iNaturalist and Bioblitzes are fun ways to contribute to our understanding of the natural world as community scientists.
What is iNaturalist?
When I am out hiking and see a beautiful flower or a moth that looks completely unusual, I pull out my phone and open iNaturalist. iNaturalist is a free mobile app where I document my finding and get help from other community members and scientists to identify the species that I encounter.
iNaturalist is like social media but nature-focused. While using the platform, anyone can upload a photo and receive input from others, using either a phone, tablet, or computer. Your post can become research-grade once at least two people agree on the species identification. This means other scientists can use something you saw to answer a research question like “what is the range for where Velvet ants are found in California?”
What is a Bioblitz?
A Bioblitz is when people make observations (take a photo) of what they see and post it to iNaturalist within a specific location and time period. BioBlitzes harness the power of community scientists to capture lots of observations to help answer specific questions about an area and build our understanding of local biodiversity and trends and patterns over time.
During my first Bioblitz with the Arboretum at UC Santa Cruz, we were put into teams and went out in groups with expert and amateur naturalists like myself. As our group walked, we pointed out plants and wildlife, snapping photos and sharing IDs if we knew them. I saw a weird ant with a fuzzy orange back that looked so soft that I wanted to touch it. Good thing I didn’t because it turned out it was a Velvet ant, which contrary to its name, is actually a wasp with a painful sting (luckily they are harmless unless provoked)!
I encourage you to take iNaturalist for a test spin at a local BioBlitz event or even during a walk around your block. Let us all celebrate, appreciate, and protect our amazing biodiversity!
- Make sure iNaturalist is downloaded and your device is fully charged.
- If you do not have a camera or a phone, you can always find a friend during a BioBlitz who has the right technology.
- If you do not have cell service or sufficient data, iNaturalist also allows you to make the observation and then wait till you get to wifi or home internet to upload and post.
How to make an observation on iNaturalist
Why use iNaturalist