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Master Species List Update!

August 2, 2019 Category: ,
Leatherleaf is a bog specialist, host plant to bog specialist moths and butterflies, and is one of the earliest blooming plants in the Sax-Zim Bog. An important part of our biodiversity!

It has been a while since I have updated everyone on the Master Species List. On the last check-in, the Master Species List in the Sax-Zim Bog had just surpassed 1,000 species! If you are interested in seeing the first two biodiversity posts, follow the links here and here!

So what has happened in the last three years of species documentation in the Sax-Zim Bog?

For starters, we have continued to utilize iNaturalist to document species in the Sax-Zim Bog! It has been exciting to see what species have been documented by those of you using iNaturalist on your visits to the Sax-Zim Bog. All-in-all, 172 observers have documented 1,025 species! This year we decided to enter data into an iNaturalist project during the 7th Annual Sax-Zim Bog BioBlitz! This was the first time we have used this project format and 15 folks submitted documentation of 184 species, which is roughly 1/3 of the total species documented during the BioBlitz. If you are interested in checking out data from the BioBlitz or the general Sax-Zim Bog Area, follow these links: BioBlitz and Sax-Zim Bog .

Education programs have been continuing to showcase species diversity, and have been showing off neat species here and there! With the addition of Master Naturalist courses, increased discussion of bog ecology or winter time tracking or ferns and clubmosses can be has helped build a sense of place at all times of year for naturalists. Field trips have been going on in the Sax-Zim Bog for almost 5 years now and each trips covers a lot of ground in the Sax-Zim Bog, showcasing diverse ecosystems and species found in the bog. Each participant has their own hopes/goals/species of interest when coming on our trips. Perhaps they want to add to what they learned from a previous trip or are digging in to new species of interest. Maybe they simply are hoping to experience the bog! It is wonderful to see the excitement from visitors on seeing their first Pitcher Plant or Rusty Snaketail or Baltimore Checkerspot or Blackburnian Warbler.

Master Naturalists admiring a Freija Fritillary that decided to join our bog ecology walk!

With the increased use of iNaturalist, continued education programs, the continued presence of BioBlitzes in the Sax-Zim Bog, and volunteers looking diligently for new and exciting species, the Master Species List has grown considerably! I was actually planning a post celebrating 1,500 species in the Sax-Zim Bog… but… we blew by that number! At the time of writing this post, the Master List sits at 1,637 species with new additions of Northeastern Pine Sawyer and a species of Flower Longhorn beetle we found while cutting wood for the new Fermoy Bog Boardwalk, just yesterday (8/1)!

Species diversity can be predictable in an ecosystem: Lots of insects and plants, with fewer higher order vertebrates and our list certainly plays by those rules! It has been interesting to see how the species list changes from year to year. Reviewing and updating the list can be a challenge, and this season Ethan Perry volunteered to take a look at the plant list and gave it a review. He was able to add and subtract and remove plant species and now our documentation is much more accurate. More frequently, however, the changes to the list are dependent on which species get reported or are of interest to those visiting the Sax-Zim Bog. Here are the most diverse species groups in the Sax-Zim Bog… for now!

Golden Moonglow Lichen one of the more difficult to find species in the Sax-Zim Bog.
  1. Plants: 467 species
  2. Moths: 284 species
  3. Birds: 234 species
  4. Fungi and Lichens: 137 species
  5. Odonates: 83 species

Did those numbers surprise you? Are those the species you would expect to be the most diverse? I am constantly surprised at the diversity found in the Sax-Zim Bog. There is just so much to see that you cannot possibly cover all of the species with one visit or maybe even ten visits. New or rare species lie just around/in/below each tussock of cotton grass, within the depths of the black spruce bogs and sphagnum moss, or down the river. If you have not made visiting the Sax-Zim Bog in the summer months a priority, you are missing out! Although the winter is plenty exciting, the diversity, and the core of what makes the Sax-Zim Bog the Sax-Zim Bog, can only be seen in the spring and summer.

While the list has not quite made it to 2,000 species, we are well on our way to that number! The more species we find and document, the greater our understanding of place becomes, and the greater appreciation we gain of the sheer expanse and diversity of the Sax-Zim Bog. I also think that the more diversity we uncover, the greater the need will become to protect this unique collection of habitat types and species. 2,000 species is just around the corner!

I am continually thankful for keen observers out in the field documenting the species that they see while enjoying the Sax-Zim Bog during the summer months (and winter months!). I am also thankful for the number of naturalists volunteering their time to find and identify new species during the BioBlitz or on their own! Without extra eyes and sets of expertise, there is no way we would have been able to document over 1,600 species!

My challenge for all of the visitors/naturalists/bog blog readers: go look under a rock, take a walk down Gray Jay Way, or just enjoy late summer diversity in the Sax-Zim Bog just to see what is there and until next time… I will see you out in the Bog!

-Head Naturalist Clinton