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  May 12, 2003

Natural History Museum To Hold
Biodiversity Count In New London Park

BioBlitz, an annual survey of all plant and animal species in an urban park, will take place in New London this year.

The 24-hour survey, hosted by the Connecticut State Museum of Natural History at UConn, will begin at 3 p.m. on Friday, June 6 in Bates Wood Park on Chester Street, New London, with more than 100 scientists from UConn and other Connecticut organizations racing to discover as many species as possible, including Long Island Sound species.

Members of the public will be able to interact with these scientists on Saturday, June 7, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., as they reveal the living things they have found.

The Museum and other nature organizations will also provide hands-on nature-focused activities and demonstrations for park visitors on Saturday. The species totals will be announced during closing ceremonies at 3 p.m. Admission is free.

Bates Woods Park is an urban park that is over 85 acres in size and has a variety of habitats including upland woodlands, streams, and ponds.

"Biodiversity isn't just in the rainforest, it's all around us wherever we are," says Leanne Kennedy Harty, the Museum's interim director. "BioBlitz has had tremendous success in bringing attention to biodiversity here in Connecticut."

Each year, the BioBlitz has revealed unusual species: species never before seen in the state, species not recorded in a century, very rare species, and species that have never before been recorded anywhere.

"Because of the serious concerns about loss of species and the destruction of habitats, we hear much about the negative impact humans have had on biodiversity. The BioBlitz looks to highlight the very positive impact that humans can choose to have too," Harty says.

"By gathering information about city parks and open spaces, we can begin to determine the extent to which urban environments are sustaining Connecticut's biodiversity."

In 2001, during the BioBlitz in Danbury, scientists counted 2,519 species, a U.S. record for a 24-hour biodiversity survey. BioBlitzes have been held in Hartford in 1999 (74 scientists, 1,369 species counted); Meriden in 2000 (97 scientists, 1,898 species counted); Danbury in 2001 (168 scientists, 2,519 species counted); and Norwich in 2002 (116 scientists, 1,898 species counted).

This year, as part of the scientific survey, scientists will also study Ocean Beach and Riverside Parks, to learn about Long Island Sound species that live in New London's parks. After the BioBlitz, the record of species and their locations will be provided to city officials to assist in future planning, so that future development can avoid sensitive ecosystems.

For more information, visit the Museum's website:, or call 860.486.4460.