This is the 30th in our 50 Days of Chicago Nature. Read previous posts here.
For Oliver Burrus, every day is a celebration of biological diversity, much like the International Day of Biological Diversity that takes place tomorrow. Oliver, 16, spends an hour or two daily on the iNaturalist app, recording sightings of flora and fauna and helping others with identifications.
"I got everybody in my family into nature and birding and pretty much everybody in my family uses iNaturalist," says Oliver. "We have a sand prairie next to us that I go to every day."
Oliver coordinated Chicago's participation in the City Nature Challenge the last two years. The Challenge is a competition among cities worldwide to see who can make the most observations of nature. Observers recorded as many sightings as they could via iNaturalist last month, 4,500 as part of the Challenge in all.
"The previous organizer had shared she wasn't able to do it, so I volunteered," says Oliver, a Carpentersville native who is staying in Wisconsin during the pandemic. "I've co-organized it the last two years. Last year we had naturalist-led walks, which was pretty cool."
With iNaturalist, users can take a photo of a species and immediately receive an identification. Other users then confirm the sighting. With International Day of Biological Diversity here, there's an opportunity for folks to try out iNaturalist for the first time. Every iNaturalist observation has the potential to contribute to biodiversity science.
"People are trying out new things right now," Oliver says. "People are getting into nature and exploring the outside world more. It's been a really positive impact."
Click here for more information on how to use iNaturalist.