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Abstract Detail

Teaching Section

Struwe, Lena [1], Howe, Natalie [2], Irizarry, Ivelisse [3], Lorusso, Nicholas [2], Kruger, Ariel [2], Pollock, Nicholas [2], Loarie, Scott R. [4].

Personal BioBlitzing increases biodiversity awareness, excitement of science, and engages people at all educational and age levels.

Broad and detailed knowledge about species in everyday life has decreased among the public. Even faculty and graduate students in biology may be completely unaware of everyday biodiversity. To counter such 'species blindness' and learn about the biodiversity we see every day, we have arranged 2.5 month long ‘Personal BioBlitzes’ at Rutgers University where participants discovered, identified, and listed species they encountered in their everyday life during the spring semesters of 2014 and 2015. Students, staff, faculty, alumni, friends, and family members were invited to participate. In 2014, the result were 7270 observations from 30 participants and 7 countries, including 3474 unique taxa (mostly plants, birds, and invertebrates), 91% identified to species and 65% listed only by one person. The 2015 Bioblitz (ending May 15, 2015) had over 100 participants and a large increase in the number of observations. For ease of reporting, auto-generation of personal and project species lists, and to provide an online community of participants to help with species identification, we partnered in 2015 with iNaturalist (, a website (with associated smartphone apps) that is a forum for worldwide species discovery, observations, and identification for the public and scientists alike. Observations of organismal groups have not strongly corresponded to number of estimated species worldwide, but appeared to be related to perceived charisma, body size, and organism mobility. Bioblitz participants reported increased ability to 'see' species and to identify new groups, learning new tools of species identification and strongly increasing their biodiversity knowledge and eagerness to learn more. Participants arranged and went on joint field trips to learn from and teach each other about particular taxonomic groups or species habitats, and collaboration and sharing of knowledge was highly encouraged and very successful. In particular, a large number of undergraduates entered the Personal Bioblitz in 2015 to learn more about everyday biodiversity. The online iNaturalist forum has provided a new tool for species discovery and learning across generational and educational borders in the university community and beyond.

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Related Links:
Personal Bioblitz

1 - Rutgers University, Dept of Ecology, Evolution, & Natural Resources, 237 Foran Hall, 59 Dudley Road, New Brunswick, NJ, 08901, USA
2 - Rutgers University, Graduate Program in Ecology and Evolution, 14 College Farm Road, New Brunswick, NJ, 08901, USA
3 - Rutgers University, Graduate Program in Plant Biology, 59 Dudley Road, New Brunswick, NJ, 08901, USA
4 - California Academy of Sciences, iNaturalist, 55 Music Concourse Dr, San Francisco, CA, 94118, USA

science outreach
citizen science
digital tools
observation data
life on Earth.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Sections
Session: 34
Location: Salon 9/The Shaw Conference Centre
Date: Tuesday, July 28th, 2015
Time: 10:45 AM
Number: 34011
Abstract ID:656
Candidate for Awards:None

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