Enjoy this guest article by Mae Frank, undergrad student in Biology at Thompson Rivers University and maker of fun art projects!
Have you ever wandered the streets, meadows, or forests and spotted a woodland caribou? I bet you would remember if you did. You could brag to your friends and colleagues about how time stood still as you watched this creature of elegance and grace pass through your line of sight. Everyone would ‘oooh’ and ‘awe’ as you retold your tale. But what about if you saw a Blue-grey Taildropper or a Karner Blue Butterfly? Would you value your experience with these endangered bugs? Would you even know they are in decline? Don’t worry I wouldn’t either.
I thought about this a lot when I attended BC’s 1st ever Wildlife Society Conference in Kelowna. Many people talked about wolverines, moose, and fishers, but only one person I talked with mentioned butterflies and slugs. I used this art project to explore more of the invisible endangered species throughout Canada focusing on grubs, bugs, and plants.
Now, I know what your thinking. Even if I can identify these bugs and grubs and know that they are endangered, how can I let anyone know? I wondered this too, but I recently learned about a website that can do this. It is a simple platform that you can upload photos of birds and beetles and any other living thing to, and people can ID them. Once properly identified, scientists can use the date, location, and time of all these photos as data for research! Some extreme nerds even have notifications on for specific species sightings. All of this is simple and easy through http://www.iNaturalist.org!
iNaturalist is great for people who aren’t familiar with the differences between a lichen and a liverwort. Anyone can upload a photo of a bumbling bee they saw in their garden the other day. All they have to do is go onto the website or (an even easier way) use the app on their phone! Wow! Isn’t that easy! You can also explore all the photos that other people have taken in your area!
I strongly encourage any photographers, naturalists, or average Joes to use iNaturalist and help record what is in our backyards. Everyone can help discover rare populations of Mottled Duskywings and Snufflebox Mussels. So, next time you are wandering the streets, meadows, or forests of Kamloops and you see a small snail has crossed your path, snap a quick pic and upload it to iNaturalist. It may just be an endangered Oregon forestsnail!
Anyone who is interested, please follow this link to iNaturalist and post some pictures of this wonderful world we live in! The website even has image recognition software and will attempt to ID the subject of the photo for you!!
And special thanks to Mae for this great article!