Scientists have discovered new species at the Beanblossom Bottoms Nature Preserve, a Bloomington wetland owned by the conservation nonprofit Sycamore Land Trust, while surveying the land to learn more about its biodiversity, according to a press release.
Each year, the Indiana Academy of Science selects one protected property in Indiana where they conduct an intensive biological survey to identify and preserve important species of plants, animals and insects.
This year, 70 scientists affiliated with the academy worked with the Sycamore Land Trust to study Beanblossom. Volunteers discovered the zigzag iris, which had not been previously documented at the preserve, and the endangered Kirtland’s snake, which occupies moist meadows and prairies.
John Lawrence, executive director of the Sycamore Land Trust, said in the release that finding the snake at the preserve opened the door for further study on what habitats can best protect the creature.
Paul Doss, former president of the Indiana Academy of Science, said in the release that biodiversity is declining locally and nationwide. Biodiversity loss can lead to species extinction, interrupted food production, increased crop-eating pests and less CO2 absorption.
Additionally, the likelihood of future pandemics increases as biodiversity decreases. Research suggests animals such as bats and rats, which are more likely to host pathogens that can jump to humans, tend to survive more often.
The Indiana Academy of Science plans to return to Beanblossom Bottoms Nature Preserve in 10 years to see how results have changed over time.