July 17-19 saw the eleventh year of the Wyoming BioBlitz. This is a community science event that focuses on getting families outside, said Jacelyn Downey, Audubon Rockies education programs manager.
Wyoming BioBlitz 2020 is organized by Audubon Rockies, UW Biodiversity Institute, The Nature Conservancy in Wyoming, Sheridan Community Land Trust, Science Kids, Teton Science Schools, Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Wyoming Natural Diversity Database, and Wyoming State Parks, according to their website.
“Usually we pick one location to highlight for families to find out what’s there,” Downey said. “We want to show them the diversity of wildlife in Wyoming.” However, with COVID-19, the event had to go online. They used a program called iNaturalist in order to track findings. Families, or whoever wanted to participant, could download the app and upload pictures of wildlife and plants wherever they were, Downey said.
“I was initially hesitant to use [iNaturalist], but I am definitely a fan now,” Downey said.
According to Downey, the region with Sweetwater, Uinta and Lincoln counties had 15 individuals or groups of people who observed 200 organisms. There were 106 different species identified in the entries. The top five species seen were Umbrella Paper Wasps, Plumeless Thistles, Wyoming Indian Paintbrush, Ferruginous Hawks and American Robins. There was even a mountain lion track, according to data on iNaturalist.
Overall, 194 individuals or groups observed 5,253 organisms with 1,324 different species identified so far, Downey said.
“There could be a rare species or even one we haven’t seen before.” Downey said. Scientists will be cataloging species for the next few weeks to identify the remaining organisms, according to Downey.
These pictures and categorizations will help researchers who want to study certain species, Downey said. They can use this data to figure out places they should be in order to find the species they need, Downey said.
According to Downey, this research can also be used by land managers and state parks, as well as evidence for a grant proposal by researchers and other groups.
The Wyoming BioBlitz will take place July 23-25 in 2021.