Local naturalists are turning to their smartphones to track and document the diversity of plants and animals along the Route 1 corridor.
Using the popular iNaturalist app on iPhones and Android, area bird watchers, riverkeepers and amateur arborists are doing so-called “citizen science” to share information about the species that they observe.
You don’t have to know a lot of species to use the app, which gives suggestions through an image recognition software and allows you to receive crowdsourced identifications from other users.
This weekend, the Anacostia Watershed Society is holding its second annual Anacostia River BioBlitz using the app to add to a dataset about biodiversity along the river. Already 1,600 observers have collected more than 31,000 observations of individual species for the data set.
During the first bioblitz last year alone, more than 100 volunteers were able to identify 528 species. This year’s free event will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. today, September 8, at the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens at 1550 Anacostia Ave. NE, just across the border in D.C., though anyone can submit species they discover through Sunday using the app.
In recent days alone, local naturalists using the app have spotted: a northern mockingbird, a gray tree frog, a white-tailed deer, a monarch butterfly, a red fox and an eastern cottontail rabbit, along with trees and plants such as a Norway maple, a chestnut oak and American pokeweed.