“Like so many naturalists and field biologists, one of my constant sources of inspiration is certainly Aldo Leopold,” said Jeff Cantrell, Foundation Technical Advisor and Education Consultant with the Missouri
Across the country, nature lovers and professional biologists team up at “BioBlitz’s” to identify as many species as possible (the “bio”) in an area over the course of 24 hours (the “blitz”). The Foundation’s version will begin June 1 at 2:00 p.m. and end the afternoon of June 2. In addition to the plant and animal field work, there will be a potluck picnic dinner, stargazing, nocturnal insect and bat observations, and free tent camping on the prairie.
“Ecologists consider temperate grasslands to be the most endangered, least conserved of any major terrestrial habitat on earth—so Missouri’s tallgrass prairies have global conservation significance,” said Carol Davit, the Foundation’s executive director. “Collectively, our remaining prairies in Missouri support up to 800 plant species, dozens of vertebrates and thousands of invertebrates, but there is still much to learn. We want to see how many species we can find at Denison and Latter Prairies, and BioBlitz participants will help in that effort.” Participants at past BioBlitz’s at other Foundation prairies have documented blooming orchids, dozens of butterfly species, rare fish, and much more.
On the afternoon and evening of June 1 and the morning of June 2, biologists who study ants, bees, birds, butterflies, insect coloration, planthoppers, fish, moths, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, vascular plants, mosses, and liverworts will lead groups across the prairies to survey and inventory as many species as possible. Biologists with the Missouri Department of Conservation—Fisheries Biologists Tom Priesendorf and Kara Tvedt, Natural History Biologist Mike Arduser, and Naturalist John Miller—will be group leaders. Other leaders include mammalogist Dr. Vicki Jackson; entomologists Dr. James Trager, Dr. Stephen Wilson, and Richard Thoma; botanists Justin Thomas and Nels Holmberg; naturalist Bruce Schuette; lepidopterist Phillip Koenig; and naturalist Elizabeth Hamilton.
“We are thrilled that so many biologists are giving their time to help uncover the plant and animal treasures of these prairies,” said Davit. “If you love plants and wildlife, this is a great opportunity to learn from experts passionate about their given subjects, and play a role in much-needed data collection as well.”
Denison and the adjacent Lattner Prairies encompass 440 contiguous acres on the Vernon and Barton County line, three miles west of Sheldon. In 1993, the Foundation acquired the original 240 acres at the site, which is high quality native prairie with a total of 320 recorded plant species. Since that time an additional 200 acres were acquired and restoration is underway.
The Prairie BioBlitz is free, but participants must RSVP. For a detailed schedule, directions to the prairie, and to RSVP, email email@example.com or call 888-843-6739.
The Missouri Prairie Foundation is a 47-year-old membership organization that protects and restores prairie and other native grasslands through acquisition, management, education and support of prairie research. The organization owns more than 2,600 acres of prairie across the state and provides management services an on additional 1,500 acres owned by conservation partners. The Missouri Prairie Foundation is also home to the Grow Native! native plant education and marketing program.
Department of Conservation. “I’ll never forget my first walk through Denison prairie—I was immediately reminded of his passage regarding the compass plants tickling the bellies of the American buffalo. So I was pleased to see that the next Prairie BioBlitz will be hosted there and at the adjacent Lattner prairie. The event is always a fun, engaging experience with an old time family-gathering feel to it. I hope many have already marked their calendars.”