The next Wild Pollinator Count is on soon. What’s it all about?

Spring has well and truly arrived! Have you seen any of the new season’s wild pollinators in your local patch yet?

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We’re only two months away from the next National Pollinator Count – it runs from 13-20 November. If you’ve missed the first few and are wondering what this event is all about, here’s a brief recap:

What’s it all about? The national Wild Pollinator Count started in November 2014. We started the count to raise awareness about Australia’s thousands of wild insect pollinators…not just our gorgeous native bees, but all the flies, butterflies, wasps, moths, and beetles that are so often overlooked. (There are plenty of birds, mammals and reptiles that also pollinate, but we just focus on insects). Many of these insects aren’t just full-time pollinators – they are also important to ecosystems in other ways, for example by providing natural pest control services. The count runs biannually, in the second full week of April (autumn) & November (spring), every year. We hope that participants will join in regularly, as this will give them the opportunity to keep track of seasonal patterns of wild pollinators and flowers in their local area.

Is this a citizen science project? There are many different definitions of a citizen science project. We think any project that encourages non-scientists to engage with scientific methods on a regular basis is a citizen science project. Our count protocol is based on standard scientific methods that pollination ecologists around the world use to collect data on pollinator insects. Having a standard counting method, which can be conducted at multiple locations within a set period of time, enhances the quality of our data.

What happens to the data? The data we collect in each count contributes to science. We are building important information on seasonal plant–pollinator relationships in Australia. This is because we ask participants to watch one flowering plant species and name the plant they watch (common name is fine!). Compared to trapping or collection methods, which tell us about the broader insect community that live in a landscape, our method tells us specifically what pollinators visit what plants in different locations across Australia. We release results summaries here on this website after every count. We are also collaborating with the Atlas of Living Australia (ALA) to contribute validated biodiversity data to this important database. Personal identification data (names, email addresses etc.) will not be shared.

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How do I join in? Anyone, anywhere in Australia can join in during the count week. All you need is some flowers to watch and a spare 10 minutes! You don’t need to leave your garden, and it’s completely free to join in. Read the full instructions here, and find answers to some frequently asked questions here. And you don’t need to be an entomologist! If you need help identifying what you’ve seen, have a look at our identification guides and information resources that are free to download.

How can you submit observations? Your count data can be submitted here via our online submission form. You don’t need to have a photo to share an observation, but a good photo that clearly shows most of the insect’s features can help us validate the observation for biodiversity records.

There are a few ways you can share photos:

– by email to us: wildpollinatorcount@gmail.com

– by sharing your photo with our Flickr page: https://www.flickr.com/photos/wildpollinatorcount/

– by tagging the Wild Pollinator Count Project when submitting an observation through the Bowerbird site (you will need to join the project to submit sightings) http://www.bowerbird.org.au/projects/6625/sightings

– by including our hashtag #OzPollinators if posting your photo on Twitter

We also encourage you to keep the Wild Pollinators conversation going on social media outside official Count periods!

In very exciting news, we are working with Atlas of Living Australia to develop a syndicated submission form that enables you to submit validated observations directly to ALA, the only publicly-available biodiversity database in Australia. We hope to have the form online before the next count and will keep you updated here.

A few people have asked if we are associated with the new National Pollinator Week. We are independent of this event, but they have a variety of face-to-face events scheduled that may interest pollinator fans. If you are keen to incorporate an official Wild Pollinator Count into your Pollinator Week event, the only overlapping date is 20 November. At this stage, we cannot use data from any pollinator counts or observations that are submitted outside the official count week.

Stay tuned for more updates and we look forward to hearing from you during the November Wild Pollinator Count, 13-20 November. It only takes 10 minutes!

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