Biology department’s BioBlitz inspires community

BioBlitz engages the community and fosters appreciation of the fauna of Memorial Park

Bioblitz took place in Memorial Park by the rugby fields, and members of the community spent the morning appreciating the Platteville wildlife. The event was a partnership between individuals from the biology department, Animal House, the health and human performance department and biology experts and members from the Platteville community. 

“This is the third year of Bioblitz,” said assistant professor of biology and Bioblitz organizer John Peterson. “We use it as a chance to engage with the community and students. We’re trying to not only educate but to have fun, too.”

Bioblitz had many activities going on throughout the park. One event was catching and observing small mammals trapped in the fields around the park. Most of what was caught were field mice, but there was a lot of interest in all the catches. All of the animals caught in the field were released after observation.

“This is the first year with mammal trapping, and we had a good turnout. As animals were caught, we brought attention to them,” lecturer in biology Vikki Peterson said.

Another exhibit at Bioblitz was held by HHP students who were showing the mechanics of how frogs jump compared to how humans jump. Frogs have proportionally longer legs and bigger feet than humans do, which allows more muscle to be used in the jumping process.

“We wanted to give visuals and hands on research to people,” senior health and human performance major Taylor Buckmaster said.

One of the many animals present at Bioblitz was the muscles, brought by Jarod McGobern. There were also the famous Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches, which were provided by the students from Animal House. The Hissing Cockroaches are usually kept in Boebel Hall, but they were out on display for the community to see. 

“We try to get as many experts out here to share their field,” Vikki Peterson said.

The rain was heavy in the days leading up to Bioblitz, and that morning had a sudden drop in temperature. Despite the muddy and chilly conditions, there were many students, community members and families in attendance.

“I wasn’t expecting this big of a turnout. It was a definite change in the weather, but it’s a good day and nice to see kids learning,” Buckmaster said. 

This event takes place in order to teach the community about life in the Driftless region and around the world. This year’s turnout was larger than previous years, and next year there is hope for an even larger turnout.