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Abstract Detail

Education and Outreach

Boom, Brian [1].

The New York City EcoFlora Project: Connecting Urban People and Nature.

In 2016, The New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) created and began prototyping the New York City (NYC) EcoFlora project. An EcoFlora (“Ecological Flora”) is a database of naturally occurring plant species and their relationships with other organisms and physical conditions that allow the plants to exist. An EcoFlora combines established knowledge from herbarium specimens and the scientific literature with real-time observation of plants, and thus contributes not only to our body of scientific data, but also provides opportunities for education and informs conservation. The project addresses two interrelated needs. First, as people increasingly live in urban habitats, there is the need to better understand the effects of urbanization on biodiversity; particularly, what organisms persist through the urbanization process, and how they adapt to the changes urbanization brings – fragmented habitats, changes in soil moisture and microbes, and disappearance of commensal organisms and replacement by others. Second, there is the need to alleviate a societal ailment known as “plant blindness,” which is defined as people’s inability to fully appreciate plants and their multiplicity of beneficial roles in the ecosystem and in society. The NYC EcoFlora, led by NYBG, in partnership with governmental and private stakeholders, is designed to address these problems through its innovative design of integrating original observations of NYC plants and their biotic interactions by citizen scientists with legacy biodiversity data from herbarium specimens and published scientific literature. The NYC EcoFlora will increase environmental literacy, by reducing plant blindness, for the City’s residents, and increased natural history knowledge will provide a stronger scientific basis for sound, sustainable stewardship of NYC’s biodiversity. The NYC EcoFlora is designed to be a model project for replication in other urban areas; excellent progress has been made to date towards achieving this goal. Recruitment and retention of citizen scientists is principally fostered by monthly EcoQuest Challenges, which encourage residents and visitors to document the wild flora and fauna of New York City by taking and sharing photos via iNaturalist, an easy-to-use mobile App. Since the first EcoQuest Challenge in August 2017, more than 300 observers have recorded approximately 3,000 observations of more than 80 species.

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Related Links:
New York City EcoFlora project
EcoQuest Challenge

1 - New York Botanical Garden, 2900 Southern Blvd., Bronx, NY, 10458, United States

urban flora

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Session: 17, Contributed Papers: Education and Outreach I
Location: 104/Mayo Civic Center
Date: Tuesday, July 24th, 2018
Time: 9:30 AM
Number: 17007
Abstract ID:768
Candidate for Awards:None


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