15 June 2009

New Brunswick Museum Bioblitz at Jacquet River Gorge Protected Natural Area

 

The New Brunswick Museum is initiating a project to investigate and document biodiversity data on New Brunswick’s growing network of Protected Natural Areas.  The first two years of this work, which begins this month, will be devoted to the Jacquet River Gorge Protected Natural Area, one of the largest, most remote and least known of these Protected Areas.

This year, under the leadership of Dr. Donald McAlpine, Head of Natural Sciences at the New Brunswick Museum, a team of biodiversity specialists will volunteer an estimated 1500 hours during two weeks in the Protected Natural Area and in follow-up laboratory work.  Specialists from the New Brunswick Museum, the Canadian Museum of Nature, the New Brunswick Department of Natural Resources, University of New Brunswick and Acadia University are among those who have agreed to participate. Each expert will spend time in the field, followed by time in the laboratory to prepare and identify material collected.  Fungi, mosses, lichens, ferns and fern allies, terrestrial mollusks, beetles, amphibians and small mammals will all be studied in 2009. Representative specimens will be deposited in the New Brunswick Museum and data added to the Museum’s computerized, internet accessible databases, to ensure that this biodiversity information can be fed into broader global biodiversity initiatives.

In 2003 New Brunswick enacted legislation setting aside what is now a series of 62 protected natural areas representative of New Brunswick ecoregions.  The development of management plans to ensure that the biological diversity of these areas is maintained was a major goal of the program.  McAlpine notes, however, that “most of New Brunswick’s protected natural areas are poorly known biologically”, making it difficult to develop the plans required to protect these areas for all New Brunswick citizens. The Protected Natural Areas Scientific Advisory Committee, jointly with the New Brunswick Museum Centre for Biodiversity Research, has launched this program, which over time will see biodiversity specialists volunteer their time in various New Brunswick protected natural areas to investigate and document the biodiversity of each.

On June 18, 4 – 8 pm, as part of the 2009 Jacquet River Bioblitz, an Open House will be held at the Heritage Hall, Auberge Blue Heron in New Mills.  This will give local residents interested in this natural area a chance to learn more about the project and gain insight into preliminary discoveries made by participating experts.

This summer’s work in the Jacquet River Gorge Protected Natural Area has received financial support from the Salamander Foundation, as well as the Belledune Regional Environmental Association, the Port of Belledune and the Restigouche Naturalists Club. Researchers plan to return to Jacquet River in 2010 and then move on to other Protected Natural Areas.

For further information:
Vita Kipping
Community Relations
New Brunswick Museum
(506) 643 2358
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