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The tiniest denizens of Biscayne National Park

Biscayne National Park, Florida–There’s nothing like a bioblitz to make you feel humble. Everytime I went out today to meet a different scientist in the field I realized how little I know about the world.

If you made the same walk along the mangrove-lined shore here with a different scientist you would see completely different things. That’s especially true when you’re in the company of someone like an entomologist, a zoologist who studies insects.

Biscayne Bioblitz 2010.jpg

We–150 scientists and some 1,500 enthusiastic volunteers, many of them students–are here to see how many species of animals and plants can be identified in this 172,000-acre national park in the 24 hours that began midday today and end the same time tomorrow.

I came across Julieta Brambila on Elliott Key early in the day. She’s an entomologist with the Florida State Collection of Arthropods.

When I first encountered her she was on her knees, rooting around in the leaf litter at the base of a tree. She knew exactly where to find what she was looking for. I’ve noted that all the scientists know precisely where to find the species of their specialty–which rocks to turn over, where to scratch the dirt, for example.

Julieta was looking for insects that eat fruit fallen from ficus trees. But in her quest she had already caught and bottled a number of insects, including a miniscule parasite wasp. She was keeping them, she told me, for a guided walk she was scheduled to give later in the day.

Watch her in this video talk about some of the insects she found, and her tips for how to see insects when you’re out on a biolblitz.

Posted by David Braun

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