PS 19-50 - Bioblitzes Allow for Longitudinal Study of the Flora and Fauna of Rushton Woods Preserve in Willistown Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania

Tuesday, August 8, 2017
Exhibit Hall, Oregon Convention Center
Heather L. Kostick, Earth and Environmental Science, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA

A bioblitz is a twenty-four-hour intensive survey of the flora and fauna of a site that provides a snapshot of its biodiversity at a point in time and a baseline for future comparison. Bioblitzes allow citizen scientists, students, professors, and volunteers to come to a single event to network, to learn, and to build on one another’s knowledge. In June 2015, June 2016, and September 2016, bioblitzes were conducted at Rushton Woods Preserve (RWP) in Willistown, PA, an 86-acre site that includes a small-scale, organic farm situated in the midst of five habitat types. The bioblitz goals were to document species occurrence on the preserve during bird breeding season and fall bird migration in order to maximize species richness. Such a study provides valuable information for making land management and farming decisions. These bioblitzes allow for longitudinal study of the biodiversity of Rushton Woods Preserve.

Surveys of aquatic invertebrates, insects, bats, birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, plants, and fungi were conducted. Plants were classified into habitat type and status (native, non-native.) in order to assess diversity and address the differences between habitat types.


Surveys from all events revealed a diverse assemblage of species and indicate high biodiversity. Over 500 species were documented over the three bioblitz events spanning two years. Plant species data were analyzed using the Shannon-Weiner Diversity Index (SDI), One-Way ANOVA, and Principal Components Analysis. Results from statistical analyses indicate that the habitat types could be and are most likely distinct from one another, however additional environmental data and replications of the study are necessary to confirm conclusions.

Bioblitzes gather extensive plant and animal data in a short period of time and foster an environment for education and outreach. Species richness information can be useful for land management and farming decisions. Future projects could reveal the positive impacts of small-scale, organic farming as practiced by Rushton Farm if compared, using identical methodology, to a large-scale, commercial farm.