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Canberra’s Iconic Mountain put Under the Microscope

October 10, 2013 Destination Global No Comments Email Email

Visitors to Canberra are invited to take part in a citizen science ‘bioblitz’ event to document as many species of flora and fauna as possible in an iconic part of the nation’s capital.

542403 In celebration of Canberra’s centenary year, scientists, naturalists, amateur photographers, students, families and animal lovers are invited to converge on Canberra’s Black Mountain Nature Reserve for the first ever ACT Centenary Bioblitz from 25 to 27 October.

CSIRO Discovery Centre project officer Anh Nguyen said the idea for the Bioblitz came from the Atlas of Living Australia, a national collaboration between the CSIRO, Australian museums, herbaria and other biological collections and the Australian Government, to provide comprehensive information on Australia’s biodiversity.

She described the inaugural event as a biological innovatory of all the living organisms, much like a census. ‘The idea is to engage ordinary Australians in citizen science,’ Ms Nguyen said.

‘There are a lot of nature enthusiasts obviously interested in it and they want the opportunity to interact with scientists and ask them all these questions.’

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Canberra’s Bioblitz will be headquartered at the CSIRO Discovery Centre nestled on Canberra’s CSIRO Black Mountain laboratories beside the Australian National Botanic Gardens and the surveys will run over the three days.

The survey groups of between five and 15 people will be led by a scientist knowledgeable in the chosen field who will let participants know what to look or listen for.

‘If they’re going on a bird survey they will be told how to listen for special bird calls and how to record that in a special app that has been developed,’ Ms Nguyen said.

Participants will be able to record sightings onto their smartphones or tablets using the ‘OzAtlas’ app that makes it quick and easy to log sightings and share photos.

Ms Nguyen said there is a chance rare and uncommon species may be discovered by the citizen scientists that could make genuinely profound contributions to our understanding of Australian wildlife. Some of the surveys have proved to be so popular they are already booked out.

‘The one that’s really popular is the peacock spider; there’s been significant coverage over the past 12 months because it was a newly discovered species at the Namadgi National Park by a Canberra local,’ Ms Nguyen said.

‘It’s such a beautiful spider; it’s really colourful, but it’s very tiny.’

Stuart Harris photographed the fleck-sized jumping spider resting on a leaf while on a bushwalk to Boroomba Rocks in Namadgi National Park. The photo was uploaded to his Flickr site, where an expert on peacock spiders saw it and suggested it was a new species.

The spider was named Maratus harrisi after Mr Harris, who will be leading the Bioblitz surveys in Canberra to document the peacock spider.

To register for a survey or for more information, visit www.csiro.au/bioblitz.

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