COLUMBIA - It's time to pull out the binoculars and lather on the bug spray - the 2008 Columbia BioBlitz is coming Friday and Saturday.
BioBlitz, a 24-hour communitywide event held by MU's conservation biology program, encourages participants to explore and identify as many different species of local flora and fauna as possible.
"It's a major community outreach tool," said Jen Hamel, a biological sciences graduate student and BioBlitz public relations representative. "Biodiversity is not something that you need to travel to the Amazon to see. There is a broad array of flora and fauna here."
The event kicks off Friday at 5 p.m. at the Twin Lakes Recreation Area Shelter. Six two-hour, guided educational walks will be led throughout Forum Nature Area by local naturalists to identify various types of flora, fauna and fungi. The event concludes Saturday at 5 p.m. with an ice cream social.
BioBlitz was first initiated in Washington, D.C., in 1996 and has since spread to communities as far as New Zealand and Portugal.
This marks the fifth BioBlitz held in Columbia since the program was started by biological sciences graduate students Sara Storrs and Jan Weaver in September 2005. Since then, the program has continued to be run by MU graduate students from the biological sciences, fisheries and wildlife, forestry and plant sciences departments.
Organizers hope to have between 100 and 150 participants this weekend. BioBlitz is free, but participants must register through the Web site, http://bioblitz.missouri.edu.