Guest Blog by Trae Jordan, TTF Watershed Partnership Intern
We celebrated Earth Day with a BioBlitz that included 82 observers, 457 species, and 1500 observations!
Even amidst a global pandemic, residents in Philadelphia and Montgomery County were able to get outside, enjoy the fresh air, and participate in our recent BioBlitz! This BioBlitz was how we honored and celebrated Earth Day 50 here at TTF Watershed Partnership. We even hosted a webinar on how to use iNaturalist to make sure people had the information they needed to jump right in and start iNatting!
A BioBlitz is a gathering (at a distance) at which local residents document as many species as possible including animals, insects, plants, and more. These participants added to our TTF Watershed project through iNaturalist, which has over 12,000 observations in our watershed of almost 1,500 species by over 600 different people and groups.
To promote social distancing, community members were encouraged to participate on their own or with their family for the week spanning April 20 – April 27. As participants found different species, they were able to take pictures and submit them to our watershed project. As people post observations, other users and the app’s predictive feature helps people to identify what they have observed.
In this year’s BioBlitz, with the help of 82 individual observers, over 1,500 observations were submitted. Over the course of the week, participants documented 457 different species, which is nearly 10% more than last year!
Some of the most observed flora included Garlic Mustard and the Common Star-of-Bethlehem and some of the most observed fauna included the Northern Cardinal and the American Robin. There were even a handful of glimpses of the Red-tailed Hawk, Cedar Waxwings, and the blossoming Celandine Poppy. Former TTF Staff member and avid naturalist Robin Irizarry led the charge with observations of 190 different species. Way to go, Robin!
These observations are critical to the work that we do. iNaturalist serves as a great tool to engage local residents, and provides data for scientists and researchers. It helps us to get a better understanding of the species that live in our watershed, and how our restoration work is affecting that composition. One other way that observations from iNaturalist are utilized is by helping us identify invasive species at some of our restoration sites and in Tacony Creek Park.
BioBlitzes like this one can offer a unique opportunity to understand more about the natural wildlife of our city. Even living in a dense urban environment, we share much of our space with nature and it is always great to learn more about what lives and thrives in our environment alongside us.
Not only did people participate in our annual BioBlitz, they also joined in the Philadelphia City Nature Challenge, which ran from April 24 -27 in Philadelphia and the surrounding counties of Bucks (PA), Chester (PA), Delaware (PA), Montgomery (PA), Gloucester (NJ), Burlington (NJ), and Camden (NJ) County.
The City Nature Challenge is a global challenge between cities to see who can document the most species in a short period of time. This year’s challenge was not a competition due to the effects of COVID-19. However, Philadelphia came in 6th globally with over 20,000 observations!
Any questions? Contact our iNaturalist expert: Ryan@ttfwatershed.org.