Franklin Park Zoo Biodiversity Project
Dr. Eric Baitchman, DVM, DACZM Zoo New England, Franklin Park Zoo, Boston, MA
Zoo New England and Grassroots Wildlife Conservation are working on the Franklin Park Biodiversity Project to assess and preserve the natural biodiversity of Franklin Park in Boston, MA, and engage the local community in education of biodiversity and conservation.
Seasonal surveys have been conducted to record observations of wildlife within the "Wilderness" section of the park, outside of Franklin Park Zoo's gates. Each survey, or bio-blitz, is conducted over nine days during which time staff and public participants catalogue observations of mammals, amphibians, birds, reptiles, invertebrates, plants, and fungi, using iNaturalist. Over 300 species have been identified thus far.
We just completed this year's summer surveys this past week and were finally able to include bats in our observations by using the Echo Meter Touch. We held a well-attended public bat walk where we made our first recordings of local bat species. A dozen participants had a very good experience, and the EMT was key to that success. The device provides such an engaging and educational interface to get people excited about finding bats and "experiencing" exactly what's going on as the often unseen shapes fly by in the night. At least two different bat species were added to our biodiversity survey, including big brown bats and red bats, and possibly a third, the silver haired bat, though we are still learning about determining accuracy of the identifications made with the device.
Franklin Park Zoo will host an additional public walk this summer and we are excited to be joined by a Wildlife Acoustics staff member, who will help both the public participants and ourselves to learn more about how the technology works and how to better interpret the results.