Bioblitz 2024: Staff, students and school children identify over 400 species on Hartpury campus

Staff and students at Hartpury University and Hartpury College were joined by 60 children from Hartpury Primary School and 12 taxonomic experts for a special bioblitz event on Friday 10 and Saturday 11 May 2024.

The bioblitz is a biological inventory or census, that surveys the overall count of plants, animals, fungi and other organisms that live in a particular place. Four hundred and sixty-two species were found during the 24-hour period that covered the 360-hectare campus.

Among the species identified, the bioblitz revealed five species of bat, 56 species of bird, 28 species of lichen, and 206 species of invertebrates. Several protected species including great crested newts and hedgehogs, in addition to the bats, were recorded.

A particularly notable identification was a rare fungus Cryptovalsa protracta, which has only been recorded four times in England previously, found by Tony Chat, a specialist in fungi from Stroud University.

Lucy Bearman-Brown, Programme Manager of the BSc (Hons) Zoology at Hartpury University said:“We saw a really varied range of species during the survey and it’s amazing how many plants and animals live on our beautiful campus, which will be a particular benefit for our new MSc Biodiversity Conservation. While the findings overall are impressive, it’s important to note that the number of invertebrates recorded was far lower than expected. This observation aligns with a national concern regarding declining invertebrate populations across diverse habitats, highlighting the need for all of us to maximise and sustain our conservation efforts.

“The success of the bioblitz event wouldn’t have been possible without the dedicated efforts of our students, particularly those studying our BSc (Hons) Zoology. They, alongside staff from our animal department, played a pivotal role in organising and running the event, coordinating volunteers and managing the data. I’d also like to thank the children and staff from Hartpury Primary School, too. It’s always great seeing future generations gaining an early interest in conservation and love for our environment.”

Hartpury College students from BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma Animal Management, BTEC Extended Diploma Countryside Management and A-levels all took part. Events like this enhance the teaching experience for students across a range of college, undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, led by dedicated and highly experienced academics with a wealth of expertise and experience in all areas of animal welfare, science, behaviour, and conservation.

Hartpury University’s new MSc Biodiversity Conservation degree is available to study from September 2024. The programme will equip postgraduate students with the knowledge and skills necessary to address the pressing challenges facing biodiversity conversation today. The institution will also host the International Society for Anthrozoology (ISAZ) Conference from 27-30 June 2024, as well as welcoming Dr Aubrey Fine to officially launch a new MSc Animal Assisted Counselling and Psychotherapy on 26 June 2024.