Busey Woods BioBlitzes - 2005 & 2019


During a BioBlitz event we find and identify as many species as possible in a specific area over a short period. Scientists and volunteers survey to get a snapshot of an area’s biodiversity. Biodiversity refers to all the variety of life. The more variety the better the diversity. 

Scientists identify and count as many species as possible in a 24-hour period. The biological survey identifies the many species that live in Busey Woods. A Busey Woods BioBlitz occurred twice: June 24-25, 2005 and September 27-28, 2019.

  • 2005: 1,326 species. Nearly 1,000 species were unique to the 2005 June survey. The plant hopper, Pissonotus aphididioides Van Duzee [photo #1] was a new addition to the state species list. 
  • 2019: 884 species. Nearly 650 were unique to the 2019 September survey. Two species of small minnow mayflies, Apobaetis Etowah and Procloeon viridoculare, [photo #2] were new species for Illinois. 
  • 328 species were found during both 2005 and 2019.


Busey Woods BioBlitzes Species Count

  2005 2019
Invertebrates (not insects) 127 68
Insects 611 321
Plants 415 327
Fungi 62 63
Birds 56 71
Fish 30 16
Mammals 13 13
Amphibians 2 3
Reptiles 0 2
Total: 1316 884




(Left to Right) Photos by: John Schneider, CDFW, and Jason Neuswanger


Using iNaturalist

Smartphone technologies and apps such as iNaturalist make collecting photographs and biological information about living things easy to use in a BioBlitz. High quality data uploaded to iNaturalist become part of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, a database used by scientists. 

iNaturalist Video Tutorial


Species in Busey Woods & Crystal Lake Park Today

Staff at the Anita Purves Nature Center are periodically updating a list of over 2,000 species found in Busey Woods and Crystal Lake Park. You can view the "Lifeforms of Busey Woods/Crystal Lake Park" master list here. This list aims to catalog every single living organism that has been observed within the 133-acre Busey Woods/Crystal Lake Park "habitat complex". Data has been pulled from research-grade iNaturalist observations, eBird, and species identified by scientific researchers and from past BioBlitz events.

If you would like to help contribute to the master list, the easiest way to do so is to record iNaturalist observations! If you've seen an organism in Busey Woods or Crystal Lake Park that is not on the list, and you have sufficient evidence (photos of the organism, signs such as tracks, scat, etc), please feel free to email the Interpretive Naturalist at cjross@urbanaparks.org. If you have some expertise in identifying certain organisms, please feel free to reach out as well.

Believe it or not, this list is definitely not complete. But with over 2,000 organisms recorded, what could be missing? Surprisingly, some mammals might be absent from the list. Gray foxes, otters, and bobcats are carnivorous mammals that rely on woods and riparian corridors, and can be found in every county of Illinois. It's possible they may wander through Busey Woods and have not yet been recorded. Some smaller mammals, such as voles and shrews, may not be recorded yet as well. It is entirely possible that a new bird species might stop by sometime, but our resident species are likely all accounted for, as are the reptiles and amphibians. New fishes may rarely appear. There could be a few plant species that have been overlooked, unseen, or may establish themselves in the future from seed dispersal. Fungi are finicky, and fruiting bodies (mushrooms) may only appear when conditions are exactly right.

The bulk of the remaining "cryptic diversity" is to be found on a smaller scale. We are surely at the very tip of the iceberg when it comes to understanding what microorganisms abound on and within every surface. With this in mind, always keep your eyes and ears open in the woods! You might help us expand what we know of the already incredible diversity of Busey Woods and Crystal Lake Park.


Busey Woods: Quick Forest Facts

Busey Woods is a 59-acre remnant of Big Grove, a large woodland area that grew along the drainage of the Saline Branch and the Salt Fork of the Vermilion River. This grove, an island of trees in the midst of a prairie sea, once extended from Urbana to Rantoul and from the Saline Branch to the Salt Fork. It was originally an area comprising 10 square miles of trees surrounded by wet tall grass prairie growing on soils of glacial origin. Busey Woods and a section of the district's Weaver Park are the only surviving parcels of the Big Grove that are open to the public.

Staff at the Anita Purves Nature Center use Busey Woods for a number of programs that meet the environmental educational goals established by the Illinois State Board of Education. In addition, 20,000 visitors use the woods on self-guided tours annually. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources recognizes Busey Woods as a Watchable Wildlife Site.