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The Great Southern BioBlitz 2021

Great Southern BioBlitz logo

More than ever, we are appreciating the benefits of getting outdoors, so we are inviting you to join us in the Great Southern BioBlitz 2021 (GSB) across four days running from Friday 22 October to Monday 25 October.

Come delve into, explore and learn about the rich biodiversity that Maroondah is home to.

The Great Southern BioBlitz is part of a global movement to recognize and practice citizen science all whilst enjoying natural areas. As part of the BioBlitz people are asked to head out into their local areas to capture the range of biodiversity in Spring.

To get started download iNaturalist and get familiar with making observations (photos and sounds) of local biodiversity and share them with the iNaturalist community. Then make as many observations of nature as you can in Maroondah over the four days of the Great Southern BioBlitz.

Your involvement increases the quality and the amount of data available to local environmentalists, scientists and natural resource managers. The more that is documented through photographs and recordings helps to provide an idea of what occurs in our local area in terms of flora and fauna, which increases our ability to protect it.

How the BioBlitz works 

The iNaturalist platform will compile statistics on:

  • the numbers of species observed
  • the number of observations
  • the number of observers

The statistics compiled from the BioBlitz are compared across the participating project areas from across the southern hemisphere, and you can contribute by getting involved by making observations and spreading the word!

To get involved and see how Maroondah is tracking visit the Great Southern BioBlitz 2021- Maroondah.

To keep track of how the Maroondah community is going against the other participating areas, visit the Great Southern BioBlitz iNaturalist project.

Not only can you photograph a variety of species around Maroondah, but you can also record sounds to upload on iNaturalist. That beautiful bird call you hear every morning at 7am, can be recorded and identified on iNaturalist. It’s not just the living plants or animals that you can record, feathers and skulls that are identifiable can be photographed and recorded. There are so many opportunities to observe nature around Maroondah! You can get started by downloading the iNaturalist app on your apple or android device!

With your help we can continue to build a record of the stunning biodiversity found in Maroondah and make a great contribution to the scientific and wider community with the information collected. Find out more about the Great Southern BioBlitz.

To get involved, download the free iNaturalist app (from Google Play or App Store) on to your smartphone and create your profile.

Then head out to your local creek, reserve, or even your own backyard and keep an eye out for wild plants and animals. Using the app, you can record an image or two of each different plant or animal you can find (your phone’s GPS will record the date and location), identify them to the level you are confident with, then share your observations on the iNaturalist online platform.

Alternatively, once back home on your computer, you can log into the iNaturalist website and record the locations (by dropping a pin on a map) and upload your photos of the observations. The main benefit of this method is that you can be more selective with the photos you upload.

Then make as many observations of nature as you can in Maroondah over the four days of the Great Southern BioBlitz from Friday 22 to Monday 25 October.

To help with learning how to use the iNaturalist app and website, here are some online options that cover different levels of interaction with the platform.

The Great Southern BioBlitz organisers have presented two online webinars hosted by Thomas Mesaglio (thebeachcomber), a curator and forum moderator on iNaturalist, and the leading identifier in Australia.

Guides for using iNaturalist

Other resources

A detailed presentation on how to use of the iNaturalist platform by ecologist Dr Luis Mata delivered earlier this year for the 2021 City Nature Challenge.

Identifying your observations

iNaturalist is very user friendly and allows you to build your identification skills as you go! When you upload your observations, you are encouraged to make an identification to the level of your knowledge. This could be the specific species name or just the type of animal. Once uploaded, iNaturalist users from everywhere can see them, and provide their own knowledge to further refine, or confirm the identifications. So, you may only know what you have observed as a ‘moth’ or ‘plant’, but once uploaded it is very likely someone from the iNaturalist community will be able to tell you the full species name of what you saw.

Any observations you log within the Maroondah municipality during the four days of the BioBlitz, will be a contribution to the Great Southern BioBlitz 2021 -Maroondah project on iNaturalist and can be compared against other participating councils, cities and regions across the Southern hemisphere. You can track how we are going by visiting the Great Southern BioBlitz 2021- Maroondah page on iNaturalist, and you can join the project to see how you are faring against other observers in Maroondah.

But you don’t need to wait until the BioBlitz - you can start right now! You can log nature observations in iNaturalist anywhere, anytime. If they happen to be in Maroondah, they will contribute to Nature in Maroondah project.

In response to Victoria’s Roadmap, the planned nature discovery activities will not go ahead in October. You can still make nature discoveries by to getting outdoors in your local area and making observations of biodiversity, which includes photographing and recording sounds to log on iNaturalist. The materials provided under “Learning how to use iNaturalist” might be useful to enhancing your knowledge of citizen science and iNaturalist skills.

In the meantime, you can prepare for the BioBlitz by getting outside your backyard, local reserve or natural area and start logging observations on iNaturalist in preparation for Octobers BioBlitz. With your new skills you’re ready to log as many observations as possible over the four days of the BioBlitz (22-25 October).

Advice has been provided from ecologists, entomologists, biodiversity conservationists & friends groups representatives from Maroondah and wider Victoria, including Graeme Lorimer, Luis Mata, John Cull & Ken McInnes.

Getting started with observations, take it slow & you’ll see just how much biodiversity is present

  • Find a plant in flower and look closely at the flowers for 5-10min – you’re bound to find many insect pollinators and other flower-visiting insects that are not quite apparent at first sight or that land on the flowers as you’re watching.
  • Carefully move small logs and rocks on the ground to see what you may find underneath – remember to put them back to their original position.
  • Carefully look under bits of loose bark from the base of gum trees to expose all kinds of insect, spider, and other invertebrate species – remember to leave any removed pieces of bark (facing down) at the base of the tree.
  • In general, include as many different perspectives and details as possible in your observation photos, and always include a photo of the whole specimen. 
  • Invertebrates, particularly insects and spiders, represent most species we can observe around us. Look for them in soil and leaf litter particularly in places where they are protected under or behind something, e.g., in a compost bin or on the ground under a brick or wood.
  • On warm days look closely at leaf litter and observe the critters moving around.
  • Most plant species are below knee-high, so you must look low and hard to develop an affinity with our flora. You can keep listening for birds and frogs at the same time.

Common mistakes when making observations

  • To be of value, the species should be naturally wild and not 'planted', 'captured' or 'placed'.
  • To be of scientific value, the records of the species should be identifiable and locatable by others, so the identification and location should be able to be confirmed - meaning that the photographic image or sound recording should be up close, clear and sharp. 
  • A photo of a bird should be close enough to distinguish the shape of the beak, eye colour, distinguishing feather pattern etc.
  • A photo of a grass, not in flower or seed, is very difficult to identify. (Often difficult to identify even in real life by an expert). Try to include close ups of the flower, seed head, and individual seeds
  • For your observations to be useful to others (and particularly scientists), don’t create confusion by recording planted plants, domesticated animals or multiple species in one observation.

Increasing observation quality and likelihood of observing species

  • For Fungi take a photo of both the top of the fungi and underneath the cap. This can be done by photographing underneath or placing a mirror to reflect the gills and photograph that way.
  • Observe birds in the early morning or evening when they are more active. 
  • Observe lizards and snakes when it is warm and the come out to warm themselves.
  • Observe nocturnal creatures at dusk and dawn. You can set up a simple ‘moth sheet’ to attract and observe nocturnal invertebrates, especially moths
  • Note behaviours to support, confirm your observations, e.g., confirmed by distinctive calls, flight, habitat etc.
  • For ferns, include the top, underside of the leaf and the fronds.
  • For plants, include as many different parts as you can including seeds, leaves, flowers and overall form. 
  • When recording some plants such as eucalypts it’s important to photograph key parts to help with identification: buds, fruits, flowers, leaves, and bark. You may even like to note the scent. Getting to know your area and the biodiversity that call it home
  •  During Springtime there is plenty of bird activity, there are many breeding, nesting building and feeding new young in nests.  It’s always good to look up and around to observe species who may be presenting this behavior.
  • If you look up in the trees you may see a Powerful Owl along Dandenong Creek, they help manage possum populations.
  • Migratory birds like Latham’s Snipe will return from Japan in our warmer months and can be found along the Dandenong Creek corridor but are such an elusive bird that sightings are rare.
  • Stop and have a look at hollows in trees, they often will house a variety of species and are great spots to take photos for observations!
  • Many waterbodies that attract water birds make the best sites for taking photos. These are often the spots where many species depend on for food and shelter and interact with other animals. 

The results of the Great Southern BioBlitz 2021 have been recorded:

Southern Hemisphere results:

  • Observations: 183, 125
  • Species: 20,987
  • Identifiers: 3,192
  • Observers: 5,763

Maroondah finished with:

  • Total observations: 668
  • Total species: 326
  • Total participants :31
  • 6th place in the Greater Melbourne Council area

Top 5 most observed species in Maroondah:

  • Chocolate Lily (Arthropodium strictum)
  • Hop Goodenia (Goodenia ovata)
  • Showy Daisy-Bush (Olearia lirata)
  • Milkmaids (Burchardia umbellata)
  • Australian Wood Duck (Chenonetta jubata)

To get involved, download the free iNaturalist app (from Google Play or App Store) on to your smartphone and create your profile.

Then head out to your local creek, reserve, or even your own backyard and keep an eye out for wild plants and animals. Using the app, you can record an image or two of each different plant or animal you can find (your phone’s GPS will record the date and location), identify them to the level you are confident with, then share your observations on the iNaturalist online platform.

Alternatively, once back home on your computer, you can log into the iNaturalist website and record the locations (by dropping a pin on a map) and upload your photos of the observations. The main benefit of this method is that you can be more selective with the photos you upload.

Observations around Maroondah throughout the year will contribute to the ‘Nature in Maroondah’ project.

Earlier this year, Council competed in the 2021 City Nature Challenge, partnering with seven neighbouring Councils (Boroondara, Greater Dandenong, Knox, Manningham, Monash, Stonnington and Whitehorse); the Field Naturalists Club of Victoria and the Entomological Society of Victoria. This was our first foray into the world of citizen science, and the results were amazing! You can read more about the results on the City Nature Challenge page.

Interested in hearing about future activities? 

If you wish to keep informed for this event and similar citizen science activities that we may run in the future, please register your interest.   

Register your interest.

06/09/2021
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