Have you ever wondered how a community can contribute to local or even global science? Have you ever wondered what species that small yellow butterfly that visits your garden is? Well, this is all at your fingertips with the aid of iNaturalist, an application that connects interested naturalists of all levels of expertise! This summer, join the University of Nevada, Reno, Truckee Meadows Parks Foundation, Nevada Bugs and Butterflies for a Summer Nature Blitz!
Here’s how the program works!
The challenge is to record as much biodiversity as possible in Nevada during your outdoor adventures this summer. How? Simply download the iNaturalist app to your phone or visit the iNaturalist website on a computer, join the project (Summer Nevada Nature Blitz) and start snapping photos! The application not only allows you to report known sightings but to have experts help with the tough ones.
Why? Well, your contributions could be used in the future to better understand our natural world. For example, one University graduate student is trying to understand the intricate connections between the declining western monarch butterfly and the different milkweed species it relies on here in Nevada. In order to do so, she had to locate dozens of local milkweed populations across the state. How do you even start such a task!? Well, she used community science data provided through iNaturalist, of course! And she is not the only one. Matt Forister, a distinguished University biology professor, recently published a major study featuring the declines of butterfly species across the west with the aid of similar data. Community data can help us understand large changes to populations of organisms that make Nevada their home. This may mean identifying species that are in trouble so that scientists can enact conservation action or locate invasive species to be targeted for extirpation. Regardless as you report diversity, you’ll get to learn more about the incredible plants and animals that live all around you!
So, when you are out this summer taking a walk in a local park or hiking in the Sierra Nevada take some time to photograph the flora and fauna! Upload them to iNaturalist and tag them in our Summer Nature Blitz! Experts from the University and our partner organizations will help with the identification of the tricky species. This adventure will not only help us all learn something new but will contribute to the better understanding of our Nevada home.