Driftless Area BioBlitz

Welcome to the Driftless Area BioBlitz (DABB)!

If you don’t know what a BioBlitz is, keep reading. Then join us for the DABB 2023 Nature Challenge!

Also, scroll down for videos showing how iNaturalist can help you identify what’s in your own backyard.

First of all…

What is a BioBlitz?

Created by iNaturalist,* a bioblitz is a communal citizen-science effort to record as many species within a designated location and time period as possible.

*Launched in 2008, iNaturalist  is a joint initiative by the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society. It is a social network of naturalists, citizen scientists, and biologists built on the concept of mapping and sharing observations of biodiversity across the globe. iNaturalist may be accessed via its website or from its mobile applications. As of December 2021 there were 2.5 million registered users! (Wikipedia)

What Is Driftless Area BioBlitz?

Driftless Area BioBlitz (DABB) is a free, annual, one-of-a-kind, opportunity for families, students, and all nature lovers to search for and learn about plants and wildlife in the Driftless Area.

Each year, from April to April, people can participate by submitting observations of wild organisms from anywhere in the Driftless Area using iNaturalist. The Driftless Area includes areas in Wisconsin and parts of Minnesota, Illinois, and Iowa that is free from glacial drift and seems not to have been covered by the Pleistocene ice.

Scroll down to see how you can participate!

The DABB partnership was formed in 2021. It is a unique collaboration of organizations in the La Crosse area that include Strive 2 Thrive Coulee Region, Mississippi Valley Conservancy, The Nature Place, the UW-La Crosse Biology department, Viterbo University Biology department, and La Crosse City Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department. This collaboration was formed in order to promote the DABB program and give participants an opportunity to meet naturalists, get guidance on sharing discoveries on iNaturalist and learn more about the natural world and particularly the Driftless Area’s incredible biodiversity. Other promotional supporters include: La Crosse Public Library, ORA Trails, Sustainability Institute, and the following Neighborhood Associations: Downtown, Holy Trinity-Longfellow, Logan Northside and Powell-Poage-Hamilton.

What is the DABB Nature Challenge?

The DABB Nature Challenge  is a “bioblitz within a bioblitz!” It is a FREE ongoing bioblitz in which participants use their cell phones or cameras and computer, to upload as many observations as they can in their yard, nearby park or trail, or anywhere in La Crosse or the Driftless Region. Public observations of “all things nature” helps document the incredible biodiversity of the driftless region. AND by becoming a “Member” on the DABB Nature Challenge iNaturalist project page, members are eligible to win prizes!

The 2022 Nature Challenge was held from April 24th to September 30th. The upcoming 2023 Nature Challenge begins April 30th and will run until September 30. Thank you to all who participated in the 2022 Nature Challenge!  

What is the Spotlight on Nature Event Series?

The Spotlight on Nature Event Series is a series of FREE, in-person events held at various times on various topics throughout the spring, summer and fall and is part of DABB’s Nature Challenge. These events are a chance to participate in a bioblitz with experts sharing their passion for and knowledge of the Driftless Region. Eight different events were held in 2022, each focusing on various taxa like fungi, moss and lichens, pollinator plants, birds, and insects, including nocturnal and decomposers.

A PDF of the 2023 Spotlight on Nature Events Series can be found here.

How Do I Participate in Driftless Area BioBlitz?

It’s easy! Just follow these steps:

  1. Bookmark Driftless Area BioBlitz 2023
  2. Create a free iNaturalist account.
  3. Download the iNaturalist app for iPhones or Android.
  4. Review iNaturalist’s instructions on how to use the app.
  5. Submit your observations of plants, animals (including invertebrates), and mushrooms in the Coulee Region/Driftless Area through the iNaturalist app on your phone or website on your computer.

The Miller Garden 2020–2023, Part 1

Thanks to the smartphone and its ability to zoom in, an amazing world is now available for regular folks to become citizen scientists, allowing for a close-up look into an amazing world that has ALWAYS been right in front of us! And with the help of the iNaturalist app, we can now identify many of nature’s insects as well as nature’s wonders! The following slides are a journey into a living garden with a close-up view of the diverse world of insects. All photos were taken by Vicki Miller, DABB founder, in her garden using a smartphone. All identifications were made with the help of the iNaturalist app. NOTE: Identifications made by iNat may not be accurate all of the time.

The Miller Garden 2020–2023, Part 2

Thanks to the smartphone and its ability to zoom in, an amazing world is now available for regular folks to become citizen scientists, allowing for a close-up look into an amazing world that has ALWAYS been right in front of us! Creating a “vibrant and alive” garden… The following is a journey into an amazing world of the beautiful and “cute” as well as the “strange” and bizarre – and where danger is always lurking…

How to make an observation using iNaturalist

An “observation” in a BioBlitz is simply a recording of a living being. To make an observation and have your data recorded for a BioBlitz, you need a smartphone and the iNaturalist app—no scientific knowledge required! This video walks you through how to make an observation once you’ve downloaded the app and created an account.
Vicki Miller, S2TCR Founder: I have been involved in the “non-profit world” since 2006, volunteering for many wonderful organizations in the area that share two of my passions:  healthy food and sustainability. In 2020, I founded Strive 2 Thrive Coulee Region with a mission to create a healthy and vibrant community and ecosystem through engaging and empowering all community members in ways in which they can strive to thrive. 
One of the purposes of S2T was to be a catalyst for a vibrant and healthy ecosystem in the Coulee Region and beyond, so in 2021, I created the Driftless Area Bioblitz (DABB) program and reached out to several organizations that focus on outdoor education to collaborate on this large, data-collection project. I will be joining DABB Coordinator, Erica Black, at all the events scheduled this year to help encourage, explain, and promote DABB. 
I love being “actively engaged in Nature” so when I’m not helping out at the planned events, you can often find me out and about with phone/camera in hand ready to upload “anything in nature” on to iNat app – so far, since March 1, 2021, I have submitted over 2,500 observations to the Driftless Area BioBlitz community project!
Erica Black, DABB Coordinator: I’m an upper Midwest gal with a dog named Gizmo, currently residing in La Crosse, WI. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Conservation Biology and a minor in Environmental Studies from UW-Madison, and have finally found a mildly-related permanent position at The Nature Center in La Crosse. Nature is my passion, so luckily I “found” this part-time volunteer position helping Strive 2 Thrive Coulee Region’s founder, Vicki Miller (Vicki and I go WAY back–to 2007! — so she knew right away who to call to be the DABB Coordinator!) I also volunteer my time for other local sustainability efforts. One such effort is the annual Earth Fair in La Crosse, of which I have been involved all 14 years! When I am not working, I enjoy riding my bicycle, hiking, doing puzzles, being with friends and family, cooking, and just being outdoors in general!

Collaborating partners