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Over 300 species identified in a citizen science event, the Otaniemi Campus Bioblitz

14 teams went around the Otaniemi campus. The purpose of the event was to raise awareness on biodiversity and to learn with whom we share our campus with
Two hands hold a smart phone while taking a close-up of a tree trunk on campus.
Observing an epiphytic lichen during Otaniemi Bioblitz. Photo: Aalto University / Mikko Raskinen

Over 300 species identified in a citizen science event, the Otaniemi Campus Bioblitz 
The first ever Bioblitz at Aalto University was organised on a sunny autumn afternoon at Otaniemi on 8 September by Aalto University, Aalto University's Student Union (AYY) and Symbioosi ry, the student association of biology students in the University of Helsinki. The purpose of the event was to raise awareness on biodiversity and to learn with whom we share our campus with. As a result, 305 non-human wild species were identified! 

The event engaged 56 exited participants representing students and staff from Aalto University, and biology students from the University of Helsinki. The participants formed 14 teams and mapped species for three hours in a specified area covering almost the whole Otaniemi campus.

Before the competition start, the participants were introduced to the basics and importance of biodiversity by Riku Kangasniemi from Symbioosi ry. Aapo Pihkala, project manager in sustainability and landscape at Aalto University Campus and Real Estate (ACRE), presented how biodiversity and ecosystem services can be considered in the planning and management of Otaniemi campus. 

Contributing to citizen science

During the 3-hour competition, the teams had to successfully photograph their observations and gather them in iNaturalist mobile application. In iNaturalist, the observations are validated by other users, and they may also become citizen science.

Five people looking down at a pile of wood, sun is shining in autumnal nature area.
Participating a Bioblitz opens new perspectives to a nearby environment. Photo: Aalto University / Mikko Raskinen

Apart from the general public, a wide community of experts are engaged in iNaturalist and the data may be used for research purposes.

Over 60% of the observed species in the Otaniemi Bioblitz comprised of plants and the remaining portion included insects, birds and fungi, as well as a few species of arachnids (spiders, harvestmen, mites) and mollusks (snails, slugs). In addition, nice individual observations were made of a smooth newt, European common frog, and viviparous lizard. European rabbit and brown hare represented mammals of Otaniemi during the competition.

There's more to see around us

The event was successful, and two teams were awarded for gathering the highest number of validated observations. All the respondents of the event feedback survey would participate another Bioblitz, if organized. The experience was described as “funny” and “great” and delivering new perspectives to a nearby environment. The event even received an honorary mention in the Campus Sustainability Awards competition on 13 October 2022! Encouraged by this feedback, the planning of a possible spring Bioblitz will start early next year, targeting at an Otaniemi Bioblitz 2.0 in May.

So, keep tuned and your eyes open next time when going to the Otaniemi metro or heading towards a lecture - a bird like curlew sandpiper might just be passing through the campus as well! Or, when you are chatting with your friend at the park, a newt or a woodlouse might hear you. And if you fall, you might spot a bird’s nest fungi that looks just like little eggs in a basket.

More information
Meeri Karvinen, meeri.[email protected] 
Hanna Paulomäki, [email protected]

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