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The three projects will support fire-affected communities to re-engage with nature and the science of recovery. Projects include: organising a series of BioBlitzes in fire affected areas throughout the spring and autumn of 2021-22, prioritising insect digitisation and transcription based on a list of priority insect species post fire, and developing a series of resources to enable active flora groups to monitor and record information post fire.

Our partners to deliver these projects include: The Centre for Ecosystem Science at UNSW; Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment at Western Sydney University; the Australian Citizen Science Association; Minderoo’s Fire and Flood Resilience initiative and the National Research Collections Australia.

BioBlitzes

A series of BioBlitz events are being coordinated in northern NSW, the Blue Mountains and NSW south coast to generate new evidence on the impacts of large-scale fire on biodiversity, and to support fire-affected communities to re-engage with nature and the science of recovery.

Waterbug Survey at Panboola Bioblitz (16-17 May 2014) ©  Atlas of Life

A ‘BioBlitz’ is a concerted effort to discover and record as many living things as possible within a set location over a limited time period – usually 24 to 36 hours.

This project is a partnership with the UNSW’s Centre for Ecosystem Science and will leverage the citizen science data collected to date from the Environment Recovery Project.

The aim of Bioblitz is:

  • to increase collaboration and knowledge sharing between the public and scientists
  • collect valuable data and information about species present on the day
  • compare and contrast burnt areas with un-burnt area
  • align the new information with existing environment recovery surveys.

The BioBlitz events will be evenly spread between burnt and unburnt areas using a paired design sampling approach along the fire boundary. These events would involve both scientists and the general public. More details (including how you can sign up to participate) will be posted as the dates and locations are set.

Priority insect digitisation

This project will help expand our understanding of invertebrates by digitising some of the invertebrate species found in the National Research Collections Australia facility.

Digitising insects from National Research Collections Australia.

The digitised information is being made available on the Atlas of Living Australia where it can be used by anyone with an interest, from taxonomists to conservation practitioners. It represents a permanent record of the occurrence of a species at a particular time and place.

Digitisation of invertebrates is being prioritised based on a list, provided by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, of invertebrate species of concern, post the 2019-2020 Australian bushfires.

We are capturing high resolution images of between 5000 and 6000 specimens and loading them onto the Atlas of Living Australia DigiVol platform. On the DigiVol platform, we will be asking for your help to transcribe the label data held with each specimen from the loaded images.

Citizen scientists have already transcribed one batch of images this year, which you can read about in our story, Support bushfire science from home.

Through transcribing the label data held with each specimen, you are making a significant contribution towards improving our understanding of historic insect distribution and abundance in Australia.

We will add more information here when the labels and images are ready for transcription.

Flora Connections

This project is working in partnership with Western Sydney University to develop resources to support experienced citizen scientists to document how Australia’s unique plants recover from fire.

Flora connections is working to make it easier for citizen scientists to document how plants regenerate after fire. ©  Peter Brenton, Atlas of Living Australia

It will draw on volunteer, active amateur botanists who have a strong connection to the plants in their local area. They will be asked to monitor how plants are recovering from fire and generate new data by documenting active threats to the recovering ecosystems.

Monitoring will involve photography of resprouting tissue such as epicormic shooting, basal resprouting, seedling growth, and flowering. Documenting will require standardised recording of population abundance and active threats present at survey sites.

This project will improve the connections among the large network of volunteer amateur botanists working across the country and the data collected will be available to scientists involved in national research initiatives in plant science. We’ll post more information and resources about this project as they are developed.

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