VIU Student Researchers and Faculty Organize Annual BioBlitz Event

Kidston Short, left, a Vancouver Island University (VIU) Geography student and MABRRI Research Assistant, and Heather Klassen, a Research Ecologist, conduct a survey of flora during last year’s BioBlitz. Vancouver Island University Photo

April 13, 2018 - 12:00pm

Community volunteers sought to survey flora and fauna

 Community members have the opportunity to contribute to biodiversity research during the third annual Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region (MABR) BioBlitz.

The event is organized and run by student researchers from Vancouver Island University’s (VIU’s) Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region Research Institute (MABRRI) and student and faculty volunteers from a variety of departments, including Geography, Forestry, Biology, Tourism and Recreation, and others.

“Expert volunteers and students have an opportunity to share their knowledge with the wider community while contributing to biodiversity research in the region,” says Kayla Harris, BioBlitz Coordinator and a MABRRI Senior Research Assistant.

The BioBlitz will help volunteers gain basic field skills for identifying species and taking field notes.

“The BioBlitz also provides an opportunity to connect youth with environmental stewardship in their region and stimulate passion and interest in the natural environments we all share and live in,” says Harris.

People are invited to help survey flora and fauna on Saturday, April 21 from 9 am to 4 pm at Milner Gardens and Woodland in Qualicum Beach or Englishman River Regional Park (Top Bridge Trailhead) in Parksville. Participants can choose between the morning and afternoon sessions, or sign up for both. For volunteers surveying at Milner Gardens no experience is necessary, but participants for the Englishman River Regional Park must have previous experience as they will be conducting individual surveys without guidance.

Harris says biodiversity is vital to maintaining stable ecosystems on Vancouver Island and around the world. Decreases in biodiversity can affect generations of species at all levels of an ecosystem.

“When changes to our ecosystem community occur, it has the ability to create a domino effect, which can sometimes be destructive to ecosystems and the environment as a whole,” she says, adding that the more diversity in a region the more it is able to support a greater number of plant and animal species. “Many species are reliant on other species within an ecosystem to provide the necessities of life, which increase their chance of survival, be it flora or fauna.”

Harris has been coordinating the event for the past three years and says it has been rewarding for her education and her career.

“I have a deep love for the environment and am very interested in ecology. I am not a trained ecologist; however, through an event such as BioBlitz, I am able to conduct citizen science and use my physical geography education to help others learn similar field skills that can help them become stewards in their everyday lives, as I have,” says Harris.

To register for the BioBlitz, visit



Rachel Stern, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University

C: 250.618.7296 | E:| T: @VIUNews

Tags: MABRRI | In the Community