BioBlitz at Salt Lick Point Land and Water Reserve

Tom Rollins, Thomas Rollins Photography,

A BioBlitz is a 24-hour treasure hunt for life forms. In May 2011, more than 50 scientists and naturalists took part in a BioBlitz at Salt Lick Point Land and Water Reserve, a nearly 600-acre natural area adjacent to Valmeyer.

WSIU public television produced an INFocus segment on the BioBlitz. To view the segment, please click here for Clifftop’s YouTube page and click on the BioBlitz video:  Clifftop BioBlitz at Salt Lick Point

The scientists hailed from a wide variety of institutions, including the Illinois Natural History Survey at the University of Illinois, Eastern Illinois University, Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, Southwestern Illinois College, Southeast Missouri State University, the Illinois State Museum, the University of Georgia, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, and the Missouri Department of Conservation, and were joined by some of Illinois’ and Missouri’s best amateur naturalists.

A critical factor for the health and sustainability of our bluff land ecosystem is the biological native species diversity in the corridor. Native plant and animal species diversity acts as a kind of an insurance policy, with greater species numbers more resilient to stresses and disturbances in the ecosystem. The larger the number of native species means a greater capacity to self-sustain the system.

We know only a little about native species diversity in the bluff lands. Over the last decade natural history surveys in the bluff lands have cataloged 270 species of birds, about 700 species of plants, 46 species of mammals, 62 species of reptiles and amphibians, and almost 90 species of butterflies. But there is much, much more we don’t know.

Natural history records for the bluff lands, assembled over the last 150 years, indicate there should be about 1000 species of plants in the ecosystem. We don’t know how many of these species have died off or been supplanted by non-native species. We know almost nothing about insect life in the corridor. And we understand very little about non-flowering / non-vascular plant species (mosses, liverworts and fungi) in the region.

The BioBlitz was an effort to fill in the gaps of what we don’t know, revalidate what we think we know, and have a little fun.

Additional information about the BioBlitz and associated Festival of the Bluffs 2011 — and lots more photos from the events — can be found by clicking on these links.

Biological Treasure Hunt at Salt Lick Point

BioBlitz and Festival of the Bluffs 2011 photo album

hands holding specimen jar, T. Rollins

Tom Rollins, Thomas Rollins Photography

Our thanks to our co-sponsors and hosts for the BioBlitz and Festival of the Bluffs 2011: Salt Lick Point Land and Water Reserve Committee; Illinois Department of Natural Resources; Illinois Nature Preserves Commission; The Volunteer Stewardship Network, a partnership between INPC and The Nature Conservancy. Our deep gratitude and appreciation as well to all participants in the BioBlitz as they continue their labors to increase understanding and appreciation of the natural world and the wonders found all around us.

The consolidated listing of life forms inventoried during the BioBlitz are presented here: Summary of Biological Diversity Survey at Salt Lick Point LWR BioBlitz 2011.


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