Nature lovers using smart phones to document Sierra Nevada biodiversity | SierraSun.com

Nature lovers using smart phones to document Sierra Nevada biodiversity

Janet Zipser Zipkin
Special to the Sun

During the BioBlitz, guides will lead you through shady forests and colorful mountain meadows in an effort to capture beautiful plant life.

TRUCKEE, Calif. — Nature enthusiasts are invited to join a team of like-minded volunteers and scientists in early July at Sagehen Creek Field Station for a BioBlitz.

This is a detailed study of biodiversity in a specific location over a specified period of time. You will have the opportunity to explore one of the natural jewels in the University of California Natural Reserve System while contributing to a data collection that is actively being used in global scientific research.

Your team of 5-10 participants will be paired with a California Naturalist who will guide you to shady forests, colorful mountain meadows, brushfields buzzing with insects, and cool creeks.

An additional expert in plants, insects or birds may also join you. Your job will be to use the iNaturalist app on your smart phone to take photos of every bird, mammal, reptile, butterfly, insect, spider, tree and flower that you see.

There is even an evening session if you have a passion for insects, moths and nightjars. And you won't want to miss the free barbecue for BioBlitz participants‹an opportunity to share your unique sightings and stories.

Although a working knowledge of biology is appreciated, don't worry if genus and species aren't typically in your vocabulary as there are experts who will review your photos on iNaturalist and properly identify them.

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Confirmed identifications become "research grade" and are available to all for scientific or recreational study on iNaturalist and worldwide databases such as Calflora and GBIF (Global Biodiversity Information Facility).

And, if you're not keen on smart phone photography or using the iNaturalist app, there is an optional practice session to build your skills and confidence

Local Naturalist Kaitlin Backlund, along with Sagehen Managers Faerthen Felix and Jeff Brown, is organizing this year's BioBlitz in celebration of the University of California Natural Reserve System's 50th Anniversary.

They express appreciation for the partner organizations providing outreach and expertise: Sierra Business Council, Sierra Water Education Partnership, Tahoe Institute for Natural Science, Trout Unlimited and Truckee River Watershed Council.

All participants in the UC Berkeley Sagehen Creek Field Station BioBlitz, regardless of age, must register at sagehenbioblitz.eventbrite.com. Space is limited and registration closes when activities are full or by Tuesday, July 7.

All ages and skill levels are welcome. Family friendly activities are indicated on registration site.

It takes place Saturday, July 11 and Sunday, July 12, at the Sagehen Creek Field, located about 8 miles north of Truckee, via Highway 89.

Most activities are two to four hours long, and you may register for any or all of them. There is no charge for participation in observation activities or Saturday evening BBQ.

Reservations and a fee is required to spend Saturday night at Sagehen Creek Field Station.

Visit sagehen.ucnrs.org to learn more.

Janet Zipser Zipkin is a Truckee resident and a member of the California Naturalist Program.