The National Park Service and National Geographic Society have been celebrating our Centennial all year by organizing more than 100 BioBlitzes to discover and document the species living in our national parks. In addition to these BioBlitzes, the Natural Resource Stewardship and Science Directorate (NRSS) has been working with iNaturalist (OMB Control Number: 1024-0275) to keep track of biodiversity records in national park units for the entire year in a servicewide project. Four days ago, the project surpassed the 100,000 observations milestone just in time for the Centennial anniversary. Observations have been made at over 275 NPS units. Click here to see how many observations have been made in your park.
More than 5000 citizen scientists have made observations in iNaturalist this year from NPS lands. Collectively, they have recorded more than 10,000 species, including common and easily photographed organisms such as the Western Fence Lizard and American Robin as well as more than 500 threatened species (note: the locations of threatened species are automatically obscured on iNaturalist.)
Anyone visiting national park lands with a smartphone or digital camera can turn their photos of plants, animals, fungi, and other “critters” into useful data. Even if participants don’t know exactly which species they recorded, members of the global iNaturalist community work together to crowdsource identifications. Verified records from iNaturalist can be used to update NPSpecies, the official NPS database that documents our knowledge of the occurrence and status of species within each park.
There are still four months left in this Service-wide Centennial quest to document the biodiversity of our national parks. Parks can still register to host a BioBlitz in 2016 or just encourage visitors to come and explore the park with iNaturalist on their own. Visit the BioBlitz Resources site to learn more, check out videos, and see what opportunities BioBlitz and iNaturalist hold for your park. You can also explore observations using the filter tool (top right corner of observations page) and help verify species identifications. Make sure to share all of your BioBlitz highlights on social media with #BioBlitz2016, #NPS100, and #FindYourPark.
Thank you to everyone -- including park staff, regional staff, partners, and volunteers -- who contributed to planning a BioBlitz, getting the word out, and ensuring the safe and successful implementation of this grand endeavor. We hope each one of you had the privilege of seeing first-hand the impact these events can have on our visitors, our next generation of stewards, and increasing our scientific knowledge of the biodiversity of our parks.
Join the NPS Servicewide project once you’ve created an account with iNaturalist.
Getting started with iNaturalist