The non-profit Maryland Biodiversity Project (MBP) is celebrating its 10th Anniversary. The non-profit began cataloging the state’s biodiversity in 2012 and has now documented more than 20,600 species. Our team is almost completely volunteer and works to curate the state’s biodiversity data and put it to use for science, conservation, and education. This dedicated group has emphasized building a lively community around documenting the state’s flora and fauna and features the work of nearly 20,000 contributors.
The MBP board set a bold list of targets to make 2022 a “year-long celebration” of the 10th anniversary milestone. The team dramatically ramped up its field trips in both number and diversity, including outings focused on novel subjects such as bolas spiders and terrestrial isopods. It held its first major BioBlitz since before the COVID-19 pandemic, documenting the varied inhabitants of Marshy Point Nature Center in Baltimore County, Maryland. They focused on major new website enhancements, especially deepening its integration with the popular iNaturalist application. Finally, MBP is coordinating two fall migration bird counts, one at Turkey Point on the northern end of the Chesapeake Bay and a second at Dans Rock in western Maryland. These counts run every day from August 1st through November 30th, tallying every passing bird. This year’s lead counters, Jonathan Irons and Carl Engstrom, are collecting invaluable data that is loaded with insights about East Coast bird migration. With each successive year of these counts, the value will compound and teach us more about bird migration, bird populations, and how birds respond to all the dynamic variables that affect them along the way. MBP co-founder Bill Hubick believes birds are our clearest window into ecosystem health. For example, while measuring insect biomass as part of the “insect apocalypse” is nearly impossible (especially without baseline data), hard trend data on numbers of aerial insectivores such as Chimney Swifts can tell part of that story.
The team hopes to continue expanding its targeted data collection efforts as it starts its second decade of operation. The MBP board will set data collection priorities based on opportunities to do the most good for conservation and science. They also hope to create more impact by delving more deeply into analysis, such as identifying areas of special importance based on insect diversity. As co-founder Jim Brighton has noted in many of his 100+ presentations around the state, “How do we know what we are losing, if we don’t know what we have.”
Learn more at the Maryland Biodiversity Project web site (https://www.marylandbiodiversity.com/) and see their daily biodiversity-focused outreach on the major social media sites.