2017 BioBlitz at Cayuga Nature Center and Smith Woods

In September, 2017, fourteen taxonomic teams of scientists and volunteers joined forces to count as many species as they could over a 24-hour period at the Cayuga Nature Center and the old-growth forest remnant Smith Woods. This fantastic SIPS BioBlitz event ended up cataloging over 500 macroscopic species and 25,000 species of microbes while also engaging the public in a multitude of exciting activities. These pages document that event. 



The Cayuga Basin


Birds Fungi Insects Lichens and Bryophytes
Mammals Microbes Mollusks
Plant Pathogens  Reptiles and Amphibians Spiders Vascular Plants

Species List


Introductory Video

About the locations of the BioBlitz

The Cayuga Nature Center is a public educational venue situated on 120 acres of land on the west shore of Cayuga Lake. The facility has had a history as a camp for children since early in the twentieth century. The Lodge, its main building, was completed in 1939 by the Works Progress Administration. While it was closed during the 1940s, it was leased by Cornell University for student housing during the 1950s. After that ended, the building was again used as a camp for children. In the 1960s, a program was established for providing outdoor education with BOCES using the Lodge and grounds as a base for promoting outdoor and environmental studies. In the 1980s the name was changed to the Cayuga Nature Center, offering environmental education to local school districts and the rental of its facilities for groups. In 1981, the Cayuga Nature Center was incorporated as an independent, private, non-profit educational organization.

In 2013, the Paleontological Research Institution (PRI) took over the Cayuga Nature Center to be utilized as one of their public venues for education. The Nature Center’s stated mission is to cultivate an awareness, appreciation, and responsibility for the natural world through outdoor and environmental education. PRI has been focusing on making the Nature Center into a premier educational center for teaching and learning about the impact of climate change on the fauna and flora of Tompkins County. The 120-acre property includes large tracks of woodlands, wetlands, gorges, and meadows. The Nature Center is also home to dozens of live Animal Ambassadors, a six-story treehouse, gardens, two 650-gallon aquaria that showcase both past and present aquatic life in Cayuga Lake, and educational exhibits on the ecology and climate science of the Cayuga Lakes bioregion. 

Henry A. Smith Woods is a 32-acre old-growth forest located in Trumansburg, New York. Henry Atterbury Smith (1822-1891) was a businessman from New York City who had purchased this parcel of land as a summer residence and although he visited the property sparingly, he was a well-known member of the Trumansburg community. In 1909, this undeveloped forest fragment was left to the Village of Trumansburg by Henry A Smith’s sons to be preserved as a public park forever. The purpose of the park is “to execute and carry out the terms of the trust in the spirit of the grant, namely the preservation of the park in its natural state and for educational and recreational purposes”

In 2007, ownership of this forest was transferred to Cayuga Nature Center to continue it’s use as an educational site. Since the transfer, a loop trail was created and the Cayuga Nature Center staff have continued to uphold the mission of the park including hosting school visits and public hikes. Smith Woods is open to the public year-round and has been used by scientists for a number of studies.


Mann Library Gallery Exhibit

A multi-media exhibit about the BioBlitz ran from November 14, 2018 to January 27, 2019 in the Gallery in the Albert R. Mann Library, on the Cornell University campus.  The exhibit was a joint effort of Paleontological Research institute and Cornell University which explored the event, its findings, and applications while celebrating the depth and range of diversity in our Cayuga Basin.


BioBlitz Exhibit in Mann Library