Graduate Students Hold 'BioBlitz' on Mount Kessler

 Thursday, July 10, 2014

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Mount Kessler was crawling with graduate students recently, all of them interested in what else was crawling around the proposed Fayetteville regional park.

Students in the master's and doctoral degree programs in entomology and biology held a BioBlitz on Mount Kessler, counting every living organism they could identify in a 24-hour period. Jessica Hartshorn, a doctoral student in forest entomology, said the effort was twofold.

bioblitz 2014They wanted to know what was living in the area. In 24 hours, they took inventory of everything they could identify — 590 total species of plants and animals. And the students wanted to help bring awareness of the efforts to turn Mount Kessler into outdoor classrooms and additional areas for public recreation.

Hartshorn said Mount Kessler includes about 1,500 acres, most of which is urban forest within Fayetteville's city limits. The city owns about 200 acres that are dedicated as a city park. Supporters have joined forces in two organizations, Fayetteville Natural Heritage Association and Mount Kessler Greenways, to raise money to purchase more of Mount Kessler's natural area for the city park.

"The area's natural resources make it a wonderful place for recreation and education," Hartshorn said. "The Mount Kessler Greenway envisions an outdoor classroom and laboratory for all education levels from kindergarten through university graduate students."

Hartshorn said the BioBlitz was organized as a competition between the entomology and biology students. "The original plan was for the entomology students to identify insects and the biology students to identify everything else," she said. "But once we got going, we all just identified everything we knew."

Entomology won, identifying 388 species to biology's 202.

But in the end, Hartshorn said, their hope is for a win for the entire community.

Information about Mount Kessler can be found on the Mount Kessler Greenways website:


To learn more about contributing to the fund to acquire more Mount Kessler acreage for the city park, contact:

Fayetteville Natural Heritage Association
Attn: Mr. Bob Caulk
790 East Missouri Way
Fayetteville, AR 72701




Fred Miller, Science Editor
Agricultural Communication Services