Lockdown has impacted all of us, but that has not stopped citizen scientists from biomapping! We have been overwhelmed by the determination and enthusiasm shown by citizen scientists across the country and continent. Biodiversity data has poured into the Virtual Museum as biomappers refuse to let their love and passion for nature wane in the face of lockdown. We will be sharing some of their stories over the next while…
Please tell us a bit about yourself, and why do you love biomapping?
I am a Conservation Biologist, my goal in life is to advocate for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. I obtained my BSc in Zoology from Bayero University Kano (Nigeria) and my MSc in Biodiversity Conservation from the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. After my masters study on birds, I continued to do research on birds. That changed in 2017 when I started biomapping, and my focus started shifting to other kinds of creatures. I love contributing to the Virtual Museum projects cataloging organisms, especially butterflies, dragonflies, amphibians, and reptiles. Broadly, my research now focuses on citizen science projects and pressing conservation issues, including urbanization and biodiversity conservation, protected areas, and zoonotic diseases. I am deeply involved in the Nigeria Bird Atlas Project (NiBAP), where I am serving as the Secretary of the Arewa (northern Nigeria) Atlas Team.
As a varsity lecturer, I teach courses on biodiversity and conservation, biogeography, animal diversity, and wildlife ecology and conservation. In 2019, I was among the 17-member committee (Technical Working Group) selected by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development for the Development and Implementation of Wildlife Disease Surveillance System in Nigeria (REDISSE Project). In 2019, I served as the Secretary, Local Organizing Committee for the 6th Nigeria Tropical Biology Association conference. I Co-founded the Federal University Dutse Conservation Society and serving as its Secretary. I have a keen interest in trying to promote biodiversity conservation and impact, sensu stricto, in Nigeria. To help with all of this I initiated the Nigerian Wildlife and Nature Photography Facebook group to improve local knowledge and awareness about Nigerian biodiversity.
I love biomapping in light of the fact that it is fun and exciting. What I love most about it is that it gives me the chance to connect; map and share records with other people and possibly contribute to knowledge about Nigerian biota. Throughout the years, biomapping has fortified my biodiversity identification skills. In the last three years of my biomapping, I have snapped and mapped over 1000 records on the Virtual Museum, including important discoveries: range extensions in House Sparrow Passer domesticus, Grey-backed Fiscal Lanius excubitoroides, and leucism in Long-tailed Glossy Starling Lamprotornis caudatus (see photo below).
What has your experience been during lockdown and has biomapping helped you in any way to cope with these new challenges we face?
Well, my experience in biomapping in this worldwide pandemic and lockdown has not been the same, since it restricts my movement. Nevertheless, it aides and offers the chance to search within the immediate environment, especially inside our homes (that we share with many little creatures, such as insects and spiders), backyard, and along the roadside.
Where have you been biomapping during lockdown and what has the experience been like for you?
I have been biomapping around the pentad located near my home and the University. It is not generally an awful experience, as well, since I am able to snap and map a couple of species that I have not mapped in the last three years of biomapping in Nigeria.
Have you learnt anything new?
Indeed! I had the opportunity to get familiar with certain things on the different Virtual Museum projects, for example, how to produce range and distribution maps. Presently, because of lockdown, I am investing more of my time in investigating the Virtual Museum site and reviewing my records.
Anything interesting finds during your lockdown biomapping adventures?
Yes, I had the chance to map critters, some for the first time like a Bush Snake and a Wall Crab Spider (Subfamily Selenopidae). Northern Carmine Bee-eater, Rhinoceros Beetle, Grey-headed Kingfisher, Crowned Bullfrog, White-throated Bee-eater, and Broad Scarlet are also mapped. Plants, as well, were mapped, including Adansonia digitata, Ziziphus spina-christ, and Calotropis procera just to mention few!