The Fort Pierre National Grassland is set to be chock full of scientists over the next few days for what’s known as a “Bio Blitz”.

Biologists from around the region are converging on the grassland in an attempt to get a better handle on just how many different species of plant and animal are actually out there, said Dan Svingen district ranger.

“It’s tough to manage all the parts if you don’t know what they are,” Svingen said of the grassland.

The Fort Pierre National Grassland bio blitz is one of several similar events taking place all around South Dakota on federal lands, Svingen said. They’ve been done for a number of years around the country to give land managers a big influx of data at one time. They then use the data to make better decisions about how best to manage the lands they oversee.

Around 20 scientists and graduate students from three states are expected to participate in the Fort Pierre bio blitz, Svingen said. The focus for grassland staff, he said, will be on nesting birds and flowering plants, which is one reason why the blitz was scheduled for June, even though the month is busy time for scientists who deal with wildlife.

Most of the work slated to take place on Saturday.

Other groups have been on the grassland this week too, Svingen said. A team of South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department fisheries biologists has been working on a survey of some of the grassland ponds. Brian Patrick from Dakota Wesleyan University will be looking for spiders and a team from South Dakota State University will be sampling aquatic plants.

The South Dakota Ornithologists Union also will be participating, Svingen said.

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