The Jacquet River Gorge Protected Natural Area Bioblitz 2009-2010

What’s a bioblitz? According to one source, it’s a special type of field study where a group of scientists and volunteers conduct an intensive biological inventory, attempting to identify and record all species of living organisms in a given area.

More than 60 areas on Crown Land, officially recognized under the New Brunswick Protected Natural Areas (PNAs) Act, have now been set aside as conservation sites. Some of these sites are representative of various habitats in the province, while others have been set aside to protect a particular feature or species of concern. The over-riding goal is that these sites will help maintain provincial biodiversity long into the future. While some sites are relatively small, 10 of the sites are quite large, ranging from 2,856 -26,026 hectares. Many sites were chosen because they are the least disturbed representatives of their habitat type; generally the sites have few roads and have been poorly studied. The New Brunswick Protected Natural Areas Act mandates that management plans be prepared for each PNA. But how does one develop management plans to maintain biodiversity when one doesn’t really know which species are present? Well, a good way to get a start is to begin with a bioblitz.

In June 2009 and August 2010 some 25 participant “biodiversity experts” descended on the Jacquet River Gorge PNA. This is the largest and one of the least know PNAs, an area of heavily forested, rugged, hilly uplands, cut by sometimes deep river gorges. Two weeks of intensive study have already started to produce some interesting results. Over the coming months as new results emerge we will post them on the NBM website as we build the species inventory for the Jacquet River Gorge PNA. In the years that follow we hope to spend 2 field seasons documenting biodiversity in each of the other large New Brunswick PNAs. The New Brunswick Museum, long a source of expertise on the biological diversity of the province, recently established the NBM Centre for Biodiversity Research. The hope is that this will provide a focus for work that has been ongoing for some time and will help Museum researchers in raising funds to support biodiversity based research projects, like the annual bioblitz.

In addition to NBM scientists, experts from a number of other institutions and agencies participated in 2009 and 2010, including the Canadian Museum of Nature, the University of New Brunswick, Acadia University, the University of Ottawa, and the Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Centre. Funding for the 2 weeks of intensive study was provided by the Salamander Foundation, New Brunswick Wildlife Trust Fund, Belldune Regional Environmental Association, Port of Belldune, Campbellton Rotary Club, and the Restigouche Naturalists Club.

Project Artist

In the summer of 2010, two Artists-in-Residence were added to the team of specialists who spent time in the field at Jacquet River, to assist in communicating with the public about the important work being undertaken. Kathleen Gallant, a local multi-disciplinary artist from Atholville joined the Bioblitz for five days as Bioblitz Artist-in-Residence; and Aleta Karstad, an experienced scientific illustrator and natural history artist, based in Ontario at the Bishops Mills Natural History Center, was on hand throughout as Visiting Bioblitz Artist-in-Residence. Each artist spent days in the field observing and then creating several paintings and illustrations reflecting the PNA and the work carried out by the other members of the team. Artists-in-residence were on hand at the open house as well to share their artistic interpretations.

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