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2021 Biodiversity Project/Species Census Report

1300 uploads, and nearly 600 species recorded over the summer!

Introduction

Three years ago, an Environmental Science student, Chantal Underdown, initiated a broad scale Bowen Island Biodiversity Census project on a citizen science online platform called iNaturalist. Though set up to capture as much of the island flora and fauna as possible, the project was also supporting her university research project on island amphibian species and habitats. This summer, in collaboration with Bowen Island Conservancy, a project within a project, the Bowen Island Species Census, was initiated. 

The objective

We set a goal to inspire citizen scientists to participate in nature observation, and to reinforce the position of the Conservancy as the authority on local species and conservation.

We invited the island community through Facebook, the Bowen Island Undercurrent, this website, and Instagram, to work together to collectively post 1,000 observations of wildlife and natural species from neighbourhoods around the island over the course of the summer. Various postings on social media also highlighted different local species, as a reminder of the project.

The outcome

At the outset we thought that it would be a big reach to obtain the engagement that we were looking for over the summer holidays. In spite of this, we set a goal of 1000 uploads to iNaturalist for the project.

We surpassed our goal by capturing 1,300 uploads to iNaturalist, and generating interest, discussion, and community engagement. Altogether, participants recorded data for our Census on 593 species.

The Project continues to capture data and will remain open for data collection over an extended period. This data is available to anbody for research purposes, or general interest.

The conclusions

The Project proved to be a very successful test of the potential for further fun outreach projects involving community engagement in citizen science nature observation. This specific project showed great potential for reaching a broad audience, that includes locals as well as tourists, and for the potential to hold a single day highly publicized “Bio Blitz” (a day of wildlife photography intended for uploading to  iNaturalist.)

The Project was initiated as a way to track sightings of amphibians and other species as an on-going local citizen science effort. Part of the Project includes a separate area of observation that captures observations exclusively on the Conservancy lands. This area was excluded from the summer Species Census in order to limit visitors to the local conservation areas. We therefore have different data sets for the entire island, for variable time frames, species, and specifically for Conservancy lands. This does not include data provided to the Conservancy by biologists, but does include findings from anyone who chose to provide photos from that location. 

About iNaturalist

iNaturalist Canada is a place where you can record and share what you see in nature, meet other nature watchers, and learn about Canada’s wildlife. It encourages the participation of a wide variety of nature enthusiasts and everyday people. Through connecting different perceptions and expertise of the natural world, iNaturalist Canada hopes to create extensive community awareness of local biodiversity and promote further exploration of local environments. Every piece of information on a species, combined with the vast network of citizen scientists, can give a big picture of Canada’s natural history and be key contributions for conservation decisions.iNaturalist Canada is part of a larger iNaturalist Network which is an international network that allows the transfer of species data and shared technology.

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