We use teams to help organize RI BioBlitz. All participants must be assigned to a team during pre-registration, usually whatever taxon or habitat they specialize in. Don’t consider yourself a “specialist” in any taxon? Don’t worry, every team could use beginners to schlep equipment or sort finds, and you will learn while you help. And in addition to taxonomic and habitat teams, we have an art team, a creative writing team, and even a “people team” that helps run the event . . . there’ll be a team for anyone who wants to join in. After you register, the Survey will put you in touch with the right team leader.
The exact teams vary from year to year depending on habitat, expertise, and participants’ interests. Some teams might be focused narrowly (bees, for instance), others might be broad (plants or fish, etc.). Some teams are organized around habitats and feed their finds out to the right taxonomic teams. For example a “pond team” will encounter invertebrates of many taxa and need to feed those out to several different teams for counting. They make sure these “orphan” finds get to the right team.
The organization that goes into each team comes largely from the team captain and its members, not the Natural History Survey. Want your team to be well organized? Sounds like you have the character to be a team leader yourself! Let us know and we can give you some ideas. There is no “right way” to organize a team. Do it the way you feel comfortable and that will engage your energy. And have fun!
Here are teams for a typical RI BioBlitz, with names where they’ve been established by past teams. Some years we won’t have every team, depending on the site (no marine team if it’s an inland site, obviously) and we never know the size of the teams until registration time.
- Art [Art Team]
- Creative Writing Team
- Microscopic Unicellular Organisms Other Than Algae and Fungi
- Vascular Plants [The Plantathletes]
- Algae (Freshwater and Terrestrial) [The Phycophreaks]
- Algae (Marine)
- Mosses [The Standing Stones]
- Lichens [The Cladonia Crazies]
- Fungi [The Fun-Guys]
- Mollusks[The Muckrakers]
- Terrestrial Soil Macro-invertebrates [The Litterbugs]
- Spiders & Kin [The Creepy Crawlies]
- Crustaceans & Kin [The Crabby Crawlies]
- Beetles [The Beetleers]
- Moths [The Night Knights]
- Bees & Wasps
- All Other Insects
- Reptiles & Amphibians [The Herpetophiles]
- Fish [The Aquaverts]
If someone wants to work on a new team or a sub-taxon of an existing one, that can be arranged. For recording purposes we group taxa into overarching “super teams” —for instance all plants (including vascular and non-vascular), all mycota (including lichens and fungi), all non-arthropod invertebrates, all insects, all vertebrates, etc.
A team’s job can be greatly simplified by using a checklist of species. There are a number available through the Resource Library (keyword “checklist”). At the end of BioBlitz, your team can submit one of these checklists annotated with finders’ initials or other info. If your taxon doesn’t have a checklist you can submit your BioBlitz finds using our pink Rhode Island BioBlitz Observation Reporting Form (“RIBORF”). This form usually has a site map on the back to note find spots or the sites where you ran a particular kind of trap. These forms will be available at the BioBlitz site, you don’t need to print out your own.
In order to help assemble teams to cover the widest range of possible species, we developed a RI BioBlitz Reference Taxonomy. It is not really a proper phylogenetic or cladistic ordering. Many levels of organization have been left off and some older groupings retained despite new orderings by scientific taxonomists. The goal is to simplify the presentation and focus on taxa that the scientifically literate public would be most familiar with. It might help to think of it as a list of the potential maximum number of teams. By starting with this list, we can then condense down to the teams we actually have available with the hope no taxon will be left unassigned. The document is helpful, too, for reminding participants to keep their eyes open for obscure, interesting, or often overlooked creatures.
BioBlitz is a weird sort of game, and to increase the fun we track the performance of each team against the theoretical maximum number of species in their taxon and against the RI BioBlitz average and record high and low for their taxon. At the closing announcement every year we recognize teams that set new records and find the highest percentage of the theoretical maximum. If you’re setting goals, here’s the list of All Rhode Island BioBlitz Results 2000-2021.