Blitzing biodiversity

Student citizen scientists and BioBlitzes are helping the environment by gathering Australia's biodiversity data.

Dr Judy Friedlander explains how schools can contribute to biodiversity data using a smart device, shine the spotlight on threatened species and build STEM knowledge. Showcased through National Biodiversity month and the B&B BioBlitz.

Watch 'Blitzing Biodiversity' (08:14)

Dr Judy Friedlander – biodiversity and citizen science champion.

(Duration: 8 minutes 14 seconds)


[Red and blue logo revealed reading ‘STEM 2022 on demand’.

Dr Judy Friedlander appears on screen.] 

Dr Judy Friedlander:

Hi, I'm Dr Judy Friedlander from PlantingSeeds B&B Highway.

[Judy raises a smart phone and tablet that she is holding in her hands.]

How can these smart devices help the plants and native stingless bees in this garden and the birds above?

[Screen shows a smart phone using an app to photograph plants.]

The answer is through Citizen Science. Citizen Science is an amazing way that a citizen, a student, teacher, any learner can contribute to biodiversity databases and maps through the taking and uploading of images of species. And schools will have the opportunity to engage in citizen science in September's National Biodiversity Month through a nationwide BioBlitz. More on that and how Citizen Science links to learning outcomes and curriculums in a minute.

[Screen shows a black and white photograph of two people looking into a microscope. Screen then shows a series of images of smart devices photographing objects in nature.]

Taxonomy was once the domain of white-coated scientists with years of university training. While this expertise is still important, everyday Australians are increasingly identifying species through Citizen Science apps and smart devices. These devices now have the capacity to communicate with the internet and take extraordinary images.

[Screen shows a person typing on a computer, onto a webpage titled, ‘iNaturalist. The webpage appears full screen with ‘Kookaburras’ typed into the search bar. Below this the screen reads, ‘12,131 observations’, ‘4 species’, ‘1,381 identifiers’, ‘3758’ observers’. Below this information is a map of Australia with small red squares scattered across the map, with some areas richer in colour than others. To the right of this are images of different kookaburras with a location, date, and username.]

If uploaded to a reputable Citizen Science app, like iNaturalist, your observations and images can be identified by experts. Importantly, these observations fill information gaps to help scientists understand species declines and assist with regeneration strategies.

[Description not needed: The visuals in this part of the video only support what is spoken; the visuals do not provide additional information.]  

An uploaded plant, bee, butterfly, or bird observation to a Citizen Science database could help paint a fuller picture of local biodiversity. It could be the piece of a missing puzzle or astound scientists with its rarity.

September's National Biodiversity Month, it's a great time to get involved in the incredible nationwide school Citizen Science initiative, the B&B BioBlitz.

A BioBlitz is a way to discover and record as many living things as possible within set locations and over a limited time.

[Screen shows an animation of a map of Australia, focusing on New South Wales. One by one, pinpoints land on areas within the map. To the right of the map is an image of a Blue Banded Bee.]

This generates or extends biodiversity data at chosen locations.

[Screen shows Dr Judy Friedlander.]

Scientists and government organisations are calling out for more biodiversity data. And the good news is that citizen scientists can help. Only 5% of citizen science projects are urban-based.

[Screen reads, ‘B&B BioBlitz, September 1st to 9th, 2022.]

The Citizen Science B&B School BioBlitz is happening around National Threatened Species Day in September and schools around Australia can all participate through devoting a lunch hour or another set period of time to Citizen Science.

[Screen shows a series of images of young people photographing nature using smart devices. Screen then shows the iNaturalist website with entered observations of nature, including bees, ladybirds, and flies.]

Students can explore their school grounds, take photos of bugs, birds, plants, and other species, and have a designated teacher upload the images to iNaturalist and its Australian node, the CSIROs Atlas of Living Australia.

[Screen shows the iNaturalist website, scrolling through a long grid of images of things in nature.]

iNaturalist is a network of citizen scientists and biologists around the globe that maps and shares observations of biodiversity, 105 million and counting.

[Description not needed: The visuals in this part of the video only support what is spoken; the visuals do not provide additional information.]  

The first National Citizen Science B&B BioBlitz in schools will shine a spotlight on threatened species, contribute to important biodiversity data, build STEM knowledge, and demonstrate citizen science links to curriculum.

[Screen shows a series of high-quality images as explained by Judy.]

These amazing creatures taken with a macro lens on an everyday smart device, a phone, computer, or the like are a native stingless bee, a king parrot, a caper white butterfly, and a species of native aster. And students around Australia will be able to take images such as these in the big school B&B BioBlitz in September, coordinated by PlantingSeeds projects and the B&B Highway.

Screen shows logos of the NSW Government, Eastern Alliance for Sustainable Living, EZEC, Australian Citizen Science Association and Atlas of Living Australia.]

The B&B BioBlitz has the support of organisations, such as the New South Wales Department of Education and the CSIROs Atlas of Living Australia.

PlantingSeeds implements and supports regeneration activities and education in a number of Australian states through the B&B Highway.

[Screen shows an image of the east coast of Australia. In Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria are symbols of flowers, birds or insects.]

There will be 100 B&Bs, which stands for Bed and Breakfasts for birds, bees, and biodiversity by year end creating regenerative corridors and sanctuaries for people, plants, and pollinators, whose numbers are declining.

[Screen reads, ‘Guidelines provided on:

  • how to take photos

  • how to upload observations.’]

For the BioBlitz, schools will be provided with guidelines and instructions to show you how easy it is to use devices to take observations and contribute them to biodiversity databases.

[Screen shows an issue of the NSW Government publication, ‘Scan: the journal for educators.’ This issue contains a segment on, ‘Citizen science in the classroom’. Screen shows an excerpt from the journal titled, ‘Citizen Science: crowd sourcing and crowd-pleasing STEM activities for schools’.]

The B&B BioBlitz offers students in late primary and early years of high school an opportunity to contribute valuable observations and develop STEM skills.

Citizen Science also offers many valuable links to the Australian and State school curriculums.

[Screen reads, ‘Mathematics:

  • use counting skills

  • make predictions

  • conduct statistical analysis

  • discuss probabilities.’]

There are activities relevant to many curriculum areas and all age groups, in Humanities and Social Sciences,

[Screen reads, ‘Humanities and Social Sciences/Geography:

  • use maps to interpret data

  • research environmental issues

  • discuss climate and weather and how they impact living things.]

in Technologies,

[Screen reads, ‘Technologies/ICT:

  • use mobile devices and apps to collect data and make observations

  • present findings.’]

in Science.

[Screen reads, ‘Science:

  • sampling activities

  • data collections in observing the environment

  • identify species.’]

You can explore your local area and see what species have been observed.

[Screen shows the iNaturalist website, ‘Observations’ page with a map of the world and several red dots scattered across it.]

You can see distributions of species around Australia.

[Screen shows someone type, ‘Brisbane’ into the search bar and the screen zooms in to Brisbane.]

Check on the status of species,

[Screen shows someone type, ‘Ringtail possum’ into the search bar and click ‘observations’. On the map, Australia shows the most scattered red dots and observation data about the possum appears on the right-hand side.]

do a deep dive into a species you're interested in.

[Screen shows someone type, ‘Tetragonula’ into the search bar and click ‘about’. A screen appears with a picture of an insect that looks like a fly, and information about the insect appears as the screen scrolls down.]

A fun feature of a BioBlitz and iNaturalist is the leaderboard.

[Screen shows a list of schools with a bar beside each school with a number beside it. The first school has the longest bar and it gets shorter for each schools below. Below this list is a map and a journal with pictures.]

A leaderboard allows participating schools and students to see their observations and compare their school with others for collaborations and challenges. Participating schools in the BioBlitz will be able to win great prizes, such as Optus smartphones for special photos and observations.

[Description not needed: The visuals in this part of the video only support what is spoken; the visuals do not provide additional information.]

Prizes for ‘Most Unusual Species’, ‘Most Peculiar Plant’, ‘Most Breathtaking Bug and Bird’, ‘Most Species Observed’, ‘The Best Closeup’.

[Screen reads, ‘’.]

To join the B&B BioBlitz and for more information, register through our website at and follow the BioBlitz prompts or email us at There are workshops in real time and recorded to take you through the simple steps involved.

[Screen shows Dr Judy Friedlander.]

Biodiversity needs citizen scientists like you. So enjoy your bio-blitzing and I hope you make some exciting discoveries.

[Screen shows the B&B Highway and Planting Seeds logos.]

[Video concludes by displaying the NSW Government logo.] 

[End of Transcript] 

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