St. Mary’s Col­lege stu­dents record more than 750 species

St. Mary’s Col­lege stu­dents record over 750 species

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What is shar­ing our im­me­di­ate en­vi­ron­ment?

This sim­ple ques­tion has led St. Mary’s Col­lege of Mary­land coastal ecol­ogy stu­dents work­ing with Seabird McKeon, vis­it­ing pro­fes­sor of bi­ol­ogy, to doc­u­ment more than 750 species of an­i­mals, plants and fun­gus on cam­pus and in the sur­round­ing area last fall se­mes­ter.

“Our abil­ity to un­der­stand the ecol­ogy of an area starts with un­der­stand­ing what species are here,” McKeon said in a re­lease from the col­lege. “And the only way to do that is to go out­side and look — but I didn’t ex­pect my stu­dents to find more than 700 species.”

McKeon found an un­ex­pected tool in the ubiq­uity of cell phones, and an app called “iNat­u­ral­ist” which makes the recorded ob­ser­va­tions avail­able for Ci­ti­zen Science projects world­wide.

Sev­eral of the stu­dents found the as­sign­ment com­pelling, in­clud­ing Sarah Schaefer, Class of 2020, who noted, “The app was more in­ter­est­ing then Poke­mon Go, and com­pet­ing with class­mates to find the most species was fun.”

When asked what her fa­vorite sight­ing was, she replied, “The coolest sight­ing I had was of a rhi­noc­eros bee­tle which was right out­side my front door.”

The “Bio­di­ver­sity of St. Mary’s Col­lege of Mary­land” pro­ject on iNat­u­ral­ist can be found at www. inat­u­ral­­di­ver­sity-of-st-mary-s-col­lege-of-mary­land and will be con­tin­ued by the St. Mary’s Nat­u­ral His­tory So­ci­ety’s ex­pe­di­tion team in the spring.


St. Mary’s Col­lege of Mary­land stu­dent Isaac Hersh, Class of 2019, holds up a sum­mer floun­der.

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