One of my favourite things is giving a kid a net and telling them to catch and insect with it. Generally they'll wack their brother a couple of times, fail to catch a butterfly despite their best efforts (butterflies are pretty speedy) and eventually find something super cool and exciting to catch, put under a microscope and observe. On Sunday, Mustard and I took part in a mini BioBlitz at Morialta Conservation Park, taking families and community members out into the park to find some insects and spiders. The day was organised by the Friends of Blackhill and Morialta Conservation Parks.
Whilst the intent of the day was partly to actually survey the insect fauna of the area, insect surveys are time-consuming - often needing weeks of trapping work and hours upon hours in the lab afterwards, bent over a microscope and an ancient key (this blog explains what a key is) trying to get an identification any further than family level. But doing an insect survey with the public is really fun, and we hope that by seeing how many different things we could collect in just a few minutes will inspire people to get out there and observe the life in their backyard or local park a little more often.
We had some amazing families come along and find insects with us - it was great to see so many kids excited about discovering something new in the park and trying to identify it. Thanks so much to those of you who came along - you were awesome and I hope you had fun! Here's the link to some of the things we found: http://www.bowerbird.org.au/projects/14785
We also hung out with Tahlia, who is running a citizen science project called EcidnaCSI. It's an awesome project where she's getting people to send in photos and sightings of echidnas from all over Australia (Mustard spotted one on the Morialta camera trap!) or you can even go searching for echidna scats (poo) and send them to Tahlia! She's sequencing the echidna DNA in the scats to learn more about these cute and spiky creatures. From their scats, Tahlia can tell if the population is healthy without having to actually find any of the animals, which are super good at hiding. Seen any echidnas near you? Check out the project and do some science!
PhD student and her trusty dinosaur explore the world of science. Check out our Citizen Science Project, The Caterpillar Conundrum!