The latest species tally from the BioBlitz at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore: 1,716. Of course, that number might be outdated by now as scientists work through the evidence collected during a 24-hour period this weekend.
Part scientific endeavor, part festival and part outdoor classroom, the BioBlitz brought together leading scientists and naturalists from around the country with teams of public volunteers of all ages, including more than 2,000 students from the tri-state region (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan).
The goal was to comb the 15,000-acre park, observing and recording as many plant and animal species as possible in 24 hours. Inventory activities included exploring the dunes, catching insects, searching for hidden wildflowers in woodlands, seining fish and other aquatic organisms, and observing and catching bats with nets at night.
How valuable can this sort of endeavor be? At Great Smoky Mountains National Park an "All Taxa Biological Inventory" has discovered 800 species that had never been noted on Earth before. All told, there could be as many as 100,000 species of birds, insects, fish, amphibians, invertebrates, mammals and plants in Great Smoky.
It will be interesting to see what the total of this weekend's BioBlitz at Indiana Dunes settles at, and whether any of the species will be new to science.