18 Jun 2016

LA wildlife survey

From This Way Up, 12:15 pm on 18 June 2016

A huge citizen science project in Los Angeles is uncovering unknown species and the full diversity of the city's wildlife.

Los Angeles is the second largest city in the US, sprawling over 1,300km2 and home to millions of people. Its traffic takes some beating, too - as the city boasts one of the worst rush hour periods in the world! But LA is also home to a surprisingly varied animal population, and thanks to the efforts of an army of citizen scientists this is becoming even more diverse.

"We think about rainforests and tropical places as where we might find undescribed species and where there's unknown diversity, and yet we find it  in the most mundane of places we can imagine; backyards in the city" - Brian Brown

The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County has launched what has been described as "the largest urban biodiversity study in the world". It's called the Urban Nature Research Center and it's trying to get city residents to record the fauna fluttering, slithering and crawling in their own backyards.

So far people have discovered over 43 new species of fly and a whole host of reptiles, amphibians, spiders and slugs that have never been seen before in California. Brian Brown is a curator of the Entomology Section of the LA Natural History Museum.

He tells This Way Up's Simon Morton that a similar approach could easily be followed anywhere in the world.