During this tough isolation period, many people are stuck at home searching each day for something that can captivate and keep yourself busy. This hasn’t differed for three University of Queensland (UQ) scientists have started a new online challenge to get us more acquainted with our (very) local wildlife. The #StayHomeBiodiversityChallenge is the brainchild of housemates Dr Russell Yong, Dr Andrew Rogers and Dr Matthew Holden – a UQ taxonomist, ecologist, and mathematician.

The scientists are hoping people around the world will take notice of the species that live in their homes and backyards, tweeting their findings and photos with the hashtag #StayHomeBiodiversityChallenge. “It all started when I was cleaning my room out of sheer boredom at the beginning of this ‘new normal’ – lockdown,” biodiversity researcher Dr Rogers said. “I was trying to move all the spiders outside, instead of vacuuming them up, and I had to move a lot of spiders. I wondered how many spiders I share the house with, quickly followed by wondering how many moths, flies, butterflies, reptiles and plants share the house with us all.”

Housemate and taxonomist Russell Yong was quick to get involved. “I’m a career taxonomist in the UQ Marine Parasitology Lab, so I’ve always been one for counting and cataloguing species around me, so when Andrew and Matt suggested we do this, I was on board,” Dr Yong said. “We live on an average-sized property in the thick of inner-Brisbane suburbia, but importantly we do little to interfere with the environment in our yard – no spraying, extensive lopping, or slashing etc. As such, our overall species richness has always been noticeably high, compared to the surrounding neighbourhood and most of inner suburban Brisbane.”

This is a great project for people of all ages who are searching for tasks during this period of time. Use the hashtag #StayHomeBiodiversityChallenge to keep up to date with those all around the world.

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