EcoFlora is a citizen science project, pioneered by the New York Botanical Garden in 2016. Expanding upon the project in 2019, four partner botanical gardens were selected to initiate local EcoFlora projects, including Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, Chicago Botanic Garden, Denver Botanic Garden and Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix. The Sarasota-Manatee EcoFlora Project utilizes the user-friendly iNaturalist platform and serves two complementary purposes:
- to meaningfully engage Floridians in protecting and preserving the state’s native plant species.
- to assemble new, original observations and data on the state’s flora to better inform policy decisions about management and conservation of the state’s natural resources.
It is easy and fun to join our Sarasota-Manatee Ecoflora project!
Each month, we also feature a new EcoQuest challenge to encourage the documentation of a specific species or group of species. We will also conduct a bioblitz each month to make iNaturalist observations in various natural areas throughout Sarasota and Manatee counties. If you are interested in participating in a bioblitz, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!
This project helps researchers study, conserve, and identify the plants and animals in our state, many of which are at risk for a variety of reasons. It also helps you, the public, engage with science and learn more about the living world around you.
There are no wrong observations! Each observation contributes vital information to reveal traits and processes largely unknown due to a lack of data and coordination between data sets. Millions of individual data points add up to big data that will enable new insights and opportunities for research, conservation and engagement.
Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is collaborating with the New York Botanical Garden, Chicago Botanic Garden, Denver Botanic Garden, and Desert Botanical Garden to expand New York Botanical Garden’s pioneering EcoFlora Project. The goal is to enlist the help of citizens in documenting the diversity and distribution of plants in their respective geographic areas. The Sarasota- Manatee EcoFlora Project is dedicated to the flora of Sarasota and Manatee Counties, Florida, USA.
Southwest Florida is home to a significant diversity of plants, animals, fungi, and habitats that provide such vital ecosystem services as cleaning the air and filtering the water. This biodiversity, though, is under increasing threat by development, invasive species, and a changing climate.
The Sarasota-Manatee EcoFlora Project serves two complementary purposes:
(1) to meaningfully engage Floridians in protecting and preserving the state’s native plant species, and
(2) to assemble new, original observations and data on southwest Florida’s flora to better inform policy decisions about management and conservation of our natural resources.
Let’s Get Started!
- Join the Sarasota-Manatee EcoFlora Project.
- Find plants – Anywhere in Sarasota and Manatee Counties
- Take multiple photos of plants, the flowers or fruits, the leaves, and the stem to show important features for identification.
- Upload your photos in the iNaturalist app. If they’re not wild, be sure to mark them as captive/cultivated!
Please do not trespass or disturb any plants or animals as you record your observations.
Monthly EcoQuest Challenges
WHAT IS AN ECOQUEST?
EcoQuests, part of the Sarasota-Manatee EcoFlora Project, challenge Floridians to become citizen scientists and observe, study and help conserve our native plants and animals. Each month, Sarasota-Manatee EcoFlora will announce a fun new challenge to help us document the plants of Sarasota and Manatee Counties by taking and sharing photos via iNaturalist.
EcoQuest Challenge 1 April 2020 – City Nature Challenge
Other Selby Gardens EcoFlora Projects
In addition to the Sarasota-Manatee EcoFlora Project, Selby has two additional projects on iNaturalist:
EpiFlora of the United States and Canada
A project to document the distribution and phenology of vascular epiphytic plants in the United States and Canada.
The Mexican bromeliad weevil has been decimating certain native Florida bromeliads, particularly Tillandsia utriculata and Guzmania monostachia. It also attacks many cultivated species. Please help to map its distribution either through direct sightings of the insect, or by mapping infected plants (usually seen on the ground broken into many pieces). A native Florida weevil can also attack bromeliads and once the plant is down it is difficult to tell, but any such sightings are helpful. Old, non-georeferenced photos are welcome if the photographer can geolocate them with a good degree of accuracy.
WHAT IS iNaturalist?
iNaturalist is an online social network of people sharing biodiversity information to help each other learn about nature. iNaturalist’s primary goal is to connect people to nature. The secondary goal is to generate scientifically valuable biodiversity data from these personal encounters. iNaturalist believes both of these goals can be achieved simultaneously – in fact, they reinforce one another.
One of the best parts about iNaturalist is that everyone can use it—you don’t need to be a scientist or a professional naturalist. All you need is an interest in the living world around you!
Contact the EcoFlora team for more information.
This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.