Citizen Science and Bioblitz: what are they?

Over 60,000 species of wildlife can be found across the UK. 60% of those are declining. Help conserve these wonderful creatures through our Bioblitz event!

British wildlife is in danger. The State of Nature report, compiled by over 25 wildlife organisations in 2013, concluded a shocking 60% of all British species are actively declining. That’s a huge figure.

The task to halt and reverse this decline is enormous. First and foremost, the initial work needed is checking where animals, plants and fungi make their homes and how many of each type are left.

Without this work, we could lose many species from vast swathes of our countryside. Not only would we then not be able to enjoy them, but their role within the ecosystem is lost, putting the whole system at risk of collapse.

But with millions of creatures to discover, scientists and conservations cannot hope to keep an eye on them all by themselves, there are just too many. They need help from the public taking part in something that has come to be called Citizen Science.

What is citizen science?

Citizen Science is when members of the public volunteer to take part in the scientific process of conserving wildlife. 

(Photo: WTML / L. Carney)

This could be collecting data on wildlife, analysing this data or devising a research question which gets used to conserve local nature.

We all love getting into British woodland. Those moments when you see an iridescent butterfly or an auburn dash of a fox running through the foliage are magical to all ages. But all these sightings could prove critical in conserving wildlife in the future. By submitting your wildlife records to your local record centre you can help determine what animals and plants are found locally and whether they are common or rare.

These records can be used for decades to help map changes in our local wildlife and see which species need our help the most.

But if you’ve never taken part in citizen science before, it can be a daunting prospect to begin with. And that’s where our Bioblitz comes in.

What is a Bioblitz?

A Bioblitz is a 24-hour period of intense biological recording on one site. The idea is to build up as complete a snapshot of the local flora and fauna as possible.

Every species is counted, from beetles and moths to mammals and trees. A great example of one such event is the Smithills Bioblitz.

(Photo: WTML / R. Hedley)

Based on the outskirts of Bolton, the Smithills Estate is a whopping 1,700 acres, our largest site in England. The sheer size of it means it would be an impossible task for staff to survey the whole area for wildlife.

But during the bioblitz, we are inviting the public to join us and become wildlife explorers for the day. By coming along and searching for anything from birds to flowers, you can be the eyes and the ears that can help build up that bigger picture of what lives on site.

Who can take part?

Anybody can take part in a Bioblitz. At the Smithills Bioblitz we’ll be working with the Greater Manchester Local Record Centre, who are responsible for taking wildlife records from across Greater Manchester.

They are bringing along a wide range of wildlife. Found a spider in Barrow Bridge? Bring it to our arachnologist . Heard an interesting bird call? Join our ornithologist on a guided walk.

There are various activities to help even the youngest take part, with pond dipping, meadow sweeping and stream kicking providing excellent hands-on experiences that will help document the wildlife of these hidden worlds.

When is the next Bioblitz?

Our next Bioblitz is the Smithills bioblitz on Saturday 26 May, 2018. The day runs from 11 - 4 with our registration kiosk at Barrow Bridge car park (BL1 7NH). You can come at any time and stay as long as you like.

(Photo: WTML / R. Hedley)

There will be wildlife activities, foraging walks, photography workshops, market-place stalls and refreshments are available to purchase.

There are also some bookable workshops that take place on the night of May 26th and early morning on the 27th. These are designed to search for the nocturnal creatures of Smithills – the owls, amphibians, bats and moths.

These events have limited spaces, so if you are interested please see our Bioblitz event page and book your space today.

Together we can help protect our natural heritage for generations to come. Ensuring we maintain a rich and biodiverse landscape is key to our own happiness, fitness and even our own survival.

Find a Bioblitz near you, keep an eye on our events website or check out the Bristol Natural History Consortium page that lists a number of bioblitz events from across the UK.