Twenty Reinhardt University students and two faculty were among the participants of the BioBlitz at Staraland Nature Preserve last weekend. A BioBlitz is a biological inventory and provides a snapshot of an area’s biodiversity.
The biology students, along with professors Dr. Zach Felix and Kylie Stover spent two days adding hundreds of records of different organisms to the iNaturalist database. The observations collected serve as a record of the plants, animals, and fungi found at Staraland on Earth Day 2023.
A highlight was a night walk through the woods to observe dozens of blue ghost fireflies. An expert taught students how to catch spiders and start a list of spider species at Staraland.
The outing was hosted by former Reinhardt faculty member Keith Ray, who is now the Director of Conservation at Southeastern Trust for Parks and Land (STPAL). As they documented frogs, mammals, mushrooms, insects, and more, students teamed up with community members, a birder whose grandchild is a Reinhardt student, members of the North American Native Fish Association, and members of the iNaturalist community. Students also met the gentleman who donated the property to STPAL.
Dr. Felix is proud to participate with his students each year, “As Cherokee County grows and as the climate warms, these records are important to see how the community of living things also changes. Many of these species are not found in other parts of Georgia or even Cherokee County.”