Thoughts on a Bio-blitz and More

Commoners

“Streptopus amplexifolius.” Check.

“Apocynum androsaemifolium.” Check.

“Vaccinium angustifolium.” Check.

“We’ve got Aralia racemosa!”

“Really?” Check. “This is advanced bioblitzing.”

Plant people really do speak another language, binomial Latin, though they can be cajoled into common names, when commoners tag along. In early July, two botanists led a half-mile excursion for three students, one teaching assistant, one photographer, and two hangers on, along an old railroad grade that made a straight, dry path through a Cheboygan County swamp. Despite the commoners, the botanists inventoried 107 species of plants in 95 minutes. This group was part of an attempt to record every living species – trees, insects, mammals, lichen, everything – on Biological Station land: a bioblitz. In a nod to the size of the task, Station scientists gave themselves three times the traditional 24 hours, and that still didn’t allow them to come anywhere close to a complete record. Some species hide too well, others didn’t have specialists around to identify them, but they made a good start.

Midway along the railroad grade, one botanist pulled down a twig of betula alleghaniensis (erm, yellow birch), and scraped at its bark with his knife.

“Smell this,” he said, holding it out.

“Methyl salicylate,” said an organic chemist, one of the hangers on. He looked up at the group. “Wintergreen oil,” he clarified, giving its common name, and then pointed.

“Hey, there’s a daisy.”

It turned out to be of indeterminate species. Chrysanthemum spp.

By Alan J. Hogg, Jr.

Article Comments

  • Anonymous

    What a treat to know the Biological Station is still alive and well. My father, David S. Shetter, B.S. Biology 1932, M.S. 1933, Ph.D. Zoology, 1937, enjoyed many summers there and until recently we had a scrapbook showing the activities and the friends he met there. Unfortunately, the storage space in Florida retirement homes dictates that some things have to be cleaned out. Wish I had known where to send it. This was definitely a seminal experience for a city guy from Cleveland. He loved everthing and had a hard time deciding what to do for his advanced degrees – ichthyology, entymology or herpetology.

    Dad subsequently went on to become the director of the Hunt Creek Fisheries Experiment Station in Lewiston from 1943 until his death in 1969. This is now under DNR management. My brother and I grew up at the “Lab”. A wonderful place to learn about the out of doors – many students and scholars coming and going. All summer there were folks camped out on the property observing or collecting. We learned VERY early not to disturb anyone or anything in jars, nets or collecting trays.

    There were no data bases established for many things we take for granted today. Hunt Creek has one of the longest data bases in existence for a freshwater trout stream. I certainly hope the current budget crises does not put that in jeopardy.

    Call Andy Nuhfer, the current director and have him show you the scrapbook I did on the history of Hunt Creek last year. I think you could do a good article on that and what the Lovells Historical Society is doing for the fishing lodges on the North Branch and the Main Stream. All of this was tied together in the beginning.

    Keep up the good work!

    Sincerely,

    Alice Shetter Hoelzer-Hawthorne
    3808 Doune Way
    Clermont, FL 34711