FOURTH ANNUAL “GREAT AUSSIE BIOQUEST” OFFERS $10,000 in CASH AND PRIZES
— for immediate release —
Australians are getting ready to participate in the fourth annual Great Aussie BioQuest, a competition to help map and protect the country’s biodiversity.
The event, which runs during National Science Week (10-18 August) is once again expected to be the largest coordinated “bioblitz” - an intensive, time-bound survey of species - in Australia’s history.
“The recent IPBES report on biodiversity makes it clear that we need to radically transform our approach to biodiversity conservation,” says Dr. Mallika Robinson, Director and Co-Founder of QuestaGame, the citizen science app which developed and has hosted the competition for the last four years.
“Thanks to all the partners involved, the Great Aussie BioQuest will collect and verify more biodiversity data in one month than many citizen science projects can hope to collect in years.”
As part of the Great Aussie BioQuest, scores go both toward individual performance and are grouped according to state or territory, which means participants can see how their state or territory compares against others.
This year $10,000 worth of cash and prizes will be distributed among organisations and players from the Australian state or territory which earns the most points during the competition.
“The great thing is that anyone in Australia, of any skill level, can participate at the same time,” says David Haynes, a co-founder of QuestaGame. “If you don’t know the name of what you find, the app will identify it for you.”
The BioQuest also rewards higher scores for more remarkable sightings, with scores being scaled according to season and location. So for example sightings in Melbourne during winter are likely to earn more points than in Cairns, where it’s warmer and more biodiversity is visible.
That said, last year’s winner was Queensland, followed by Western Australia and the Northern Territory.
”It really comes down to participation and effort,” says Robinson. “The competition is intense, but it’s a lot of fun too. You get to have fun, learn lots of things about what you find, and contribute to scientific research at the same time.”
The biodiversity data collected during the Great Aussie BioQuest contributes to national and international biodiversity databases for scientific research and conservation. Last year’s BioQuest generated over 20,000 sightings and identifications.
To be part of the BioQuest, participants simply download the free-to-play QuestaGame app, the world’s first outdoor biodiversity gaming app aimed at connecting players to nature and experts. The app is often called the “Pokémon GO of real life” and recently received Australia’s prestigious Eureka Prize.
“At the end of the day, the Great Aussie BioQuest is really about discovering Australia,” says Robinson. “Our players are seeing things few people in Australia ever notice.”
QuestaGame players have found some particularly high-scoring plants and animals, including species listed as endangered, or as invasive threats, as well as numerous undescribed or potentially new species. One player even had a new species of spider named after him.
In addition to empowering tens of thousands of players to discover, learn about and help map biodiversity, QuestaGame engages the expert communities of over 100 conservation groups in species identification. Through the Pays to Know Nature Program, people can raise money for their chosen conservation causes by providing correct identifications of the sightings being submitted by players.
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