One of the features of our seasonal slow walks with Karen Retra and Sue Brunskill is comparing what we find with the official records of species in each park we visit, and adding our sightings. All this is easy using phone apps and citizen science tools – great fun, and a bit competitive we must admit! Can we tick off many of the existing records? Can we add something new? Now that is something to crow about!
Adding repeat and new sightings and new information to the species records has potentially profound impacts. Building on historical and other scientific records, refining seasonal information on what species are where, in what stage of life and when, and even what species are not there all help to paint the bigger picture of species and ecosystem health.
Digging deeper into the records we also find some telling tales about the recorders – particularly their favourite species. For example, since our last visit to Castle Creek Conservation Reserve, more than 400 records have been added to the Atlas of Living Australia (ALA) via various citizen science platforms. Birding is obviously popular, and bird records continue to outnumber the plants, fungi and other animals on ALA for this reserve. Given the season and the special interest of our walk leaders in frogs, contributions to iNaturalist and FrogID by walk participants (and hosts) as a result of these visits have also increased.
Adding your sightings provides for a collective effort in preserving our unique native ecosystems. We recommend giving it a try next time you are out walking! Find out how on the iNaturalist site.