3 Questions for BioBlitz coordinator Jennifer Menkin
A yearly occurrence, the Bell Museum's Bioblitz is a 24-hour event where students, children, scientists, and nature fanatics race to document as many species as possible within a small area of town. Each year between 750 and 1,000 species are counted. City Pages took a moment to speak with Jennifer Menkin, Bioblitz coordinator for the 2007 science bonanza.
City Pages: What sort of crowd do you get at this event?
Jennifer Menkin: It varies wildly—it's all volunteers, so usually we get a mix of scientists, students, kids. Some of the naturalists that show up know as much about wildflowers or fungus as someone with a Ph.D. in biology would. Depending on the year we can get as many as 500 people.
CP: What are some of the things you hope to learn through gathering species at different sites each year?
JM: The main goal is to identify as many species as we can in 24 hours. We hope to find out if there are any rare species, but also just a basic idea of what is in the area. With the Warner Nature Center, because they are being developed so quickly around the area, they really want to be able to chart species change over time.
CP: In past years, have you made any surprising discoveries? Or found any species that just completely didn't belong in the region?
JM: Sure, at Minnesota Valley two years ago, they found a species of fungus that there was only one other record of it in the whole world—and that was in Europe. We didn't know that the species could be found in Minnesota at all. We have also started finding things like buckeye trees and tulip trees—things that shouldn't be able to survive our winters are now 10 to 15 years old. Things like this could be indicative of a possible global climate change. Even if someone planted them in their yards—they shouldn't have survived that long!
The blitz of biology begins Friday at 5:00 p.m. Nighttime activities start at 8:30 p.m. with owl and frog call surveys and a bug hunt. Daytime activities begin Saturday morning with a 6:00 a.m. bird hunt, running until 5:00 p.m. Free. For more info visit bellmuseum.org. 15375 Norell Ave. N., Marine-on-St. Croix; 651.433.2427.