August 22, 2019 | 76° F

Rutgers wildlife scavenger hunt collects images of 258 different species in 4 days

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Lena Struwe, a professor in the Department of Plant Biology, says Spring Personal Bioblitz helps anyone connected to the University build their knowledge of wildlife and biodiversity, while growing an appreciation for nature.  

The fifth installment of the “Spring Personal Bioblitz," an online collection of species from around the world documented by the Rutgers community, is four days into its observation dates.

Utilizing technology, Bioblitz — a program headed by Rutgers and the California Academy of Sciences — aims to focus public attention on nature and its many species.

Participants can upload their images to a website where others can also see and add to the conversation. Bioblitz wants everyone involved to see as many species as possible, wherever they are, according to the Bioblitz release on the Herbarium website.

“The Bioblitz is aimed at getting people to learn more about life around them, to collect species data for scientists and to promote conservation in an era of rampant habitat destruction,” according to Rutgers Today.

Anyone with a Rutgers connection — students, faculty, alumni, friends and family — can sign up. They then go to the iNaturalist website and create an account, which is where they can upload wildlife photographs and recordings, according to the release.

The release provides more information about what being involved in the project means. Statements like, “your observations might be used for research by anybody in the world, so your observations add to the total knowledge for these species,” and others regarding contributing to the project and community are listed out on the site.

“The Personal Bioblitz is a way to engage anybody who knows a lot or nothing about species to start looking at what exists around them in their everyday life,” said Lena Struwe, a professor in the Department of Plant Biology who is leading this program, according to Rutgers Today.

Since the start of the project, there have been 436 observations of 258 different species by 21 people, according to the iNaturalist website

Struwe said that last year’s record-breaking totals amassed to 20,823 observations of 4,874 species from 55 people, according to Rutgers Today. She said she hopes these numbers continue to increase and counter “species blindness” — when people lack knowledge of and are unaware of the species surrounding them.

People contributing to and discussing the species online allows for those unfamiliar with a species that they photographed or recorded to learn more, because iNaturalist users can help you identify species, she said to Rutgers Today.

“It all goes back to having that sense of community and sense of place and sense of the awesomeness of what’s around you,” Struwe said. “The truth is that biodiversity is everywhere and it’s not just in special places like nature preserves.”

Ryan Stiesi

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