Become a citizen scientist for Mornington Peninsula

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iNaturalist (inaturalist.org) is a global social network of naturalists aimed at recording and sharing biodiversity observations.

It is arguably the most popular biodiversity community science platform in the world with around 63 million observations contributed by over 1.5 million users!

Australia is the top contributing nation in the southern hemisphere and among the top four contributing nations globally.

We’re calling on residents to be citizen scientists and help us discover the Peninsula’s amazing biodiversity and local habitats by using iNaturalist.

iNaturalist is a free, easy to use app for Mornington Peninsula locals to share their photos of native flora and fauna in their backyard.

Once the app is downloaded and set up, simply join the ‘Mornington Peninsula Biodiversity’ group to get started.

By contributing biodiversity observations to iNaturalist, we can help researchers across the globe track changes in biodiversity, while increasing general biodiversity knowledge in the places we interact with nature.

This is a great way for the community to not only explore and celebrate local biodiversity, but also provides the community with a unique way to have fun outside.

The Shire is hosting an online training session to help you learn how to use iNaturalist on Monday 24 May from 6.30pm – 7.30pm via Zoom.

The session will be joined by ecologist Dr Luis Mata who will introduce the platform and answer any questions about how to improve our community scientist skills.

Dr Mata is an ecologist with a keen interest in insects, urban environments, community science and science communication.

Dr Mata enjoys discovering and learning from nature through photography. He is convinced capturing aesthetically pleasing images of living beings is one of the best ways to bring art and science together.

Click here to register your attendance to the online training session.

A citizen scientist story from Graeme Rigg – Friends Group member and iNaturalist user

Unthanks Reserve in Somerville was originally part of a farm with a dam. Over time the land surrounding the reserve has been developed for residential estate.

There is a small section listed as ‘grassy woodland’ where I have been paying a bit of attention to of late, noticing this area contained Tiger Orchid (Diuris sulphurea) and Button Everlasting (Coronidium scorpioides).

On Tuesday 21 October 2021, I was on my afternoon walk and decided to walk through Unthanks Reserve and the grassy woodland section to see if there were any other interesting things to notice. I always have a small camera with me just in case I come across something!

The afternoon was sunny and something shiny blue caught my eye. Not knowing exactly what it was I made an identification, Castiarina bifasciata, then put it on iNaturalist for assistance.

Within a short time, identification for another species Astraeus navarchis

came in from multiple people both in Australia and overseas – several advising that the Beetle was rare.

Looking up on iNaturalist there were two records in Australia, one from 2015 and the other being mine, and eight records listed on the Atlas of Living Australia.

Pretty happy to find something rare and it was only due to slowly walking around with my head down. The miniature world is an amazing place if time is taken to look.

Pictured: Graeme’s photo of a Jewel Beetle

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