By Sean Beckett (NBNC) and Nathaniel Sharp (VT Center for Ecostudies)


From April 20 to May 20, Vermonters descended into backyards, back woods, sidewalks, ponds, basements, and attics, searching for all of Vermont's spring biodiversity.

The Vermont Spring Backyard BioBlitz, an event hosted by North Branch Nature Center, Vermont Center for Ecostudies, and Vermont Alliance for Half Earth, challenged Vermonters to discover new communities in a time of social distancing-- both the ecological community and the virtual community of fellow nature lovers.

Participants uploaded photographs of fish, frogs, ferns, and any other living organism to a special project within the iNaturalist citizen science platform, where a worldwide audience of amateurs and experts helped identify and catalog their findings through crowdsourcing.

In total, 161 people posted 10,622 observations throughout the month-long project window. Another 840 people from the global iNaturalist community then helped identify those observations, resulting in the definitive identification of 1,359 different species of plants, animals, fungi, and many other manners of living creatures.

Among the plethora of observations were the rare, the common, the beautiful, and the overlooked. The ten most-observed species were:

  1. Red Trillium - 149 observations
  2. Yellow Trout Lily - 135 observations
  3. American Robin - 96 observations
  4. Marsh Marigold - 94 observations
  5. Carolina Spring-Beauty - 88 observations
  6. Colt’s-Foot - 84 observations
  7. Song Sparrow - 79 observations
  8. Black-capped Chickadee - 78 observations
  9. Spotted Salamander - 76 observations
  10. Bloodroot - 74 observations

In addition to these fixtures of springtime in the Northeast were a suite of rarities, including a spider disguised as ant, a snail never before see in Vermont, a tiger beetle only reported once before on iNaturalist, and a whole lot more. Check out the photo highlights below, and be sure to click on each photo for a larger view, species details, and the photographer's name.

Thank you to all who participated in the Vermont Spring Backyard BioBlitz! While the BioBlitz may be over, biodiversity is always waiting to be discovered around every corner, and it's never too late to explore. The Vermont Atlas of Life is an ongoing project by the Vermont Center for Ecostudies that depends on the community to help catalog every living thing in Vermont. Sign up for iNaturalist today, and start posting your encounters!

To see the full results, visit our iNaturalist project page (no accounts required)