BioBlitz: Exploring Dedham’s Natural Wonders

On July 14, I participated in the Dedham Bioblitz, an effort to tally up as many species as possible within a one-day period throughout several of Dedham’s open spaces. It was an honor to contribute to an event that promotes awareness of local biodiversity, and to spend an informative day among seasoned experts in the environmental field. Stephanie Radner, founder of the Dedham Natural Wonders program, organized the BioBlitz for the second year in a row. It was a fun and productive day – with over 700 species counted.

The event kicked off Friday evening with a nighttime walk, where nocturnal species were observed and identified. On Saturday, groups of naturalists and volunteers took on three very different habitats:  Dedham Town Forest, Wigwam Pond, and the Fowl Meadow wetland.  As part of the Fowl Meadow group, I worked with Dr. Lisa Standley, expert botanist and author, and Dr. Peter Burn, professor and chair of Suffolk University Biology Department. We were also joined by journalist Natalie Fulener, who will be publishing an article on the BioBlitz in the Boston Globe later this month.  No trails or boardwalks are present in this wetland,  so it took some resourcefulness to get around, hopping between tussocks of vegetation and at times relying on Peter’s smartphone to orient ourselves in the right direction. The effort paid off, with about 150 species of plants counted within a couple of hours.

Dr. Peter Burn shares his botanical knowledge with Boston Globe journalist Natalie Fuelner.

Since we began our day bright and early at Fowl Meadow, there was still plenty of time to continue our inventory before lunch. Peter, Lisa and I decided to explore the trails at Wilson Mountain, which brought us through varied terrain including deciduous and evergreen forest, massive rock outcroppings, forested wetlands, streams, and vernal pools.

Thanks to the expertise of Dr. Lisa Standley, we found dozens of sedges, rushes and grasses.

We gathered for lunch at the Dolan Recreational Center,  which served as the BioBlitz headquarters for the day.  Families worked on a biodiversity scavenger hunt and various craft projects, and took in a fascinating live birds of prey exhibit put on by the Blue Hills Trailside Museum. Later in the day, a diverse array of insects were counted at Wilson Mountain Meadow.

So far, about 700 species were counted throughout the day, which included 291 plants, 50 birds, close to 150 insects, and 25 fungi. A full species list can be viewed here. I would encourage anyone to join us in Dedham next year, whether you work in the environmental field or are just someone interested in experiencing the biodiveristy in your own backyard!

One thought on “BioBlitz: Exploring Dedham’s Natural Wonders

  1. eastyinri

    It must have been interesting to explore these wild areas with experts in botany and biology. I’m sure I am failing to see 90% of the living organisms when I hike through the woods. Or I’m just lumping certain categories together. Who would have guessed — 25 different species of fungi…

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