In 2019, Greener JC launched Jersey City’s first ever BioBlitz. A BioBlitz is a communal event where community scientists record as many species of plant and animal life as possible in a designated place and time. Community scientists are any members of the community who want to engage with the biodiversity around them, observe, and learn more. In 2019, Greener JC organized the BioBlitz to allow community members to collect biodiversity data in two ways. We organized a single-day event on May 4th where multiple groups of community scientists joined members of the Greener JC team to document the natural life in the city, and we created an ongoing project in iNaturalist encouraging community members to continue adding observations before and after our main May 4th event. In 2019, the BioBlitz data from throughout the year resulted in 284 observations of 168 species by over 20 community scientists!
In 2020, Greener JC planned to continue and expand the project, however, as Jersey City coped with the unprecedented effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing efforts have made it difficult to conduct BioBlitz events together. Instead, we encouraged local residents to explore their neighborhood green spaces while practicing social distancing. We also hosted a summer internship for local students (see more about the program here). Nine of these students focused their efforts on exploring the city and documenting its biodiversity as part of the BioBlitz project. Despite the difficulties of 2020, the results from the yearlong BioBlitz were impressive and encouraging.
During the 2020 calendar year,, 195 community scientists documented 765 species from 2,079 observations within Jersey City. Community scientists covered over 30 green spaces in the city. They explored their backyards and street corners as well as large protected areas like Liberty State Park and Lincoln Park. The sheer number of species found is further proof that our city isn’t just a great place for humans to live, but for natural biodiversity as well. Observations include flowers and trees from backyards to the rarer wildlife we seldom think would exist within an urban landscape.
Some highlights from 2020 include birds of prey like peregrine falcons, American kestrels, ospreys, and eastern screech owl. Other birds documented include a plethora of species of waterfowl, shore birds, warblers, and other songbirds. Our green spaces provide resting areas for birds on long migrations as well as homes for birds who live here year-round. For example, palm warbler pass through Jersey City as they migrate from where they nest in the boreal forests of Canada to where they spend their winters in the Caribbean and Yucatan of Mexico. Scarlet tanagers breed in New Jersey and then migrate as far south as Colombia and Bolivia for the winter.
Other exciting wildlife includes two species of snakes, two species of turtles, and one frog species. Mammals included red fox, American beaver, striped skunks, and raccoons. Last, but not least, 171 species of insects and arachnids were documented including eastern tiger swallowtails, monarchs, polyphemus moths, and bumblebees.
(See 2020 student work here)
In 2021, we will be shifting away from the BioBlitz model to insure a full documenting of the city’s biodiversity throughout the year. Like before, we will be utilizing the iNaturalist platform encouraging any community member who would like to explore their city. The Jersey City Urban Ecology Study 2021 is live and active in iNaturalist. To contribute to the project, please follow the instructions below. By the end of the year we hope to document even more species than last year with more engaged community scientists.
To contribute to the project:
Step1: Download the iNaturalist application on your phone
Step 2: Create an account
Step 3: Join the Urban Ecology Study
-Click “More” in the bottom right-hand corner of the app
-Search “Jersey City Urban Ecology Study 2021”
Step 4: Make an observation
-Find a plant or animal in Jersey City to identify
-Click “Observe” at the bottom center bar of your screen
-ID with a photo: Snap a photo and select “What do you see?” to view suggestions. Tap on the species identification you feel is most accurate
-Don’t have a photo? Click “NO PHOTO” the select “What did you see?”
To learn how to use iNaturalist see the video below created by our 2020 interns:
(Link: to intern video)