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Sax-Zim Bog BioBlitz VIII 2020 Wrap-up

July 29, 2020 Category: ,

For the 8th year in a row there has been a Bog BioBlitz. Each year brings us a better understanding of the biodiversity in the Sax-Zim Bog. Participants vary from year to year, as does the number of species found and this year was certainly an anomaly in the history of bioblitzes, as you might expect during a pandemic. We had a format change: no official field trips and an extended schedule! So under these new conditions, how did this year’s bioblitz compare to year’s past?

Even thought we may have lacked traditional field trips, we still called on our field trip leaders from prior bioblitzes to come out an find species in their respective fields. Jerry McCormick patrolled the roadsides and fields of the Sax-Zim Bog looking for butterflies and insects; Chad Heins spent time sweep netting and turning logs looking for spiders; Head Naturalist Clinton and Kristina, as well as Welcome Center Naturalist Jason and Katie took the night shift to document moths in the Sax-Zim Bog; Jason and Katie also spent time netting and photographing dragonflies and damselflies; Kelly Beaster had only a brief day to pop up and document plants; Joan Hunn spent time on a number species but came through documenting lichen diversity; and Executive Director Sparky found a diversity of species and documented his finds on video here.

Over the course of observation the weather was a challenge, with windy conditions, some rain, some cold (relatively speaking for July), generally a tough weekend for finding some species. However, 18 different groups of folks made an incredible effort to document species from July 16-20. As with last year’s BioBlitz we utilized iNaturalist to help record species. Last year, there were 15 observers who made 264 observations of 184 species. This year, we had 14 observers who made 817 observations of 534 species! What an incredible jump in observations!! Thank you to everyone who submitted observations to our BioBlitz iNaturalist project! To view this year’s project, follow this link. To view 2019’s BioBlitz project, follow this link.

So, how many species did we document during Sax-Zim Bog BioBlitz 8? With an extended observation period, iNaturalist use, and all of our intrepid participants we documented 730 species!! In this tally, we added 135 new species to our Master Species List and documented roughly 36% of our entire species list! What an impressive result! Here are results for each species group of note:

TREES AND SHRUBS: 35 species documented, with 5 new additions to the Master Species List.

White Pine is perhaps one of most beautiful conifers in the Northwoods. Photo by Joan Hunn.

FLOWERING PLANTS: 164 species documented, with 19 new additions to the Master Species List.

Lesser Rattlesnake Plantain is tiny! These reticulated leaves are about the size of a fingernail! Photo by Head Naturalist Clinton
Fairly common species, such as Stinging Nettle, often get under-documented during much of the year, but not during the BioBlitz! Photo by Head Naturalist Clinton.
Not as flashy as it’s relative Spreading Dogbane, Clasping Dogbane is much more subtle and not as common in the Sax-Zim Bog. Photo by Head Naturalist Clinton.

GRASSES AND SEDGES: 54 species documented, with 7 new additions to the Master Species List.

Narrow-leaved Cattail is considered a Gramminoid, which is a catch-all term for grass-like plants such as sedges, rushes, grass, cattails, bulrushes, etc. Photo by Head Naturalist Clinton.
One of the strangest gramminoids out there is this one: Golden Sedge. Those gold orbs are its seeds! Photo by Kelly Beaster.

FERNS AND ALLIES: 20 species documented, with 6 new moss species added to the Master Species List.

Mosses tend to look the same from afar. It is only up close where you find the diversity of growth forms! Woodsy Thyme Moss is quite wonderful and a new one for the species list. Photo by Joan Hunn.

LICHENS AND FUNGI: 39 species documented, with 7 new lichens and 3 new fungi added to the Master Species List.

This might not look very lichen-like, but the Membraneous Pelt is sure neat! Photo by Joan Hunn.
Golden Moonglow Lichen is never not a stunner! Photo by Joan Hunn.
Common Script Lichen is a most exciting find for the BioBlitz! Photo by Joan Hunn.

DRAGONFLIES AND DAMSELFLIES: 24 species documented, with highlights including Zigzag Darner, Zebra Clubtail, and rare for the Bog Wandering Glider.

Zigzag Darners are only found in one location in the Sax-Zim Bog: The Toivola Swamp! It is a trek to get to their habitat and observe this awesome odonate! Photo by Jason Heinen.
This Northern Spreadwing shows its namesake “spread wings” at rest. Photo by Jason Heinen.
Wandering Glider is a hard to capture, highly migratory, and difficult to find away from Lake Superior in Northern Minnesota. Photo by Jason Heinen.

BUTTERFLIES: 31 species documented, with Black Swallowtail, Dion Skipper, Baltimore Checkerspot, and great numbers of Acadian Hairstreaks being highlights.

Monarch happily nectaring on a Common Milkweed. Photo by Head Naturalist Clinton.
Black Swallowtails are not very common in the Sax-Zim Bog and are always a showstopping find! Photo by Chad Heins.
Skippers are a challenging group to ID, but Dun Skippers make things easy with their uniformly dark coloration. Photo by Sparky Stensaas.

MOTHS: 140 species documented, with 40 new species added to the Master Species List (which is now 12 species away from 500!).

American Idia is fairly common, but offers a variety of colors and patterns to the patient observer. Photo by Head Naturalist Clinton
Four-spotted Ghost moth may just be the largest micromoth out there! The ghost moths are a very old group of moths, and this was a first record for the Bog! Photo by Head Naturalist Clinton.
Lesser Maple Spanworms must have just hatched prior to the Bioblitz, as we encountered a number of very fresh individuals. Photo by Head Naturalist Clinton.
Another one of the many stunning moth species found during the BioBlitz: Brown Pine Looper. Photo by Head Naturalist Clinton.

SPIDERS: 45(!) species documented, with 20 species added to the Master Species List. This total includes 12 new county records and 4 new state records!

The tiny and beautiful Dictyna coloradensis. Photo by Chad Heins.
Our largest spider in the Bog, Dark Fishing Spiders love to hang out around the Welcome Center. Photo by Chad Heins.
One of four new state record spiders found during the BioBlitz: Cantrall’s Wolf Spider! Photo by Chad Heins.

MISC “BUGS”: 68 species documented, with 28 new species added to the Master Species List.

Carolina Grasshoppers come in a variety of colors from sandy tan to brown to brick red! Photo by Head Naturalist Clinton.
Banded Longhorn Beetles are frequent visitors to flowering plants in the Sax-Zim Bog. Photo by Head Naturalist Clinton.
While tending moth lights, it is not uncommon to attract caddisflies or mayflies, like this Giant Mayfly! Photo by Head Naturalist Clinton.

BIRDS: 84 species documented, with 14 warbler species, 8 sparrow species, 7 species of flycatcher, and Great Gray Owl being highlights.

Brewer’s Blackbirds are a more typical grassland species that can be found readily in the Sax-Zim Bog. Photo by Sparky Stensaas.

FISH: Central Mudminnow was the only fish species documented this year, as high water conditions trounced any greater effort in documentation this year.

Central Mudminnows are just awesome! Photo by Head Naturalist Clinton.

AMPHIBIANS AND REPTILES: 9 species documented, with no turtles observed during the bioblitz.

American Toads have a tendency to show up during mothing, perhaps for a free meal, or maybe for the company of other moth lovers. Photo by Head Naturalist Clinton.

MAMMALS: 18 species documented, which is astounding! All 4 canine species, 4 species of bat, Bobcat, Black Bear, and even Northern Flying Squirrel made this year’s mammal list quite amazing.

This is a spectrogram of the calls of Little Brown Bat recorded by Head Naturalist Clinton during the Bioblitz. Like birds, bats can be identified by the vocalizations!

If you want to check out our other BioBlitz reports to see how they compare to this year, check out these links: 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019.

Thank you again to everyone who submitted checklists of species via email, iNaturalist, or on our Facebook Group with the #bogbioblitz2020. We really appreciate the efforts made to help us continue to learn about the Sax-Zim Bog!

— Head Naturalist Clinton