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Researchers gather in southern Indiana to survey wetland biodiversity

The researchers spent 24 hours sampling virtually all the biology in the area.
George Hale
The researchers spent 24 hours sampling virtually all the biology in the area.

Dozens of researchers and specialists descended on southern Indiana over the weekend to create a snapshot of one wetland’s biodiversity.

More than 70 researchers from the Department of National Resources, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and multiple Indiana universities were on hand Saturday to survey the 700-acre Beanblossom Bottoms nature preserve in Ellettsville.

Chris Fox is land stewardship director for the Sycamore Land Trust, which hosted the so-called "bio blitz" along with the Indiana Academy of Sciences and others.

"We never know what we're going to find. That's what's exciting," Fox said. "And with these kinds of experts here, we feel pretty confident we'll find a lot of new things that we didn't know about."

The researchers spent 24 hours sampling a wide range of the biology in the area. Experts specializing in plants, animals, insects and even fungi took part.

Steve Russell is president of the Hoosier Mushroom Society.

"We do have somewhat of an understanding of certain species that are rare or endangered," Russell said. "But in Indiana, we don't have a good enough baseline knowledge of what exists in our state."

Russell’s hoping the weekend blitz will help to establish that baseline.

"And that way in the future we will be able to ask the more advanced questions of what actually is uncommon or potentially endangered," he said.

The researchers say they’ll begin releasing preliminary findings this week.