Students and graduates leading backyard biodiversity and citizen science

Ever wanted to attract native reptiles, bees and birds to your backyard?

Starring University of Adelaide science students, graduates and researchers, the Biology Society of South Australia (BSSA) has produced a series of videos promoting backyard biodiversity and citizen science.

“Why not give these backyard hacks a try, and see what native species are attracted to your garden?” says BSSA president Adam Toomes.

Adam, whose PhD research at the University of Adelaide involves investigating drivers and dynamics of the Australian illegal wildlife trade, presents a short video about reptile microhabitats.

“Making a few small changes to your garden can help to create microhabitats for native reptiles, such as skinks and geckos,” Adam says.

“You can record your observations on our iNaturalist project: an online, community-driven citizen science platform.

“It’s a great way to learn how to identify local flora and fauna, whilst contributing to ecological research.”

“We’d love to see what’s lurking in your leaf litter.”

In the second video of the Backyard Heroes series, ecologist Bradley Bianco explains the benefits of planting local, native plants in your garden, and how to go about choosing species that are local to your area.

“Start by heading out to your local bushland reserve, and see what plants are native to your area?” Bradley says.

In episode three, Darcy Whittaker climbs to new heights and explains how creating artificial tree hollows, in the form of nesting boxes, can help to provide much needed shelter for woodland birds and various other species.

“Why not have a go at experimenting with different designs, and attracting different bird species in your area?” Darcy says.

“We’d love to see your DIY creations and what bird species are using your backyard.”

In the final episode, Liz Williamson explains how adding a variety of native flowering plants to your garden can help to provide food resources to the unique and diverse array of native bee species home to South Australia.

Liz also encourages you to record your observations on iNaturalist and share with BSSA on social media.

“We’d love to see the all-you-can-eat buffet you create for native bees in your garden,” says Liz.

Each video is published on the BSSA YouTube channel and has further information and resources in the video descriptions.

BSSA’s iNaturalist project aims to encourage members to engage with their local environment while contributing to citizen science. ‘Backyard’ observations are collated and shared more broadly via its social media platforms and through its monthly newsletter.

Backyard Heroes: Episode 1

University of Adelaide wildlife ecologist Adam Toomes shows us how to create microhabitats for native reptiles such as skinks and geckos.

Backyard Heroes: Episode 2

Flora ecologist and Bachelor of Science (Wildlife Conservation Biology) graduate Bradley Bianco explains the benefits of planting local, native plants in your garden, and how to go about choosing species that are local to your area.

Backyard Heroes: Episode 3

Darcy Whittaker explains how nesting boxes provide important shelter for woodland birds and other species.

Darcy is a Bachelor of Science (Wildlife Conservation Biology) graduate and is currently completing an honours degree in environmental geoscience.

Backyard Heroes: Episode 4

Want to attract native bees to your garden, but not sure where to start?

University of Adelaide applied biology graduate and bee researcher Liz Williamson has the answers.

Tagged in Research, Engagement and Industry, Student & Graduate Stories, Ecology, Environmental Science, School of Biological Sciences

Competition: Young Scientist of the Year

How do we feed the world’s growing population? How do we save our wildlife from extinction? Got an idea that will build a brighter, greener world?

Australian high school students are invited to submit a short video about one of Australia’s big science challenges.

Video competition