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San Francisco’s Hills, Without the Houses

Northwest view from Mount Barnabe. (Photo by Andrew Howley) As San Francisco prepares for 300 scientists to study its surrounding plants and animals in #BioBlitz 2014, similarly steep hills to the north catch the late afternoon sun and breathe a bit easier, unburdened by houses, streets, and antique cable cars. Still, the human (and specifically…

Three Hundred Scientists Report for Golden Gate BioBlitz

More than 300 scientists are participating in this year’s National Park Service-National Geographic BioBlitz. The eighth in a series of annual events to inventory species in a national park complex, this year’s BioBlitz is being held in the San Francisco area’s Golden Gate National Parks, the most visited national park region in the U.S. in 2013 (14,300,000 visitors).

Golden Gate BioBlitz: Lots of Nature to Explore

Distinguished botanist Peter Raven wishes he could participate personally in this Golden Gate BioBlitz, “because I grew up in San Francisco and became fascinated with nature – first mainly insects, then plants – in the City and around the Bay Area, from the 1940s onward. 


There is no area more fascinating in its biology, with many differences in relatively small geographical areas.”

Ode to the Banana Slug

In anticipation of the 2014 National Geographic BioBlitz in San Francisco, a California native takes a poetic look at the local banana slug.

Great ‘Bayou Diversity’ Revealed by Jean Lafitte BioBlitz

Part scientific endeavor, part festival and part outdoor classroom, the BioBlitz hosted last week by the U.S. National Park Service and the National Geographic Society in Louisiana’s Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve yielded hundreds of observations, including the discovery of a rare Louisiana milk snake not previously recorded in the park. “This is the first time anyone has done this level of work on a bottomland, hardwood, freshwater system like this,” said Victoria Bayless, curator at the Louisiana State Arthropod Museum.

Exploring BioBlitz Geography on FieldScope

Whether a tiny invertebrate or a large, invasive nutria, all of the species observations collected during the BioBlitz will be mapped out and visualized on the National Geographic FieldScope tool. FieldScope is a web-based GIS for visualizing and analyzing scientific data collected by professional and citizen scientists. It is also a tool for exploring the geography of a place.

May 12, 2013: Meeting Giant Squid at Depth, Hang Gliding World Records and More

This week, we climb straight up vertical walls with Emily Harrington and learn why Everest isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, we learn how Dr. Edie Widder caught the first giant squid in a camera trap, we set the hang gliding world record high over Texas, and we learn about an adaptation that gives hyenas and dogs similar – but unrelated.

Revealing the Lizards of Lumpy Ridge

A colorful mystery critter from this year’s BioBlitz gets identified and shown off in all its cold-blooded glory.

BioBlitz Finds 489 Species in Rocky Mountain National Park

A 24-hour BioBlitz by some 150 scientists and 2,000 students this weekend identified 489 species alive and well in Rocky Mountain National Park. Or did a last-minute flyover by a bald eagle make the final count 490? Presenting the tally confirmed by scientists this afternoon, BioBlitz coordinators said there were 89 species of birds, 12…

An Aquatic Surprise at BioBlitz 2012

Ecologist Evan Thomas of the University of Colorado looked for a decade for a green algae called Volvox.  At this year’s BioBlitz, surrounded by volunteers eager to catalog the water bugs of Lily Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park, he found it!  I asked Evan to explain his find. Sandra Postel is director of the…

Ferns of Rocky Mountain National Park

Botanist Scott Smith specializes in ferns, orchids and cactus, but today at the Rocky Mountain National Park BioBlitz he was looking for ferns. At something like 9,500 feet above sea level, in the park’s subalpine zone, he showed visitors how to find two species of an ancient plant invisible to all but expert eyes. Story, photos and video.

BioBlitz Confirms Four Bat Species in Rocky Mountain National Park

Cay Ogden, retired National Park Service wildlife biologist, discusses the bats that live in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park, and why we should do all we can to help bats co-exist with us in urban areas. Ogden’s role in the BioBlitz was to organize two teams of scientists to confirm the seven species of bats…

Meet the Man who Networks the BioBlitz

Verizon Wireless partnered with the National Park Service and the National Geographic Society to produce the 2012 BioBlitz in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park this weekend. For the largest wireless network provider in the U.S. it is an opportunity to connect thousands of people with nature in real time. For John Johnson, Verizon Wireless’ executive director…

Slash Pile, Burn Pile

When you drive through Rocky Mountain National Park these days, one of the stranger things you notice—once you’ve stopped being startled by the scenery or the elk—is the enormous piles of wood along the road. They’re shaped like teepees, they’re called slash piles, and they’re future bonfires: Last winter the rangers lit 5,700 of them…

Counting Water Bugs for Rocky Mountain BioBlitz

Tiny bugs called macro-invertebrates help make freshwater ecosystems tick, and as a team of volunteers found out at Lily Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park, they’re diverse, abundant and just plain cool little creatures. Rachel Harrington, a freshwater ecologist at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado, led the BioBlitz volunteers in identifying the water…