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Monday, April 9 • 4:30pm - 4:45pm
SYMPOSIA-06: Community-Engaged Science and Art: Richmond National Battlefield Bioblitz

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AUTHORS: Todd Lookingbill, Tiffany Holmes, and Kristen Allen

ABSTRACT: As one of the Centennial Initiatives, National Parks all over the country hosted BioBlitz events to discover and document as many species as possible within a 24-hour period. As part of the first of its kind Bioblitz at the Totopotomoy Creek unit of Richmond National Battlefield Park, over 100 citizen-scientists surveyed the park’s flora and fauna. Participants in the community event included three classes and 10 faculty experts from three local universities. The event was also open to the public and was attended by volunteers ranging from grade school children to Master Naturalists. Using the mobile crowd-sourcing technology app iNaturalist to leverage the global community of scientists online, we were able to verify the presence of nearly 400 species of plants, birds, reptiles, amphibians, mammals, fish, arachnids, fungi, and insects. To further the project goals of education about biodiversity, conservation, and responsible stewardship, the data from the event were visualized in an 8-foot-tall pie chart comprised of thousands of broken toy pieces. The museum installation entitled “TMT: Too Many Toys” additionally invoked the complex ecology of plastic toy reclamation. Like the data collection itself, the broken or unwanted small plastic toys repurposed as material for the art installation were crowd-sourced from parents in the artist’s local community of Chicago. Toys were color-sorted and arranged in taxonomic groups to reflect the findings logged in iNaturalist from the Bioblitz. Interestingly, many of the toys had a military theme (e.g., army men, fighter jets, etc.), which ties in with the battlefield location of the Bioblitz. The project, thus, leveraged the numerous benefits of crowdsourcing to engage local communities in Richmond and Chicago via the global iNaturalist app to provide baseline inventory data for a park unit that was transferred to the National Park Service as recently as 2006.Keywords: Citizen science, battlefields, biodiversity inventory, landscape art

Monday April 9, 2018 4:30pm - 4:45pm CDT
Grant Park Parlor