Trinity staff, students and alumni warmed up for the annual biodiversity survey conducted by Ireland’s National Biodiversity Data Centre by taking on four other universities in an intervarsity challenge. The participants raced against the clock in a 24-hour period to see how many unique plants and animals they could discover on the Trinity campus. They had recorded an impressive 346 species by the time the last bell chimed.
With the help of An Taisce Green Campus, the intervarsity also saw teams from Dublin City University, National University Ireland, Galway, University College Cork and Dundalk Institute of Technology cataloguing their campus biodiversity. At Trinity, a public lab was temporarily set up in the Science Gallery and over 40 individuals from the School of Natural Sciences came together to identify as many species as possible.
Dr Jane Stout, Associate Professor of Botany and Director of the Trinity Centre for Biodiversity Research, said: “The idea of a BioBlitz is to raise awareness of the variety of life all around us, even in the middle of a city as we are here on the Trinity Campus. Finding 346 species in just 24 hours shows just how rich biodiversity can be, even in built-up areas, and this number would have been even higher if we’d counted soil-dwelling organisms. This urban biodiversity is important because it provides ecosystem services that are fundamental to human well-being, including things like clean air and climate and flooding regulation, while also conferring mental and physical health benefits.”
As part of Trinity’s effort to raise awareness about biodiversity, a fifth-year class from St. Mary’s Boys school, Rathfarnham, visited the BioBlitz to participate in a workshop on pollinators with Green Bee Education, a specialist consultancy that develops environmental projects in Ireland. The class made nests for solitary bees, which will be positioned around campus and will be revisited with a primary school class at next year’s BioBlitz. Due to the inclement weather, very few of the insects that buzz around campus when it’s warmer were seen on the day.
Students and staff were also encouraged to get involved by raising awareness of Irish wildlife and the BioBlitz event via social media. Different species flyers created by @daveendangered were distributed in Trinity’s libraries, with specific social media contact details. This provided an opportunity for everyone to support the BioBlitz and get involved by creating a ‘SpeciesSelfie’ through e-mail, twitter or facebook.
The national BioBlitz takes place on the 23rd and 24th of May and a range of activities and walks have been arranged at Dublin’s BioBlitz site at Howth Head. For more details about the Dublin BioBlitz see here.