Making News
06/05/2021
Use your eyes and iNaturalist and become a citizen scientist
by Mornington Peninsula Magazine

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Graeme Rigg’s photo of the rare beetle Astraeus navarchis.

When you’re out and about on the Peninsula, do you occasionally come across an unusual animal or plant you can’t identify? Mornington Peninsula Shire is inviting nature-lovers to become ‘citizen scientists’ and help record the Peninsula’s amazing biodiversity and habitats by using iNaturalist.

iNaturalist is one of the most popular biodiversity community science platforms in the world, with more than 1.5 million users contributing some 63 million observations. Australia is among the top four contributing nations, and by downloading and using the free app, you’ll be able to add to the iNaturalist community’s incredible body of work. Once you’ve downloaded it, simply join the group Mornington Peninsula Biodiversity to get started.

To help you on your way, you can register here for the shire’s free online iNaturalist training session on Monday, May 24, from 6.30-7.30pm. The session will be joined by ecologist Dr Luis Mata, who will introduce the platform and answer any questions about how to improve your citizen scientist skills. In the meantime, the shire has this story from iNaturalist user Graeme Rigg of a rare find last year:

“Unthanks Reserve in Somerville was originally part of a farm with a dam. Over time, the land surrounding the reserve has been developed for residential estate. There is a small section listed as ‘grassy woodland’ where I have been paying a bit of attention to of late, noticing this area contained tiger orchid (Diuris sulphurea) and button everlasting (Coronidium scorpioides).

“On Tuesday, October 21, I was on my afternoon walk and decided to walk through Unthanks Reserve and the grassy woodland section to see if there were any other interesting things to notice. I always have a small camera with me just in case I come across something. The afternoon was sunny and something shiny blue caught my eye. Not knowing exactly what it was, I made an identification – Castiarina bifasciata – then put it on iNaturalist for assistance. Within a short time, identification for another species – Astraeus navarchis – came in from multiple people both in Australia and overseas, several advising that the beetle was rare. Looking up on iNaturalist, there were two records in Australia – one from 2015 and the other being mine – and eight records listed on the Atlas of Living Australia.

“Pretty happy to find something rare, and it was only due to slowly walking around with my head down. The miniature world is an amazing place if time is taken to look.”

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