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Spring 2016 Personal Bioblitz

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Observation dates are 1 March - 15 May, 2016.

Who can participate?

You can be part of the Spring 2016 Personal Bioblitz if you fit one or more of these categories:

  • Faculty at Rutgers University, NJ, USA
  • Staff at Rutgers
  • Graduate student at Rutgers
  • Undergraduate student at Rutgers
  • Rutgers Alumni
  • Rutgers Continuing Education student
  • Rutgers Extension
  • Rutgers 4H member
  • Retired faculty or staff from Rutgers
  • Family team: one parent and child(ren) associated with Rutgers
  • Relative of Rutgers employee or student (include Rutgers affiliate name on sign-up form)
  • Friend of Rutgers employee (include Rutgers affiliate name on sign-up form)

How to join?

Fill out the sign-up form and send it in to Lena Struwe ( or 237 Foran Hall, 59 Dudley Road, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, USA). Note, you need to get an iNaturalist account first, then send in the form, so that you can list the iNaturalist account name on the form and we can add you to the project.

General Rules

  • iNaturalist focuses on wild species that survive without human assistance, so we will follow this general rule.
  • You have to have seen or heard a species in person. If someone finds a species and shows it to you, then you can count it, as long as the species is not labeled with its species name and you really experience it.
  • We expect all participants to be helpful to all participants, both in person and online on the iNaturalist website, and be courteous and play nice, especially in the comment fields on iNaturalist.
  • Species observations start at 00:00 AM on March 1, and end at midnight (11:59 PM) on May 15, 2016.
  • All observation data from the Bioblitz have to be uploaded by the end of the day on May 25, 2016.
  • Observations follow the honor system; we trust you that you fill in the correct date and place and species (to the best of your knowledge), and all observation data is public.
  • Your observations can be at the species level, but also at higher levels (Plant, Bird, etc.)
  • Each species observation has to have a date and be added to a geographic map.
  • Photos, when possible, are optional, but strongly encouraged as documentation of what you saw (we know, birds and some other animals are fast and furious, no photos needed for such things).
  • Every counted observation at the end of the project has to have a taxonomic name (even if just a larger group name, like 'gilled fungus, Basidiomycetes' or 'snake, Serpentes'), has to have a date and place of location, and been seen and uploaded by you in person. If not, then these observations will be removed from the iNaturalist project.
  • Everybody in this project is a volunteer; we have no paid staff.
  • The leadership team has the right to remove any observations and any person from the project that does not follow the rules.


  • Which Rutgers graduate student will observe the most species?
  • Which Rutgers undergraduate student will observe the most species?
  • Who will have the most observations overall?
  • Who will observe the most different kinds of species? The most phyla?
  • Who will see the most species not seen by anybody else?
  • Will we all together see 4500 different species?

Which species and observations count?

YES, Count it!

  1. The observation or collection date is within the project dates.
  2. You saw or heard the species. Even better, have a photo of it.
  3. Outdoor species, unassisted* (ex. birds, insects, mosses)
  4. Indoor species, unassisted* (ex. cockroaches, mice, bread mold)
  5. Remnants of once alive species (ex. antlers, roadkill, shells, dried fruits) as long as unlabeled and you know its collection date and geographic origin [mark the type of remnant in your iNaturalist observation notes field].
  6. Microscopic species (including bacteria and archaea), as long as actual organism is wild-collected and observed (not just its effect), and it wasn't ordered or kept in a lab as labeled culture. We highly encourage the use of microscopes to find protozoa, planktons, fungi, parasites, etc.
  7. Species as part of research projects collected in the wild (as long as unidentified specimens and collected during the project time frame).
  8. Humans and feral populations of former pets, crops, and farm animals.
  9. Invasive, parasitic, and alien species (weeds, pests, etc.).
  10. Species effects that can be identified distinctly to a particular species or group of species are allowed, such as galls, tracks, leaf miners, chewing marks, egg cocoons, spider webs, and eggs (but see note below about diseases), but include photos of these.

NO, doesn't count!

  1. The species is already labeled (the idea here is DISCOVERY)
  2. Using human disease symptoms to identify a pathogenic species
  3. Pets, supermarket produce, spices (anything sold and traded with a label on it; exception: wild species that inadvertently show up with such items are OK, like parasites in oysters or spiders in local produce)
  4. Species maintained in greenhouses, museums, zoos, aquaria, gardens, etc.
  5. Anything that can only securely be ID'd with molecular/ DNA data (if you can visually identify it to a higher-ranking group [class, family, etc.], then list it under the higher-ranking group's name)
  6. No viruses (sorry)
  7. If you are uncertain if your species should be counted, please contact the Leadership Team, and they will make a decision on a case-by-case basis.

* Unassisted species are those that live without assistance from humans. Pets, houseplants, and planted crops are considered assisted if they rely on humans to survive. Feral cats and abandoned crop fields are unassisted since they no longer rely on humans


How do I report and save species observations? (iNaturalist manual) (1MB PDF)

  • Go to the iNaturalist website) and open a free account (if you don't have one) and familiarize yourself with their very user-friendly website.
  • Explore the 'get-started' webpage on iNaturalist.
  • If you want, download the Android or iOS app for your smartphone or tablet for easy observation reporting (links at the bottom of the iNaturalist webpage).
  • If you don't have a digital camera of some kind, we suggest you get one. You can upload photos to iNaturalist and you can get help identify species from your photos. Only observations with photos can reach Research Grade status on iNaturalist.
  • A sound recording device might be good if you want to learn bird songs and frog calls, etc., and sound files can be uploaded too.

How do I use iNaturalist for this project?

  • All observations have to be uploaded to the iNaturalist website, and added to the project called Personal Bioblitz Spring 2016.
  • Observations can be uploaded even if they are not identified to species at first (you can change all identifications and other data for all uploaded records later).
  • You can also keep a simple handwritten or computer-based list of observations, places and dates, and upload these observations to iNaturalist when you have the time. Instructions for upload and linking to photos are on the iNaturalist website.
  • All observations that are uploaded to iNaturalist are available to the public and visible to everybody on the iNaturalist website.
  • Observations follow the honor system, we trust you that you fill in the correct date and place and species (to the best of your knowledge) People may challenge and comment on your observations if they don't seem to have the correct date and place (to fix mistakes).
  • Your observations might be used for research by anybody in the world, so your observations add to the total knowledge for these species.
  • Your observations can be at the species level, but also at higher levels (Plants, Birds, Ciliate, etc.)
  • Each species observation has to have a date and geographic place (GPS location on a map). Locations can be open or obscured, but not hidden (contact the Leadership Team for advice on endangered species).
  • Photos, when possible, are optional, but strongly encouraged as documentation of what you saw (we know, birds and some other animals are fast and furious, no photos needed for such things). It is easy to upload digital photos to iNaturalist either from your computer, or from your tablet/smartphone, or from a Flickr account.
  • If you want help with an identification you have to have a photo and/or a sound recording of what you saw/heard.
  • If you want people to agree with your species identifications (and get a Community ID confirmation on your observations) you should also help out with by commenting on others ID (to the best of your knowledge, of course). Only agree with other species ID's if you think they are correct based on your knowledge of that group. Don't assume they are correct, and then just agree because you know them. Some participants will have knowledge in many taxonomic groups, others have very little, so we do not expect that everybody can help out equally with species identifications. But everybody can learn and share knowledge to the best of their ability.
  • Species identity is not needed at the time of upload to iNaturalist but you need have a good photo or sound recording of your species if you want help with its identification by the iNaturalist community (which includes people from all over the world, not just participants in this bioblitz).
  • Unidentified species without photos or sound, or without date, or without locality will be deleted from our iNaturalist project at the end of the project, since the observation is incomplete. Your observation will still be on iNaturalist, just not in the Bioblitz project. (Unidentified species that has this information will stay, since they might be identified later)
  • Feel free to add observations to your iNaturalist account before and after the Personal Bioblitz is going on (to start your life list!), but don't add them to the Personal Bioblitz project on iNaturalist.

How do I get help with identification?

  • First, to be able to get help you will need one of these things: the species in question (alive or dead), a photo of it, or a sound recording.
  • You can upload a photo or sound online and add it to the Please ID group on iNaturalist, to see if someone can help you identify it. You can also add it to the Personal Bioblitz project on iNaturalist, where participants might be able to help you.
  • Contact taxonomic expertise, anywhere where you can find it (Facebook groups, researchers, societies and organizations).
  • We will also post recommended websites and literature for species identification on the project website.

Who runs this project? Who do I contact?

The project is led by Dr. Lena Struwe and a Leadership Team consisting of students at School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, Rutgers University:

Leadership team

Taxonomic handlers

This project is run by Rutgers University in collaboration with iNaturalist (California Academy of Sciences).

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