A new Australian species of spider has been named after Finding Nemo

Sustainability Sleuthing: Three Citizen Science Facebook Groups To Get You Started

Looking to justify time spent on-line? The good news is that if you are a bird, bug or plant fan, your searches in cyberspace can not only dig up interesting facts, they can also add to valuable scientific biodiversity knowledge as well through citizen science.

You can jump on-line, post an image and a few clicks later, be rewarded with information from passionate nature warriors like yourself.

Just this month a new peacock spider – named Maratus Nemo, after the clown fish in the animated Finding Nemo movie because of its distinctive orange face with white stripes – was discovered after pictures of the orange-faced spider were posted on a peacock spider appreciation Facebook page. Joseph Schubert, an arachnologist – a scientist who specialises in spiders – thought the images were unusual and further research discovered that indeed, a new species had been identified.

This is one example of how everyday citizen scientists and taxonomic specialists are creating important baseline data of species. We need this data to identify species’ conservation status.

Put some buzz into your content by following bees, birds and biodiversity conservation pages.

Facebook offers a plethora of online collaborative spaces for individuals to share their environmental interests.

By simply joining these groups, your newsfeed will be converted into a rich source of biodiversity information. You’ll learn from others ‘in the field’ and be amazed by what is out there! Very often, others will quickly identify a species you can’t place and will offer tips such as plants they like to frequent.

To help you navigate these sites, try these collaborative Facebook groups that discuss biodiversity issues and reward the user with incredible inside knowledge.

Bees in the burbs

Run by Kit Prendergast - a PhD student exploring what native bees inhabit urban areas in south-west Western Australia - this group is the perfect mix of scientific facts and bee identification. Having an academic as a moderator means that all content is proofed for factuality - she also shares some great resources. Having grown (with over 9.8K members), this group encompasses bees all over Australian suburbs. With photos shared daily, you’ll start to recognise different bee species each time you leave your house. If you're anything like me (before I started volunteering with PlantingSeeds) the amount of different native bee species will make your brain explode. Once you start getting excited about spotting a Blue Banded Bee or Tetragonula carbonaria, you can comfortably post images to the group. The group is super enthusiastic and supportive – you’ll you’ll find no negative comments here; just love for the tiny species that help our ecosystems flourish.

Birds in backyards (australia)

No matter where you live in Australia, there are, no doubt, birds in your life. From pigeons and ibises in the city, to lorikeets and the iconic kookaburras in surrounding suburbs, birds are everywhere, adapting to all landscapes Australia has to offer. Being such a prominent species (I can honestly say I’ve never not seen a bird a single day in my life), it just makes sense to learn more about our feathered friends. This page is run by Birdlife Australia and is filled with people helping to identify bird species and answer any behavioural questions. This group is sure to fill your newsfeed with lots of colours - boasting pictures of the prettiest birds Australia has to offer. It will also help you learn to identify any bird you pass on your daily activities.

Crazy indoor plant people australia (c.i.p.p.a)

If you’ve ever owned an indoor plant, you know it's impossible to have just one. You also know that feeling of complete and utter joy when your plant grows a new leaf. And you’re not alone, this group has 143.2K individuals crazy about indoor plants. If you’ve owned an indoor plant, you also know that they can be very difficult to keep alive - drooping at the slightest inconvenience (or just because they can – they are the ultimate moody teenager). This is the biggest and best plant parent support group you could ask for. Have you picked a plant off the side of the street and need help identifying it – no problem, someone can tell you the species and how to best look after it! If your plant is just not as perky as it should be… C.I.P.P.A has you covered with someone in the group bound to have had the same issue and more than happy to pass on that trick to save your plant.