Connecticut State BioBlitz

Defining something, giving it parameters, allows for replication. This is an important consideration in the BioBlitz concept.

Originally the BioBlitz concept was designated as to not be too specific to methodology. Indeed, the goal was to have fun, to naturalize, to commune with fellow nature enthusiasts, and to do science for the sake of pure exploration.

Simultaneously, and I feel this drive constantly, there is a desire by some organizers/scientists to make the data coming out of seemingly passive efforts to be more robust.

So, create a somewhat passive methodology that enables replication and high data resolution...there are many approaches.

From the standpoint of evolutionary ecology, the living world here on Planet Ocean is balanced by the two interacting behavioral forces of competition and collaboration. I really love this idea, of course, and I have now seen it played out at a bioblitz.

The Connecticut State BioBlitz 2016 functioned as a finely tuned relationship between these two forces. The goal was to break the all time BioBlitz record of 2519 species (actually taxa). We did it!

2769 taxa!!!

Going back to the parameters, a record breaker has to be defined. In this case, the BioBlitz was a 24 hr period consisting of a single GIS referenced polygon. This is not the only model out there, but it is probably the best model for competition replication.

I love the organisms, the science, the chaos, but by far my favorite thing about bioblitzing is community. In a way, it's like an exciting conference and science project all at once. This Blitz had about 200 scientists contribute their brains and senses to identifying taxa from literally all 'twigs' on the tree of life - from single-celled micro-organisms to the most complex, highly derived life forms. Lots of taxonomists.

Since starting our Biodiversity Schematics tour we have met many iNatters on the trail, new friends that enrich and inspire our desire for exploration and discovery.

Great naturalizing with all of you...
@invertzoo
@karolina
@kueda
@charlie
@berkshirenaturalist
@mickley
@benedictgagliardi

Lähettänyt reallifeecology reallifeecology, 7. kesäkuuta 2016 22:56

Kommentit

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Thanks, reallifeecology!

It was a great occasion. :)

Lähettänyt susanhewitt yli 4 vuotta sitten (Lippu)
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Thumbs up man!

Lähettänyt mickley yli 4 vuotta sitten (Lippu)
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Had a great time! I think our next task is getting more of the bioblitz on iNat. There were plenty of people keying and making lists who didn't seem to be adding stuff to iNat or even taking photo vouchers otherwise. Seemed kind of a waste. Not that I mean that as a complaint as all... but I don't get it.

Lähettänyt charlie yli 4 vuotta sitten (Lippu)
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With Bioblitzes in general, the emphasis has always primarily been on finding and ID-ing taxa. And honestly, 24 hours is so little time, that it is almost impossible. Both Jason and I commented that we barely had enough time to find and ID a decent number of mollusks, let alone documenting all the species for iNaturalist.

I don't know about everyone else, but we absolutely needed more team members for our taxon -- two people was not nearly enough. In the field we needed two plus a helper to search and photograph in situ, and also two people to stay back in the Great Hall to try to ID everything, using books and internet sites, and to record and photograph taxa under more studio-like conditions to add to iNaturalist. And to get locality data from people who were dropping off mollusks for us. And one of those stay-in individuals needed to have the responsibility of compiling a complete list of taxa as we went along.

Most of the scientists at this BioBlitz did not have iNaturalist accounts, and many of them were taking voucher specimens for a institutional collection rather than photographing things.

It's hard to get people to change the way they are used to doing things.

Lähettänyt susanhewitt yli 4 vuotta sitten (Lippu)
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i guess the shortness of the period to me means it's more important to have something like iNat, not less important. The main point is outreach and community right? Otherwise the pros can go get their vouchers on their own whenever is easiest and identify them in their own labs.

I mean, I recognize I am biased. I am just kinda tired of struggling with other scientists who are supposed to be driven by science and data but are too lazy or stubborn to learn something new.

ducks from thrown mollusk bits

Lähettänyt charlie yli 4 vuotta sitten (Lippu)
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I totally agree @charlie, though several people told me we'd convinced them iNat was fast and efficient enough to be worthwhile. @paul0lewis in particular, who is considering organizing more of these.

The time aspect was a big factor in people not using it, however, we lost one of our best botanists (Ken Metzler) for half a day while he was sorting through paper species lists to compile a master list.

It's very taxa dependent though I suppose. Some are easier to photograph, and the amount of time to key out varies tremendously.

Lähettänyt mickley yli 4 vuotta sitten (Lippu)
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yeah, for sure. I think it works for just about anything, but is a lot easier for some than others. For most plants except weird sedges and such it works well. For other things less so.

Lähettänyt charlie yli 4 vuotta sitten (Lippu)
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Actually, I'm loving it for sedges! I take photos of the nutlets with a scale, make sure I get male and female flowers if possible, and the basal leaf sheath and I've got most of what I need usually.

Lähettänyt mickley yli 4 vuotta sitten (Lippu)
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I'm on a mission to learn as many sedges as possible this summer, so I'll be doing some of that too. This my post in the database about adding the sedge sections to iNat... not sure if it will work or not.

Lähettänyt charlie yli 4 vuotta sitten (Lippu)
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I do think it is worth making the effort to try to convert more of the professional scientists to the idea of using iNaturalist. For a BioBlitz, inaturalist is an ideal way of making and keeping records.

Lähettänyt susanhewitt yli 4 vuotta sitten (Lippu)
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it was so great watching the inat data stream in and as for the non inatting people i didn't have a clue what they were finding and tbh still don't.

Lähettänyt charlie yli 4 vuotta sitten (Lippu)
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Yes it is true what you say @charlie. I still don't know if the flowering plant people found the yellow water lily, which I photographed at a distance, and perhaps they did not get some of the other water plants I found. It is even conceivable perhaps that the mammal or bird people did not record one of the species that Jason and I saw or heard. Same with the arthropods. And we have no way of checking that until all the results are up online somewhere, which could take weeks or months.

Lähettänyt susanhewitt yli 4 vuotta sitten (Lippu)
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i will be interested to see how the botany team's species list compares to mine with my mini blitz of that spruce bog area. I did not go into the bog b/c i didn't know we had permission but for the hemlock forest, i am interested to see how much more they found than I did. I am guessing they found at least a few things that I didn't even aside from the bog...

Lähettänyt charlie yli 4 vuotta sitten (Lippu)
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Hi guys, this is a really interesting discussion (and important to me as an organizer) - I had a bit of an email chat with @kueda and chatted a little with @reallifeecology after the blitz also. I think we all sort of agreed that it's all about the goals. Our primary goal for the CT BioBlitz was to break the 2001 record - whether that is a good goal to have or not is another question. It is hard to maximize on that goal and simultaneously maximize on others, like education and community building.

I would say iNat is a great tool for bioblitzes. There are a couple of problems with it, one being that if two species are recognized by a specialist as two separate entities but the specialist doesn't have a name for them, iNat won't count them as two different ones (e.g., if you had Navicula sp. 1 and Navicula sp. 2 you can only enter them into iNat as Navicula). This is an issue for some TWiGs, not so much for others. If your primary goal isn't just the highest possible number, then this becomes even less of an issue.

The bigger issue is, as some of you already pointed out, the unwillingness of many scientists to use iNat. Organizers simply can't force people who are already volunteering many hours of their busy lives to do that one more thing - to learn how to use the app and do all the logging. I think everyone would agree that having well-curated, databased entries with GPS info and photos is obviously preferable to paper lists floating somewhere and never getting used in the long run. Even if it doesn't really take more time than handling and consolidating paper records. yes, it is funny that scientists don't want to learn a new thing... but that's just the way it is. I think the answer is having a small team or at least one iNat volunteer with every TWiG, logging all their observations as the team collects and identifies.

anyway, it was great bioblitzing with y'all, thanks for coming!

Lähettänyt karolina yli 4 vuotta sitten (Lippu)
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Good points Karolina.

And of course sincere thanks to you for the enormous amount of work you put into making the whole thing happen. :)

Lähettänyt susanhewitt yli 4 vuotta sitten (Lippu)
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Lähettänyt susanhewitt yli 4 vuotta sitten (Lippu)
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@invertzoo @charlie

I think when things cool down, we'll get comprehensive species lists up on the website. Probably sooner rather than later (@karolina?). I don't think it will be months.

For the plants at least, a lot has probably changed post-curation on iNat, and I'm going to try to update that list.

We talked about having iNat shadowers for all the TWIGs, but it was difficult just to get enough good iNat people (I think I sent ~80 people messages). I was hoping to train a bunch of undergrads and bring them for that purpose, but then I got sick too.

@kueda: Might there be a way to make it more obvious to people when they get a message on iNat? I think it's rather unobtrusive and a lot of people don't notice or take very long to respond. I rather like unobtrusive for myself, but it also makes it difficult to contact people.

Lähettänyt mickley yli 4 vuotta sitten (Lippu)
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It was totally great hanging out with all of you, and meeting some of you in person for the first time. I love seeing different people's approaches to the same general practice, e.g. the @charlie / @mickley approach of grinding through every single plant with the iPhone app vs @reallifeecology's ten-cans-of-mate-and-a-million-bugs-in-vials approach to mass documentation of insects.

James, regarding message notifications, you get a giant red thing in the header and an email, which I think is pretty standard for most social networks. If you have ideas for stronger notifications, send 'em on over to the Google Group or help@inaturalist.org.

Lähettänyt kueda yli 4 vuotta sitten (Lippu)
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@mickley I have the plant list now and a few others; I'm just waiting for the entomologists to get their act together! to be fair, they have about 1300 species between the different insect TWiGs combined...
if you want Ken Metzler's list, I can send it along right now.
getting data from previous bioblitzes might be futile though, with the one exception of 2001.

Lähettänyt karolina yli 4 vuotta sitten (Lippu)
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Yeah, I think one option for the reluctant scientists is siply to have some people who are willing or able to use the app to shadow them. you only need one per species, so even with something like this with 2000+ species it's not THAT big of a task. But if there aren't eough people there aren't enough people. If there are photos with GPS and ID I could get around to adding them, 'some day'... But with a new job and a new baby and a busy field season coming, it may be next winter. Just a thought.

C

Lähettänyt charlie yli 4 vuotta sitten (Lippu)
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Wow, it's great to see so much thought go into this discussion from so many of us who know the system and all participated at the same place and time.

So, I like to think that I 'study' the bioblitz concept...obsessively. I like to go naturalizing solo, but not nearly as much as I like sailing the winds(minds(almost the same word,lol)) of the naturalist community. Likely, many of us in this thread agree. Many others don't. Phenotypic or otherwise, the naturalist affliction seems to originate from deep within our basal psychology and evolution. Not having a family in the traditional sense - parents, grandparents, aunts, etc. - I recognize the naturalist community as my community, my family. For me, the bioblitz is like Thanksgiving Dinner. Sorry if that sounds weird, but, well, not really. You people are incredible

The point I am trying to make above is that, like the living world around us, we humans are immensely diverse. How do we do this? Why do we do this? What is the point? Are we making in a difference in conservation? Are we orienting future naturalists? How can we do it better? What is better, really? Is this a dream - just kidding.

The solutions are complicated and convoluted; they are our own, and we learn from each other's perspectives along the way (hopefully).

Side Note: I once organized a BioBlitz for a land trust in TN who called the event a BioSaunter. Blitz = fast like lightning. Saunter = a leisurely stroll. I thought that was funny considering that opposing words still resulted in a gathering of community naturalists doing citizen science for fun.

Here is the way that I define a 'community' BioBlitz:

A biodiversity-exploration event with a designated space and time frame that attempts to elevate at least one of the three variables - Science. Community, and Education. These variable are distinct as to the extent that they are independent and even antagonistic to each other. In other words, if you want to maximize any specific variable, eliminate the other 2.

Obviously, and I now feel ridiculous about this, I left a variable out...Score.

Honestly, I hate to blame physiology for anything. I actually passed out mid photo-stream. I arrived from DC at 5:30 am the day of the event, got a couple hours of rest, then blitzed it up. I am so glad that I came to the event, but I feel like I let myself down. I had intended on just focussing on photographing everyone else's specimens. Instead, I fell into my standard due to exhaustion and therefore inability to innovate.

Now I know! Next time, @karolina , @mickley , I would like to be part of a planning team for the iNat contributions. I have some ideas and have tested many strategies.

Lähettänyt reallifeecology yli 4 vuotta sitten (Lippu)
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Just to follow up, have the full checklists been posted somewhere, @karolina and @mickley?

Lähettänyt kueda yli 4 vuotta sitten (Lippu)
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I have the same question.

Lähettänyt susanhewitt yli 4 vuotta sitten (Lippu)
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Yeah, great questions. I have several lists but am missing a bunch (despite nagging, a few TWiGs didn't deliver). I should be speaking with Dave Wagner soonish and discuss what to do. Do you guys think I should get those data into iNat? Maybe @mickley could help me with that :)

Lähettänyt karolina yli 4 vuotta sitten (Lippu)
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I'd be happy with just some spreadsheets posted somewhere.

Lähettänyt kueda yli 4 vuotta sitten (Lippu)
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I would love to see what others found in that black spruce bog area. I am interested in the idea of rapid assessments of wetlands and it would be interesting to compare a concerted study by several people with my brief walk through. Though the results will be very biased because I didn't know we had permission to go in there :)

Lähettänyt charlie yli 4 vuotta sitten (Lippu)
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Yes, I would be interested in the lists too, but you already know that @karolina. Maybe I can hunt down Dave in the next few weeks.

Lähettänyt mickley yli 4 vuotta sitten (Lippu)
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@mickley I'll send you what I've got via email; tell me what you think and how you think it should be formatted for best usefulness

Lähettänyt karolina yli 4 vuotta sitten (Lippu)

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