BioBlitz Has Moss Appeal

11 June 2010

BioBlitz

One of the exciting discoveries found at the BioBlitz.

Wildlife enthusiasts smashed a target to find 500 different species in 24 hours in a city park and made some exciting finds in the process - including a moss new to Derbyshire and a nationally rare beetle.

Derbyshire's first ever BioBlitz was a 24 hour period of wildlife recording aimed at providing a comprehensive list of all the animal and plant species in Markeaton Park. From 5pm Saturday (June 5) to 5pm Sunday (June 6), 597 species were identified.

One of the most interesting finds was a species of moss never recorded in Derbyshire before. Mosses belong to a group of plants called Bryophytes that are often overlooked as they are small and difficult to identify.

However, Tom Blockeel, the County Bryophyte Recorder, confirmed the identification of the moss. Another exciting discovery was a rare beetle, found by Graham Maynard, the Derbyshire Beetle Recorder.

The BioBlitz was part of the Springwatch Wild Day Out, a weekend of nature based activities to raise awareness of issues around biodiversity, which was organised by WildDerby in partnership with the University of Derby and the BBC.

Members of the public searched for wildlife, and experts were on hand to help identify what they found. The findings were then recorded on a database in the park's pitch and putt pavilion, which served as the 'hub' of the event.

Dr Graham Rowe, Senior Lecturer in Biological Sciences at the University said: "At 5pm on Sunday the total was 597, but there were still some species that we hadn't got round to identifying by that time, so the actual figure will be well over 600.

"And that is just the tip of the iceberg. I'm sure that, given more time, we'd find five times that amount living in the park.

"This activity shows just how diverse our surrounding wildlife is, and that there are so many species right under our nose."

The day itself was a great success and featured a range of activities including bat walks, bike rides and even worm charming!

There were dozens of local organisations exhibiting in the park, providing activities, information and advice. Very rarely can so many experts be found in one place, so it was a great opportunity for people to find out more about local wildlife.

A big screen broadcast films and slideshows across the park, as well as live images from a roving camera. Radio Derby presenter Andy Potter acted as compere for the event, and found himself carrying out all sorts of activities.

He said: "It immediately became clear that it would be a day full of learning, excitement and tired legs!

"It's amazing to think that I could be at a venue that I grew up next to and not actually know much about its environment or wildlife. Huge moths, bats, earthworms and over 500 different wildlife species certainly opened my eyes."

John Millar, chairman of the wildlife sub group, for Friends of Markeaton Park, and other group members took part in the event. He said: "It was great to have a weekend to promote some of the benefits of the park in terms of the wildlife there. We found more species than we expected and it was also a great opportunity to network and make friends."

Another highlight of the day was B-Active's 'Smoothie Cycle' activity, which involved making fruit smoothies by pedal power.

Peter Walker, Community Relations Officer at the University, said: "It was lovely to meet so many dedicated experts who clearly love their subject, and have a great ability in imparting this knowledge to the public with enthusiasm.

"I think the event was a tremendous success. Hopefully this will prove a great foundation for us to build on and we look forward to holding similar events in the future."

For more information about this news release, contact Luke Foddy, Community Projects, on 01332 591945 or email l.foddy@derby.ac.uk

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