BioBlitz at the Brackenridge Field Lab

May 13, 2024 • by Nicole Elmer

Saturday April 13th marked a first at UT’s first field station lab, the Brackenridge Field Laboratory (BFL). This was the day of the “BioBlitz,” a full day event open to the public, with the goal to record as many species as possible in a given area using iNaturalist, an online social network where users share biodiversity info to help each other learn about nature. 

The BioBlitz was inspired through similar past events held at Waller Creek, a stream and urban watershed in Austin. BFL received support for the BioBlitz through the Green Fund awarded by the UT Office of Sustainability. These funds support an ambitious multi-year project to restore native biodiversity of the Schulle Creek area at BFL and the BioBlitz was part of this mission.

“This event was a citizen science campaign which served multiple purposes,” Jason Lawson, Field Station Manager at BFL, explains. “First, it allowed us to attract a large volunteer base to help census the biodiversity. Along with that, it also acted as an outreach and education event by bringing together students, professors, researchers, children, and other members of the general public in the the field to learn from one another in a relaxed and inviting setting.”



The event drew attention from many different groups. “We had Texas master naturalists, UT professors and students, students from Texas State University and St. Edwards University,” Jason explains. “As well as adults and children from the local community, BFL staff, and a whole host of others from numerous backgrounds and with diverse skill sets.” 

Highlights of the event were many. During lunch, Dr. Larry Gilbert, BFL’s Director, gave an impactful and insightful talk about BFL’s history and how it connects to the current state of Schulle Creek. This talk offered a chance for visitors to learn about the history of the creek corridor before visiting it. After sunset, Colin Morrison, Postdoctoral Research Associate, and Abigail Jones (undergraduate student and Entomology Collection volunteer) led a blacklighting event. If you are unfamiliar with this, it is as amazing as it sounds! During this event, black lights are set up before a white sheet to attract nocturnal insects. “People seemed very excited about this,” Jason says. “It was a great opportunity to experience this cool alternative sampling method for insects. They got a lot of joy out of seeing what the field station is like after dark.”

Although this was the first BioBlitz at UT, based on its success and broad-reaching turnout, this won’t be the last! “We certainly achieved the goal of censusing the area's flora and fauna,” Jason says. “I've had a lot of positive feedback from attendees that suggests that the outreach component was particularly successful as well!” 

Want to check out the project page and see data from the event? Click here!


Left: welcoming the BioBlitzers. Center: Jason Lawson orients newcomers. Right: one happy attendee!