VSU Bioblitz discovers new species to Lowndes County

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By: Emma Wheeler | WCTV Eyewitness News
November 15, 2019

LOWNDES COUNTY, Ga. (WCTV) -- The results are in from the Valdosta State University Bioblitz with some fascinating finds.

Valdosta hosted its first Bioblitz at Grassy Pond Recreational Area last fall, and again this past spring. The event teams up scientists with community members to learn about local biology and discover as many species as possible in a 24 hour period.

During the fall event, the group recorded 654 species, and in the spring another 581 species.

Biology professor Emily Cantonwine said the biggest impact came from the lichens. Close to 40 species of lichen found during the event were reported for the first time in Lowndes County. One of those could have been the first reported in the state, or even in the country. That is still being verified.

Cantonwine said discoveries like this helps to show the public just how diverse our environment can be, and better understand how it can affect the communities that inhabit it. She said it can also help identify changes in an environment, and hopefully, provide insight in how to protect it against something like climate change, for example.

"It could be that the first time we report the species it just the first time we've looked hard enough for it, or it's just a special find," Cantonwine said. "It's also a possibility, especially being in South Georgia, that we're getting a sort of shift or movement of species from the south up to the north, which would be an indication that there are some changes going on."

During the Bioblitz participants were also able to identity several species that are now at Grassy Pond. Organizers said this helps to create a baseline, a snapshot in time, in order to identify future changes.

The university's findings have been accepted for publication. All of species and information can be found on INaturalist.

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