B.C. butterfly enthusiasts – and everyone concerned about the future of the colourful pollinators – are encouraged to join a citizen science project to track the abundance and diversity of butterlies in British Columbia.
Through March 14, the David Suzuki Foundation’s Butterflies in My Backyard (BIMBY) is recruiting volunteers to help find butterflies in the province. Participants will help document butterfly species in their communities starting in April.
In an April webinar, BIMBY volunteers will be trained to use iNaturalist (an app that allows people to identify plant, animal and insect species with smartphones and record info for researchers and other citizen scientists). Volunteers will then meet monthly from May to September. School participants can also join a schoolyard BIMBY Bioblitz in June. Keen volunteers will also be trained to document butterflies along specific walking routes during the season.
This year’s province-wide initiative builds from last year’s, which saw more than 160 Lower Mainland volunteers make hundreds of observations and document 47 butterfly species in Metro Vancouver.
The B.C.-based citizen science campaign is hosted by the David Suzuki Foundation on the iNaturalist platform, in partnership with UBC zoologist Michelle Tseng and UBC Botanical Garden associate director Tara Moreau.
According to UBC’s E-Fauna B.C. website, at least 184 butterfly species can be found in the province, the most diverse in the country. Tseng says the latest data also show 10 out of 19 endangered insects in B.C. are butterflies.
Like other wild pollinators, butterflies in B.C. are threatened by pesticides, climate change and habitat loss. The BIMBY project team hopes the data collected in 2022 will help present a clearer picture of B.C. butterfly health and help inform conservation efforts.
Beyond using citizen science to create a baseline and document butterfly abundance and diversity in B.C., it is important “to see how this work can help to halt the loss of biodiversity and prevent extinction of species in B.C.,” Moreau says. “These are the big global biodiversity goals for the next decade, and it would be great to showcase how we can connect baselining butterflies to halting their extinction.”
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