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Urban Biologist

Posted on: June 17, 2016

Citizen Scientists Help Us Inventory Park Ecosystems at BioBlitz

BioBlitz Feature

Some 34 citizens joined the Dallas Park and Recreation Department for its first ever BioBlitz

Some 34 citizens joined the Dallas Park and Recreation Department for its first ever BioBlitz on Saturday, June 11.

It was all in an effort to provide a fun, nature educational outreach experience and help generate an inventory of the diverse ecosystem at William Blair Jr. Park. Citizen Scientists were able to create this inventory by downloading and then using the iNaturalist app to identify various species of vegetation and organisms.

It all started with a brief demonstration on how to use the iNaturalist app. Citizen Scientists were then broken into teams which were lead by a North Texas Master Naturalist or a known local nature enthusiast. Each team was comprised of a birdwatching enthusiast and a plant identifier specialist.

“We did it this way so that each team could have someone who could easily identify specific birds and vegetation and then offer a quick overview on that particular organism,” said Brett Johnson, Dallas Park and Recreation Urban Biologist.

Teams surveyed several areas along the Great Trinity Forest and recorded 476 observations.

“This is where the fun of iNaturalist comes into play,” said Johnson. “Once the data is entered into iNaturalist, nature lovers from around the world can view the photos, and help determine the identification of each bird, plant, insect and fungi we captured.”

Over 170 species were found. Of those, 47 were birds, 65 were plants, and 41 were insects. A contributing iNaturalist identified a duck native to South America and citizen scientists recorded a good number of pollinators.

“There is plenty of helpful information to glean from this survey and we’ll be doing that over the next few weeks, said Johnson. “The pleasant surprise for me was the diversity of plants and insects that were observed and recorded in two short hours.”

The next BioBlitz will be held in the fall and it will most likely be at Harry S. Moss Park in northeast Dallas. Citizen Scientists are encouraged to add to the current inventory all summer long.

Learn more about the iNaturalist project!
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