In order to collect species records you need to be able to identify the species you find. For many taxonomic groups this is easier said than done but there is help at hand. Identification can be done using a combination of apps, such iNaturalist, knowledge from local naturalists and field experts, and ID guides/keys.
iNaturalist can help to identify a species, using its algorithm and network of species identifiers. It is also a great way to record your BioBlitz data and make it available for others to see.
iNaturalist observations are independently identified and verified by an online community of scientist and volunteers. Once it is verified, your BioBlitz data can contribute directly to science.
When you create a BioBlitz event on iNaturalist, all records made within the time and space of your event will automatically be added to the list of species seen during your BioBlitz, which can be shared with participants.
Be aware that some groups, such as worms, are unable to be identified to a “research grade” based on photos alone. In these instances, it is vital to use identification keys and/or the knowledge of local naturalists. If you’ve used a guide to determine the species that you’ve found, you can add notes about it in iNaturalist to help verify your record.
Local naturalists will often be delighted to take part in your BioBlitz identifying specimens and/or leading walks and activities. (Be aware that different naturalists will have different comfort zones so don’t pressure people into leading public activities if they aren’t confident doing so.) The greater the diversity of expertise you have at your event, the more species you’ll be able to identify and record.
To find naturalists, contact your local naturalists club or society (they are most often found online), your your local Wildlife Trust the science department of any local Universities. Many naturalists have a lot of requests to get involved in BioBlitz events so get in there early and don’t be offended if they can’t make your event.
Keys and guides
Books, identification guides and keys:
Identification guides are vital when identifying an organism down to species level.
The Field Studies Council have published many in-depth guides of many species of the UK. You can buy their publications from their website, or look to borrow them from a local library.
Remember that you could ask people attending your BioBlitz to bring any relevant field guides that they may have at home – they might prove very useful.
Compact field guides are really useful on the day but be aware that field guides don’t always show every species in a group, especially with invertebrates. It’s best to confirm your IDs with a naturalist or a detailed key – don’t just go with the picture that looks closest!
Identification keys can help identify what species you have found. They are particularly important for groups that cannot easily be identified though apps such as iNaturalist, or iSpot.
There are a plethora of online keys. Click here to find a list of our favourite resources of keys that are freely available online.
There are many forums and pages online aimed at helping to identify the species that you have found. Many of these are run by a mix of local enthusiasts and professionals who are only too happy to share their knowledge or point you in the right direction to help make an a correct identification.
Some of these groups include: