BioBlitz ~ Saguaro National Park
National Geographic and Saguaro National Park near Tucson, Arizona, joined forces to inventory flora and fauna. Beginning on the morning of 21 October and running through the early afternoon of 22 October, the organizers enlisted the aid of thousands of Tucson-area residents to count saguaro, palo verde, ocotillo, prickly pear, creosote, gila monsters, kangaroo rats, snakes and more over hundreds of square miles of the Sonoran Desert. Roughly 2000 school kids, K-8, participated, too.
Arizona Geological Survey hosted an exhibit of Tucson Mountain-area rocks and soils. We had samples of four parent rocks and four derivative in situ soils for students to match up. Using color, texture and composition, the kids did an outstanding job. We showcased our baby mammoth – a museum quality, to scale model – and described pre-historic southern Arizona ecosystems that included: mammoth, mastodon, dire wolf, American Lion, camel, horse, sloth, bison and savannah-like grasslands. One of the chief questions we put to our audience, “where did these animals and plants go”. Extinction was a common answer, but most were uncertain as to why the megafauna became extinct.
As part of the BioBlitz Speaker series, I outlined the geologic history of the Tucson area over the past 300 million years.
Our hats are off to BioBlitz organizers with National Geographic and Saguaro National Park for a marvelous event that engaged thousands of people.
Mike Conway (22 October 2011)
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