The San Marcos Parks and Recreation Department will host its first Bioblitz event throughout September to crowdsource data about local pollinating wildlife.
"I would pitch it as an opportunity to spend time outside in this ecosystem we have in this area," said Conrad Chappell, a San Marcos Discovery Center specialist. "I would also encourage people to go out to our natural areas because all of those are open, and they have been throughout this whole COVID-19 period."
The Bioblitz invites participants to take photos of wildlife and fauna with the iNaturalist app, whether it is in their backyards, neighborhoods or natural areas.
Other app users then identify what is in the photo. Once a photo's subject has been identified twice, it is considered verified at that point and becomes research-grade data, according to Chappell.
"Despite the heat, hopefully a lot of people will go out and experiment with this app," Chappell said. "Hopefully, they'll start using it in their daily lives because when you're walking the dog and you see a plant or animal you don't know, you can use this to have someone else who does know identify it for you."
Although the Bioblitz concludes at the end of September, app users can continue to submit photos for identification for research as well as their own knowledge.
"It's just a great way to go out and be learning about your environment while also doing something healthy and outside of the house," Chappell said. "With a small group or just yourself, you learn more about your environment and also even contribute to something larger than yourself. It's a pretty easy thing to do, and the benefits that come from it are pretty significant."
The San Marcos event is part of a nationwide initiative created by the National Recreation and Parks Association.