First, Tarantulas in Rouge Park; what’s next?

Posted: April 19, 2017 - 13:40 , by ROM
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A group of men & women sporting field gears and carrying nets assembled in an outdoor park

By guest blogger Nia Gibson, Coordinator of Education for Sustainable Development Programs, Toronto Zoo

The Rouge river valley has been the crux of many local conservation “eureka!” moments, including the conception of the Ontario BioBlitz project! In 2012 over 225 people came together in what is now the new Rouge Urban National Park to build a biodiversity snapshot of the area, with more than 1,400 species observed. By far the most significant discovery of the 2012 event was the observation of a black purse-web spider, Ontario’s only relative of the tarantula and a species never before seen in the Toronto area! Arachnid experts were excited and amazed at the discovery, and the Ontario Bioblitz allowed their passion to be shared with a whole community of professional and amateur naturalists alike.

A pair of photos, showing a close up top and bottom view of a black purse-web spider

The Ontario Bioblitz program creates a unique opportunity where experts can engage and interact not only with each other, but with the general public to inspire messages of biodiversity conservation in the next generation. It also allows for access to areas that have never seen dedicated biological inventories take place. A follow up Bioblitz in the Rouge increased the confirmed count to more than 1,700 species, despite many areas having been surveyed during the Bioblitz the year before. Imagine what you can find in areas that we have only been given recent access to? The Ontario Bioblitz has been all over the GTA, making significant strides in the knowledge of local biodiversity, but there is still more to learn.

A group pf men & women in blue t-shirts gather in front of an early 20th Century country house

Now here we are, 5 years from the first Ontario Bioblitz, and hoping to increase that species count once again as we return to the Rouge this summer! Significant findings take place every year, and if you don’t attend, you don’t have the chance to be the one making the best find of the blitz! So join us won’t you? Make a contribution to the knowledge base of biodiversity in Canada’s first National Urban Park, and take some time to inspire the next generation of scientists!

It’s all taking place Saturday June 24th to Sunday June 25th. This year’s event at the Rouge National Urban Park is a flagship bioblitz event, part of Bioblitz Canada 150, a Canada 150 Signature Project. The blitz not to miss!

For more information and to register:

A photo of a bend in a river, with grassy banks to the left and a forested bank to the right

Past significant Ontario Bioblitz finds include:

  • In 2016 in the Credit River Watershed we found more than 1,200 species. Of those identified, 14 were Species-At-Risk.
  • In 2015 in the Don River Watershed we found more than 1100 species, 10 were Species-At-Risk, including the endangered butternut tree.
  • In 2014 in the Humber River Watershed we found more than 1500 species, including two spiders never before found in Canada, and the endangered Acadian Flycatcher.
  • In 2013 in the Rouge Park we found more than 1700 species, including at least 80 spider species and a Smokey Shrew, all never before found in the Park.
  • In 2012 in the Rouge Park we found more than 1400 species, including the range expansion for the black purse-web spider!