September 14, 2012


During the end of the August, instructor Filip Tkaczyk and Alderleaf Wilderness Certification Program (AWCP) graduate Alexandra Vita and one of this year's AWCP students, Elan Rueven, participated in a local BioBlitz event.

The BioBlitz is an intensive scientific event in which experienced naturalists spend one or more days surveying for as many species as possible on a particular area of land.  This Bioblitz event took place on the Upper Skagit Indian Tribe's land at Hansen Creek.

The skills of wildlife tracking are a vital tool in surveying for what species can be found at a location, and which areas they tend to use frequently.  Determining what species are present can have great impact on how a parcel of land is conserved and managed into the future.  BioBlitz events also help reveal the diversity that is present at a site, and can help better to observe how changes in that landscape over time can effect the species found there.

There were many interesting finds during the survey, and even some surprises.

Here is one of the most common finds along the creek: the scat of a muskrat (Ondatra zibithicus).

The wetland areas were home to a variety of amphibian species, and many were seen even though it was late summer.  Here is a juvenile Northwestern salamander (Ambystoma gracile) which was found surprisingly in a parched area, that was once a wide pond.
Another surprise were these claw marks on an alder tree left behind by a black bear (Ursus americanus) that had climbed the tree in spring to feed on the catkins.

It was amazing day of discovery and science in action!  We look forward to more opportunities to participate in local BioBlitz events in the future.  Thank you to the Upper Skagit Indian Tribe for inviting us!

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