BioBlitz! In the Forest
BioBlitz! 2018 was in the eastern side of Oklahoma at Greenleaf State Park, near Braggs featuring the 930-acre Greenleaf Lake. This park originates from the New Deal era and from the work of the Works Progress Administartion (WPA). The stone cabins and facilities, constructed by the CCC, WPA, and German prisoners of war, date back to the 1930s-1940s. This part of the state is hilly, as it is situated on the edge of the Boston Mountains, and is covered by oak and hickory forest.
338 Expert Biologists & Citizen Scientists
765 Species Observed
- Fish 27
- Mammals 21
- Reptiles & Amphibians (herps) 28
- Birds 67
- Fungi 37
- Lichens 20
- Plants, vascular 191
- Plants, non vascular 21
- Aquatic Invertebrates 41
- Terrestrial Invertebrates (insects, arachnids, etc..) 312
Download lists of all the Species Observed!
The American Burying Beetle, commonly abbreviated ABB, is our highlighted taxa for 2018. This beetle measures 1 to 1.5 inches and is the largest member of the carrion beetle family (silphidae)! It’s coloration is striking with red and black markings over its wing-covers and orange, fan-shaped antennae tips. This nocturnal beetle specializes in the consumption of dead animals, which it uses as a nursery for its young. Adult beetles emerge in May to search for carcasses and pair off. Once they’ve found a large enough carcass they bury it in an underground chamber where they clean the animal and chemically preserve it. The female lays eggs inside the carcass, while the male tends to the new young. These young emerge as adults sometime before October to feed, and burrow underground until May once temperatures cool consistently!
The American Burying Beetle was listed as federally endangered in 1989. The ABB, which once was found across most states in the US, reached a low-point of just one known population in 1989. The species has since seen an increase in numbers due to the efforts of a wide variety of conservationists and advocacy groups, but still has a way to go before it fills its former range. Oklahoma is one of the hot-spots for American Burying Beetle conservation. We have records of ABB in at least 29 eastern counties, where the beetles prefer open, oak-hickory forests with native grass cover. The causes of its decline are unsure, but they’re thought to include habitat loss/fragmentation, pesticide use, and the reduction of carcass availability. Despite its gruesome parenting strategy, the ABB and other decomposers/detritovores serve a unique role in the recycling of ecosystem nutrients.
Follow these links if you would like learn more about the American Burying Beetle:
Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (1) (2)
The Banished Beetle Project Facebook Page
OSU Page on ABB
Recent ODWC Report on American Burying Beetle Populations in Oklahoma