College News


On September 7 and 8, 2019, hundreds of Macaulay Honors College sophomores will comb through Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery and the Gowanus Canal area to identify as many of the organisms living there as possible. Students will work in shifts to collect data alongside local naturalists, CUNY faculty, and scientists for 36 hours at both of these iconic Brooklyn locations.

“A bioblitz provides a snapshot of the plants and animals in a particular ecosystem,” explains Kelly O’Donnell, Macaulay’s Director of Science Forward. “And for many of our students, the Macaulay BioBlitz will be their first exposure to collecting real scientific data within a complex ecosystem. Macaulay has uniquely integrated the bioblitz into its science curriculum—no other institution offers this immersive experience to each of its students.”

Macaulay BioBlitz begins on Saturday, September 7 at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn. The cemetery is one of the city’s most important arboreta, with over 8,000 trees and shrubs. 478 acres of hills, valleys, glacial ponds and paths provide habitats for a wide variety of birds, insects, bats, raccoons, and much more.

Macaulay BioBlitz continues on Sunday, September 8 at the Gowanus Canal. The canal has a centuries-old history as an industrial waterway, but is today the object of ongoing restoration efforts sponsored by local activists and federal authorities. Students will look for plant and animal life in the water and along the banks.

Now in its seventh year, students have seen amazing organisms at each previous Macaulay BioBlitz such as bats in Central Park, deer in Inwood Hill Park, and eels under the Brooklyn Bridge. Their research is a testament to the ways in which urban wildlife responds to human activities. In 2013, for example, chipmunk repopulation was confirmed in Central Park after the species’ years-long hiatus. “The Gowanus Canal and Green-Wood Cemetery are important ecosystems right here in the city,” emphasizes Lisa Brundage, Macaulay’s Director of Teaching Learning and Technology. “We’re looking forward to working with students to see firsthand how humans—and nature—have shaped these areas.”

Although the Macaulay BioBlitz is not open to the public, data collected during the event will be available free through the iNaturalist platform and on our website. Macaulay BioBlitz is sponsored by the Green-Wood Historic Fund and Gowanus Canal Conservancy.



Kathryn Lineberger
Macaulay External Relations
212 729 2912

Lisa Brundage
Macaulay Director of Teaching, Learning,
and Technology
212 729 2936