Berkshire BioBlitz Brings Community Together to Survey Local Species

Media contact: Gregory Shook, director of media relations, tele: 413-597-3401; email: [email protected]

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., August 28, 2018—Celebrating local biodiversity, the 9th annual Berkshire BioBlitz brings community members of all ages together with biologists, naturalists, environmentalists, and teachers to explore nature and identify as many plants, animals, fungi, and other organisms as possible during a 24-hour period. Participants will join teams led by specialists to experience first-hand the importance of a healthy, active ecosystem in their own community. The event, which is free and open to the public, will take place on September 15, and Sunday, September 16, in Hopkins Memorial Forest. Participants may take part in the BioBlitz any time during the 24-hour period.

In addition to surveying local species, this year’s program will include family events such as bird banding, microscope and specimen set-ups, and a hands-on water filtration activity, as well as interactive walks and conversations that will run throughout the day. There will also be an invasive species identification exhibit to exemplify the impact of holding a survey. “During our 2012 Berkshire BioBlitz, invasive hardy kiwi was found in the forest of Burbank Park in Pittsfield,” says Jane Winn of Berkshire Environmental Action Team (BEAT). “As a result of the BioBlitz, we are now working hard to eradicate this invasive vine.”

More than 30 specialists will be on site to share their scientific knowledge. They include Bob Leverett, co-author of the American Forests’ Champion Tree-Measuring Guidelines Handbook; Elia Del Molino, Berkshire Wildlife Tracker and BEAT Stewardship Manager, who will lead a mammal tracking workshop; and Williams biology professors Ronald Bassar and Joan Edwards, who will lead a fish survey and pollinator walk, respectively. Also joining the scientific effort are John Wheeler of the Berkshire Mycological Society; Charley Eiseman, lead author of Tracks & Sign of Insects and Other Invertebrates; and Eric Doucette, professor at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts whose research focuses on regional conservation, speciation, and systematics of vascular plants.

Additional programs will take place after dark, including an “Owl Prowl” led by Rene Wendell of The Nature Conservancy, and a “Moth-Light” demonstration by Mark Mello of the Lloyd Center for the Environment and Jason Crockwell, local amateur entomologist.

This year’s BioBlitz event is hosted by Williams College and co-sponsored by Dr. Augie’s Science Education Programs and Berkshire Environmental Action Team (BEAT). Hopkins Memorial Forest is a 2,600- acre reserve in western Massachusetts and parts of New York and Vermont. It is managed by the Williams College Center for Environmental Studies to facilitate research and undergraduate teaching activities while preserving and monitoring forest resources.

“We are excited for the public to join in the cataloging of species and enjoy parts of Hopkins Forest which they may have previously been unfamiliar with,” says Hank Art, Rosenburg Professor of Environmental Studies and Biology, emeritus, at Williams College. “While we have been studying the major species of plants and animals there since the mid-1930s, there are groups of organisms, such as mosses and fungi, that we know relatively little about, but really are important.”

For more information, including a schedule of events, visit www.berkshirebioblitz.org.

Directions to Hopkins Memorial Forest:

From the rotary in Williamstown, turn right onto Route 7 and continue 0.3 miles to Bulkley Street. Turn left on Bulkley and continue 0.75 miles to its junction with Northwest Hill Road. Turn right on Northwest Hill Road and continue for approximately 100 yards. The entrance to Hopkins Forest is on the left.

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Founded in 1793, Williams College is the second-oldest institution of higher learning in Massachusetts. The college’s 2,000 students are taught by a faculty noted for the quality of their teaching and research, and the achievement of academic goals includes active participation of students with faculty in their research. Students’ educational experience is enriched by the residential campus environment in Williamstown, Mass., which provides a host of opportunities for interaction with one another and with faculty beyond the classroom. Admission decisions on U.S. applicants are made regardless of a student’s financial ability, and the college provides grants and other assistance to meet the demonstrated needs of all who are admitted.

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