Do you know what kind of turtle this is?*
Later this month, TTF will host our first ever watershed-wide BioBlitz. What is a BioBlitz? The goal of any BioBlitz is to catalogue ALL of the living things in a given area – a BioBlitz is meant to understand the diversity of life or what we call the “biodiversity” of that particular area.
Understanding biodiversity is important for many reasons. Knowing the biodiversity of a region or habitat helps scientists understand how those environments/ecosystems are working and if they are “healthy.” Greater biodiversity almost always results in a healthier and more robust ecosystem that provides cleaner water and air and supports more pollinators and beneficial insects. These benefits received from a healthy ecosystem are “ecosystem services”.
A typical BioBlitz brings naturalists with specific expertise together with “amateur naturalists”, people simply interested in seeing what they can find. Together, everyone sets out to survey the area in that and brings their findings back to the experts for identification and data recording.
One challenge of running your own BioBlitz (as TTF is doing) is finding enough experts from a variety of fields that can help identify everything you find.
Fortunately, an app has recently been developed that can help solve this problem — iNaturalist. iNaturalist has become the ultimate tool for conducting your own BioBlitz. iNaturalist is essentially a one-stop BioBlitz shop for observation to identification to data collection.
TTF is excited to utilize it for our very own BioBlitz! iNaturalist is essentially a one-stop shop for a BioBlitz from observation to identification to data collection.
Here’s how you can get started:
- Download the iNaturalist app from GooglePlay or the Apple Store and make an account. If you don’t have a mobile device you can also make an account by visiting iNaturalist and uploading your photos to your computer to submit.
- Join projects in your area. Please join our project for anything in the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed: submit observations to the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Creek Biological Survey. For observations during the week of 4/21-4/28, submit observations to Tookany/Tacony-Frankford BioBlitz Spring 2018.
- Start taking photos! For every observation you make, you can submit multiple photos of that organism. Taking photos of the same plant or animal from different angles or showing different parts of a single plant will help the app recognize what species it might be.
- Check back! You will see very quickly that there are plenty of experts mining through observations that have been submitted to help identify what you’ve found. iNaturalist will upgrade your observation to “Research Grade” once there is a consensus on what you have found.
Note: Don’t identify your own observations unless ABSOLUTELY certain! In other words, let the experts on iNaturalist do their job. Although, you can help them find your observations by putting some general identifications on your observations (i.e. if you find a frog, you can select the group Amphibia and get the attention of an amphibian’s expert to take a look and ID it further.)
The goal of our BioBlitz is simple: to see what species we can find in our watershed. Typically, a BioBlitz will run for 24 hours straight in one location, but we have developed a different strategy to engage constituents from all over our watershed. The BioBlitz will officially kick-off on Earth Day on April 21st and will conclude on April 28th. We will host simultaneous events at both High School Park in Elkins Park and Tacony Creek Park in Philadelphia. Feel free to submit your observations all week long and then come join us at one of our BioBlitz events to see what we can find in our local parks!
We ask that you RSVP for one of the BioBlitz events at High School Park or Tacony Creek Park on Saturday, April 28. Walk-ins are also welcome.
For the High School Park BioBlitz, RSVP to email@example.com
For the Tacony Creek Park BioBlitz, RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
*It’s a Common Snapping Turtle. See you at the BioBlitz!