Biologists at Christchurch’s first ever BioBlitz this weekend have found 1197 species of plants, fungi and animals.
“BioBlitz – finding nature in the city” was a 24-hour quest to find and record as many different non-human life forms as possible. More than 80 biologists gathered at Hagley Park and the Botanic Gardens for the search, and kept a running tally of their finds.
The BioBlitz coordinator, Landcare Research PR / Communications manager Judy Grindell says this figure is over and above the 4 to 6000 plants already known to be in the park and garden.
“Our most surprising find was a rare native freshwater crayfish (koura). Other finds include assassin bugs that kill prey such as aphids by spitting at them, and numerous little German owls. There were also mosses not found in the park previously.”
Ms Grindell says heavy rain for much of the event failed to dampen spirits.
“If anything it just meant that more mushrooms popped up for us to count. We found edible mushrooms the size of dinner plates. We didn’t eat them though, and nor did we eat the crayfish.”
Ms Grindell says it is not yet clear whether there will be a second BioBlitz in Christchurch.
“BioBlitz was made possible through biologists and Botanic Garden staff volunteering their time, and through sponsorship and assistance from many groups. It was a great opportunity to bring science to the public, and kids in particular loved it.
“If volunteers are willing, we would love to have a second BioBlitz at another Christchurch location next year.”
BioBlitz was organised by Landcare Research, Lincoln University and Christchurch City Council, with a big contribution from Botanic Gardens staff. Canterbury University, NIWA, Crop & Food Research, the Department of Conservation, Weed Busters, Environment Canterbury, Kaupapa Kereru and others are also participating.