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By April Suen 18 January 2023 3 min read

Take a look out your window, what do you see? Maybe a magpie, some eucalypts or a wattle tree? Look a little closer and help us identify the overlooked animals through invertebrate citizen science projects[Link will open in a new window].

Often big things get recorded in species sightings, more than small things, through something called observation bias. This can lead to an overrepresentation of some groups of plants, animals and fungi than others.

This summer we’re challenging you to help us uncover more invertebrates (animals without a backbone) – a group typically underrepresented in species records.

Record your sightings of invertebrates in the Atlas of Living Australia and contribute to important research.

Supporting our invertebrates

More than 90 per cent of all living animals are invertebrates. However, many of these species are yet to be described, let alone understood, from a conservation perspective. Currently only 0.6 per cent of listed threatened species in Australia are invertebrates. It's likely there are more invertebrates requiring conservation interventions, but we just don’t have enough data about them!

What are we looking for?

Invertebrates exist in every ecosystem across Australia. Whether you're travelling over summer or staying at home, we'd love you to help us capture information about these lesser-known species.

We’ve compiled a list of some invertebrate groups you might encounter. You can also use the Atlas of Living Australia[Link will open in a new window] (ALA) Explore Your Area tool[Link will open in a new window] to find out more about species known to occur near you.

  1. Coleoptera[Link will open in a new window]: beetles like Christmas beetles. Make sure you check out the iNaturalist Christmas Beetle Count project[Link will open in a new window]
  2. Hymenoptera[Link will open in a new window]: bees and wasps
  3. Diptera[Link will open in a new window]: flies
  4. Orthoptera[Link will open in a new window]: grasshoppers and crickets
  5. Crustacea[Link will open in a new window]: crabs, barnacles and prawns
  6. Mollusca[Link will open in a new window]: octopuses, snails and oysters
  7. Porifera[Link will open in a new window]: sponges
  8. Arachnida[Link will open in a new window]: spiders and scorpions
  9. Lepidoptera[Link will open in a new window]: moths and butterflies
  10. Cnidaria[Link will open in a new window]: corals, anemones and jellyfish.

Join a citizen science project and you might just spot a Golden Stag Beetle (Lamprima aurata). Credit: Simon Grove

Citizen science to the rescue

Here is where you come in! Become a citizen scientist and submit species occurrence records of invertebrates to an ALA data partner[Link will open in a new window].

The more data we have, the better we can track, monitor and understand invertebrate species across Australia. Over time, these occurrence records help us understand how different groups respond to pressures like climate change. Ultimately, this knowledge allows researchers, government and policymakers to make better decisions for invertebrate conservation.

You can contribute to invertebrate research across Australia by following these simple steps:

  1. Find an invertebrate in your area
  2. Record the invertebrate's location and snap a clear photo (one species per photo)
  3. Upload your species record to an ALA data partner – don't know how? We have all the information to help you record a sighting.
  4. Contribute to the community. Many citizen science data platforms like iNaturalist[Link will open in a new window] use the community to identify and verify species records.
  5. Alternatively you can get involved in existing invertebrate citizen science projects such as Insect Investigators[Link will open in a new window], Mozzie Monitors[Link will open in a new window], Waterbug Blitz[Link will open in a new window], Waterwatch NSW[Link will open in a new window], B&B Highway[Link will open in a new window] and Northern Beaches Invertebrates[Link will open in a new window].

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