2019 Ontario Botanists' Big Year's Journal

January 01, 2020

2019 Ontario Botanists' Big Year Summary

Wow. Just wow.

The 2019 Big Year was a huge success. Over 200,000 observations were submitted to the project. That's ten times the number of observations submitted to the first Big Year in 2018. Every single municipality and ecoregion in the province was represented this year and a total of 3,150 species were observed, 2,906 of which were vascular plants (Tracheophyta). Approximately 3,300 species of vascular plants are known to occur in Ontario which means that approximately 88% of the known vascular flora of Ontario was observed this year!

Some noteworthy observations submitted to the Big Year included a new species for Ontario found by Kevin Gevaert (@kevin_gevaert) and major range extensions for other species. Some elusive and charismatic species were submitted, like this observation of Splachnum luteum, a rare and mysterious moss that grows only on moose dung, submitted by Gwyn Govers (@gwynethgovers).

At the beginning of the year, I challenged participants to observe more than 1,000 species of plants in 2019. Not only were people up for the challenge but four of you succeeded in observing over 1,000 species this year. The top observers in 2019 by number of species observed were:

  1. Pat Deacon (@pwdeacon)
  2. Joanne Redwood (@jem9redwood)
  3. Quinten Wiegersma (@birds_bugs_botany)
  4. Reuven Martin (@reuvenm)
  5. Will Van Hemessen (@wdvanhem)
  6. Carl-Adam Wegenschimmel (@carl-adam)
  7. Graham Buck (@g_buck)
  8. Donald Sutherland (@donaldasutherland)
  9. Tristan Knight (@t_knight)
  10. Andrew Minielly (@aminielly)
Some of you might recall that not only did I challenge participants to observe over 1,000 species this year but that I also offered a Special Prize to anyone who did. I was not expecting four of you to do this! But I still want to give each of the "One-Thousand Club" a special gift for their contributions to field botany in Ontario in 2019. The One-Thousand Club in 2019 is Pat Deacon, Joanne Redwood, Quinten Wiegersma and Reuven Martin. Congrats! For my part, I wasn't able to do nearly as much botanizing this year as I had hoped. But I lived vicariously through the rest of you by spending way too much time identifying observations. The top identifiers this year played an important role in confirming identifications and helping novice botanists identify difficult species. The top identifiers were:
  1. Will Van Hemessen (@wdvanhem)
  2. Brian Popelier (@popb25)
  3. Gwyn Govers (@gwynethgovers)
  4. Oliver Reichl (@arborsphere)
  5. Quinten Wiegersma (@birds_bugs_botany)

It's easy to find hundreds of species when you visit some of the more biodiverse parts of the province. Hotspots like Ojibway Prairie, Point Pelee National Park, the Norfolk Sand Plain and the Bruce Peninsula accounted for a large proportion of observations this year. But some parts of the province were underrepresented. The five municipalities with the fewest species observed in 2019 were: Kenora District, Perth County, Prince Edward County, Rainy River District and Timiskaming District. With this in mind, I'd like to formally invite everyone to participate in the 2020 Ontario Botanists' Big Year. In addition to the One-Thousand Club, I will give a special prize to the top observers in each of those five counties in 2020.

Thanks to everyone who participated in 2019. Happy new year and good botanizing!

  • Will V

Posted on January 01, 2020 19:01 by wdvanhem wdvanhem | 12 comments | Leave a comment

December 02, 2019

One month left and almost 200,000 observations

It's December 1st, which means there's just one month left to make and submit observations for the 2019 Big Year. Now is the time to challenge yourself to identify bryophytes and winter flora - even a dessicated stem of prairie grass counts towards the Big Year, as long as it's verifiable.

What's more exciting is that we are just 17 observations shy of 200,000! While we are still a month away from the final tally, this means that over 200,000 unique observations of plants will be made in Ontario in 2019. Can we possibly hit a quarter of a million? This is a fantastic contribution to our knowledge of Ontario's wild flora.

For those feeling competitive, I see four users who have already observed more than 1,000 species this year. That's more than anyone observed in 2018. I will stick to my word and give all users who observe more than 1,000 species a special plant-related prize.

Keep on botanizing, folks. You'll be hearing from me again in the new year.

-Will V

Posted on December 02, 2019 00:52 by wdvanhem wdvanhem | 2 comments | Leave a comment

January 15, 2019

RULES - Ontario Botanists' Big Year 2019

For those joining the project for the first time, the Big Year rules are as follows:

  1. All observations must be from within the province of Ontario
  2. Observations must be made between January 1 and December 31, 2019
  3. Observations must have a photo
  4. Observations must be of WILD plants. This is always a contentious one. "Wild" means that a) the organism was not deliberately planted by humans and b) the organism is clearly established and reproducing independently of human intervention. Yes, there is some grey area (what to do about plants introduced outside of their native range as part of "restoration" projects?), but in general, make an effort to observe plants that form part of the natural ecosystem, which can include non-native species.
  5. Observations must be submitted before midnight on December 31, 2019, to count towards the competitive stats. For those not feeling competitive, the project will always be open and you can contribute observations indefinitely.

Have a great year of botanizing!

-Will V

Posted on January 15, 2019 22:50 by wdvanhem wdvanhem | 2 comments | Leave a comment

January 06, 2019

Invitation to the 2019 Ontario Botanists' Big Year

Hi Everyone,

I'm still getting used to iNat's new project format and I don't see an option to invite users to the project. So tell your friends, spread it around!

@pwdeacon @gwynethgovers @owenclarkin @wjcrins @jem9red @bkorol @bkinder832 @rroutledge @birds_bugs_botany @cmcheatle

Posted on January 06, 2019 14:26 by wdvanhem wdvanhem | 7 comments | Leave a comment