GIS Educational Specialist, Sarah McLane Bryan, represented UH Maui College’s GIS Certificate Program as an inventory scientist on Hawaiʻi Island at Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Parks for the annual National Geographic BioBlitz event on May 15th and 16th, 2015.
The events of the weekend were hosted by National Geographic and the National Park Service. Each year the BioBlitz is held in a different national park across the country.
Photo: Night glow from Kīlauea volcano’s Halema‘uma‘u Crater in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park during BioBlitz. Courtesy of Alex Werjefelt.
The event this year brought together more than 170 leading scientists and traditional Hawaiian cultural practitioners (alakai‘i), more than 850 4th thru 8th grade students, and approximately 6,000 visitors from the general public. Together, they conducted a comprehensive inventory of the plants, insects, mammals, birds and other species that inhabit the 333,086-acre island park.
Under the theme I ka nānā no a ‘ike (“By observing, one learns”), the Hawaiian proverb amplied the fact that Hawaiians, as keen observers, were the first naturalists in Hawaiʻi.
Photo: Amy Kaawaloa, hula dancer, of Hālau Hulu Ulumamo o Hilo Palikū. Courtesy of NPS/ J. Ferracane.
In total the scientist and public inventories made 1,535 observations of 416 species, with many more species to be identified as new species are examined by specialists. So far this has resulted in 22 new species being added to the park’s species list, including over 73 threatened species observed, such as the Nene and Kamehameha butterfly. Seventeen new documentations of fungi were also reported, more than double what the park already had documented.
Mrs. Bryan also was able to discuss our GIS Certificate program with Dr. Michael Stebbins, assistant director for biotechnology in the science division of the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy who was representing the White House at this event. His office is actively gathering information about bringing citizen science and STEM programs to the public and expressed interest in hearing more about our GIS Certificate program. Mrs. Bryan plans on following up with him during this summer to brainstorm ways that our two programs could work together.