iNaturalist is a great platform for conducting a Bioblitz!
A Bioblitz is a communal citizen-science effort to record as many species within a designated location and time period as possible.
Bioblitzes are great ways to engage the public to connect to their environment while generating useful data for science and conservation. They are also an excuse for naturalists, scientists, and curious members of the public to meet in person in the great outdoors and are alot of fun!Photos courtesy of Nerds for Nature from Bioblitzes using iNaturalist at Lake Merritt, Pillar Point, and McLaren Park respectively
Public participation is what separates Bioblitzes from traditional biological inventories. iNaturalist makes it easy for anyone to genuinely participate in your Bioblitz by recording observations.
Who says Bioblitzes are just about outreach? Because iNaturalist observations are independently identified and verified as research-quality data, your Bioblitz, no matter how small, will contribute directly to science.
iNaturalist will automatically tally a species count for your Bioblitz and provides many tools for visualizing and communicating Bioblitz results to participants and onlookers.
Here are a few Bioblitz projects on iNaturalist that caught our attention:
Or check the Bioblitz Project calendar to find upcoming and recently completed Bioblitzes.Wrap session at the Heron's Head Bioblitz
Here are some useful documents to help get starting using iNaturalist in your bioblitz:
You should also check out materials developed by our friends at Nerds for Nature, who pioneered the concept of a grassroots bioblitz using iNaturalist, particularly their 10 Steps to Bioblitz post, and their Bioblitz Recipe Book.
If you are doing a bioblitz in a more formal educational setting, here are some resources developed by the Macaulay Honors College at CUNY. They use the bioblitz as the foundational experience for a semester-long inquiry-based undergraduate course to build science skills.
Once you've picked a location and date you'll need to get to work organizing your Bioblitz. Your responsibilities as the organizer are to:
Follow these steps to configure iNat to group and count your Bioblitz observations!
There are several ways to do this. You'll probably want to set up a Bioblitz project on iNaturalist, but its worth exploring other options too. In either case, you'll want to get iNaturalist set up for your Bioblitz in advance so you'll have a web address ready to send around so that its easy for participants and onlookers to find your Bioblitz on iNaturalist.
If you can find a wild critter and take a picture of it you can participate as a Bioblitz observer! So the general public is a great place to recruit observers.
But make sure the public understands their role as observers is participatory and that their objective is to drive the Bioblitz count by recording and uploading observations that will be identifiable.
Emphasize using the mobile apps to people new to iNat - they're easiest to use. But also recruit a few experienced iNat observers with macro and telephoto lenses so that birds and tiny critters are well represented.
Observing isn't hard, but its hard to get people familiar with iNaturalist during the chaos of a Bioblitz. Help get observers familiar posting observations before the Bioblitz starts. The best first step is to get familiar posting observations yourself!
Observations need to be uploaded to iNat to be counted. This requires cell service or wifi.
If your Bioblitz site has no service, organize a post-bioblitz gathering at a venue that does, like a nearby cafe. Otherwise, be sure to remind observers to upload when they get home. Uploading from the app is straightforward. But photos from cameras need to be first uploaded to a computer and then added to iNaturalist as observations. Observers will likely want to do this from home, but we recommend having a laptop connected to the internet on-hand to demo the process if needed.
The best way to make sure uploading will go smoothly during your Bioblitz is to conduct an on-site solo rehearsal beforehand.
Observations need to be identified before being counted. We highly recommend that you encourage observers to focus on recording independently verifiable observations (ie observations with good photos) rather than worry too much about making field identifications. They'll have plenty of time to contribute to the identification process when they're done making observations.
But recruiting skilled identifiers to review observations as they are uploaded is a great way to engage naturalists and scientists who can't make it to the Bioblitz in person and to speed up the rate recruiting the rate that Bioblitz observations are identified (median 'background' time is 3.5 days). A mix of skilled naturalists with local knowledge and specialists from museums, universities, or other institutions makes for an ideal identifying team. Here's a quick way to get identifiers familiar making identifications on iNaturalist.
Reporting back to bioblitz participants by communicating the results of a Bioblitz is a great way to thank participants bring the event to conclusion.
iNaturalist has several tools to help you write up a report and share it with participants.