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How You Can Help Document Biodiversity In Arizona's Kaibab National Forest

inaturalist.org
(Photo via inaturalist.org)
Learn more about the project on the iNaturalist website.

The U.S. Forest Service wants visitors to the Kaibab to snap photos of plants and animals and submit them to an online database. The project will run throughout 2017.

Mark Christiano, GIS coordinator, said participants need to download a free app called iNaturalist.

“It automatically collects a lot of the data for us,” he said. “So for example, you’re not just getting the photo, but you get the location where the photo was taken [and] the timestamp. This generates really good data the forest can directly use at the end of the year.”

People can also submit audio clips, for example of bird song. Experts will then weigh in on the identity of the species. Biologists plan to use the data to monitor rare or invasive species and to inform management decisions.

RELATED: Want To Help Out? Here Are 4 Arizona Citizen Science Opportunities

“We see this as a way our visitors can receive expert feedback on their discoveries, and we think it’s a great way to connect forest service biologists with citizen scientists and to really encourage that exploration of the Kaibab National Forest," said Jackie Banks, public affairs officer.

The Kaibab covers 1.6 million acres and is divided by the Grand Canyon.

You can also use iNaturalist on your desktop computer. Learn more about the project on the iNaturalist website.

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Melissa grew up in Tucson, Arizona, where she fell in love with the ecology and geology of the Sonoran desert. She has a B.S. in Environmental Science from the University of Arizona and an M.FA. in Creative Writing and Environment from Iowa State University.