Community membes and CSUCI students are invited to download iNaturalist on their smartphone, grab their sneakers and come on down to CSU Channel Islands (CSUCI) on Saturday, Feb. 19 to join in the annual BioBlitz.
Partitipants can wander around campus between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. and take photos of any plants, flowers, fungi, insects, birds, or trees that catch their eye. The iNaturalist app will identify what they’ve just seen and upload it to their global citizen science database of plants, flowers, fungi, trees, insects and animals found on and around the CSUCI campus, and the world.
No scientific background is required, just a smartphone, the app and a healthy sense of curiosity about the world around you.

Three Environmental Science & Resource Management (ESRM) students organized the BioBlitz as their senior research (capstone) project. The student researchers will collect the photos and data, study it, and add it to a growing database of all the biodiversity on and around campus.

Each year, BioBlitzters will add to the database so scientists and student scientists will accumulate a wealth of increasing amounts of data through the years.

“Many scientific studies of species’ distributions are hampered by the inability of scientists to be everywhere monitoring all species’ distributions at all times,” said assistant professor Dan Reineman, a faculty mentor to the project along with ESRM Lecturer Brenton Spies.

“BioBlitzes enable a wider and larger community to contribute to our knowledge of what lives where,” Reineman said. “From these contributions, scientists can advance our understanding of all sorts of related questions, such as how human development or climate change impact natural distribution and abundance of living things.”

The first BioBlitz on campus was organized by ESRM capstone students in February 2020 with the intention of it becoming an annual event, but the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the second one. The three students organizing the 2022 BioBlitz are ESRM seniors Viviana McKinley, Rocket Friend and Cody Johnson.

“We’re so lucky to have so much wildlife around us,” said McKinley, who is minoring in biology. “I’m a birdwatcher, so I’m always noticing the cool birds around campus that go unnoticed. A BioBlitz is good for us budding scientists to see what comes up in our data.”

The BioBlitz is a concept developed by a National Park Service naturalist during the first BioBlitz held in Washington, D.C., in 1996. The National Geographic Society describes it as an event that focuses on finding and identifying as many species as possible in a specific area over a short period of time.

National Geographic has been hosting BioBlitzes in numerous urban, rural and suburban areas which can be as small as a backyard or as large as an entire country.

The data collected by iNaturalist is uploaded to become part of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, an open-source database used by scientists and policy makers around the world. 

“We’re really interested in seeing the differences in vegetation between wet and dry years,” Spies said. “You can see how habitats evolve over time. This will give us such great natural history and biodiversity data about the campus and surrounding area.”

Spies said campus scientists have a particular interest in pollinators this year, such as bees or butterflies.

“Native plants support a rich diversity of native pollinators and insects,” Spies said. “With climate change occurring along with other human impacts, we’re seeing a lot our bee species dropping off and a loss in our butterfly populations. There is not a lot of research going on right now that is monitoring insects and pollinators.

“This is a way CSUCI can get a glimpse of what’s going on around campus.”

Those interested can register online to participate. Guests are asked to sign in at a station just outside Aliso Hall, observe Covid guidelines for the campus, and start exploring. For more, visit