BioBlitz Name Alternatives?

The “Synonyms for naturalist” thread got me re-thinking about a conversation I had with some colleagues. These colleagues are/were software engineers, data network engineers, and project managers at a tech company. I’d given a nature related “lightning talk” as part of a series to help us get to know each other and our interests outside of work.

In a discussion afterwards I mentioned an upcoming BioBlitz. I described what it was, but even then this group was still turned off by the name. To them, it sounded some combination of “boring biology lab” or “dirty/gross” (I think they were thinking dissection, or reproductive biology from what I could tell). One European colleague had negative reactions to the “Blitz” part, thinking it was an invasive activity. My take-away was that the name is not at all intuitive, and perhaps even dissuades some people.

So, what do you all think about the term “BioBlitz”? Like it? Dislike it? Have you experimented with alternative names? Do we need to get a creative marketer to do some consumer trials of alternative names? :smiley:


I agree. When I first heard it I assumed it meant a widescale herbicide and rodenticide assault in an area, as spraying, injecting and painting on of herbicides, and poisoning of invasive rodents and possums, are the main responses (yes! Really! ) in NZ to environmental degradation through invasive species, which are decimating our wildlife and native habitats.

When it was explained to me what it was, I liked the idea in a way but was still wary of the idea of large numbers of people disturbing vegetation, trampling etc.

I think the name blitz is negative, associated with cleaning, getting rid of unwanted things (and as an expatriate from London, England I associate that word primarily with bombing of houses).


While I think the term is fine I have always found that “BioBlitz” does require some extra explanation and in the end is not particularly descriptive. I prefer BioSurvey or Biodiversity Survey which is a better descriptor in my opinion.


In my Master Naturalist group, I am finding some people have a real dislike for the term because it sounds so technical and intimidating. I would love to hear alternative names! In the meantime, I am using “species survey.”


Reasonable thoughts. I have had questionable looks when I have told friends I am going on a BirdBlitz. Especially when they know I like birds - not so questionable with the rod and gun crowd.

Lately when looking for pollinators instead of confusing friends and neighbours by saying I am Beeing, I tell them I am Bee Browsing. I still get questionable looks but not for as long.


Haha, “beeing”. Sounds like some level of enlightenment, which I suppose is ultimately true.


I’m glad you brought this up. I agree with the confusion around BioBlitz; and that it may not sound like a good time to many. It sounds like one tears through a site at a tremendous speed, which is the opposite of how bioblitzes seem to be.

But, it’s hard to come up with a good name. “Bio or Nature Survey” sounds dry and formal.
“Bio or Nature Exploration” sounds ? What? A tad juvenile?
“Bio or Nature Discovery ( survey)” is a little better, but still sounds a bit juvenile.

“Citizen Science Look a about” is too long, but otherwise interesting.


I personally don’t care either way, but agree the word can seem confusing…when I think ‘blitz’, it sounds like ‘blitzkrieg’…it sounds like participants are moving at breakneck speed, trying to be productive, but really resulting in a mass of blurry observations and leaving behind a trail of chaos and destruction. Either that or its some sort of combined extreme sports / nature photography event and turns off people who don’t want to run themselves ragged on a Sunday afternoon.

Back when I took groups of kids on insect-spotting field trips, before iNat existed, we called the trips ‘nature rambles’. That might have better connotations.



Synonyms for blitz…yep, the person that coined that name should have looked at the meaning of the word!


One member of our team refers to these events as “BioQuest.” I don’t really care one way or another but if you’re listing alternate terms, there’s one.


Just a bit of historical context.

It’s not a term invented by iNaturalist staff. It’s a well established term and activity. The first official BioBlitz (by that name) was held in 1996 by the US Park Service and it’s been a staple tool in biological surveys ever since, in a wide range of countries, many of them European countries.

Credit for the term is given to Susan Rudy a Park Service naturalist.

And @simono yes, the “blitz” portion is associated with Blitzkrieg in that both use “blitz” meaning “lightning” and often used as a synonym for “fast”, and @teellbee, yes, it is intended to be a rapid, speedy survey of an area. Even the slowest BioBlitzes are ridiculously fast compared to normal biological surveys.

In all honesty, in the 25 years BioBlitz has been a term this is literally the first time I’ve ever heard of any controversy or confusion over the name.


Thanks, though where I was taking kids for nature rambles was neither in the US nor UK, and the internet wasn’t a thing back then so we really never knew of the term. In hindsight, they made a lot of observations that would be very valuable on a platform like this one. I only read of the term ‘blitzkrieg’ when learning about WW2 in school.

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Susan Rudy, the US Park Service naturalist who is credited with coining the term, didn’t just pull it out of the air, she chose it intentionally with a clear understanding of the meaning.

Blitz means “lightning” and the term was chosen because of the connotations with fast, think “lightning rounds” in game shows.

Yes, the word also has a historical aspect to it from WWII, but in and of itself it just means “lightning” and is in widespread use without any WWII implications. Context is key when it comes to things like that.

No-one suggests that we stop using the word “atomic” or “nuclear” because nuclear and atomic bombs have been used in warfare.


By the way I love the term “nature ramble” for a field trip. Sounds very British but i wish we used the term in the US.


While the rate of observations per unit time might be lightning fast, I do wish there was a term that implied less physical speed when making them - a person lingering to photograph 12 insects on one tree generates as much valuable data as 12 insects over 12 kilometres. Anyway, its no issue to me as a simple reading of what it entails clarifies things.

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Yes, but that’s irrelevant to the “BioBlitz” portion. The point of the exercise is to collect observations in a short period of time within a specified area. How the individuals go about that is up to them. On person may spend the entire time in one spot meticulously cataloging every species they find within arm’s reach, while another person prefers to go from spot to spot.

Both approaches are equally valued in a BioBlitz and there is no assumption or requirement that people run about like coked out jackrabbits. All that’s important for the exercise is collecting observations, whoever it’s done and whatever strategy individuals use.

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If I have picked up one thing from the last year, being in 2020, as it were, we have been doing it for x years and nobody mentioned it before ⋠ we should continue doing it. We have a few things to think about going forward.


Yes, and one of the things to think about in that is if a change in something is actually necessary or if it’s just a change for the sake of making a change, as well as what the consequences of said change would be.

In the case of changing the name of something as harmless as “BioBlitz” all it really does is add confusion and complication as it’s a well established and widely used term that is internationally recognized. It won’t be changing any time in the foreseeable future and introducing another term just adds unnecessary confusion.

It’s a bit like each electronics company coming up with their own proprietary charging/data transfer cable.


I suppose “widely used” is relative, or at least distinct from “widely understood”. I’m looking at this from a standpoint of getting people interested who don’t pay a lot of attention to nature. I’m pretty sure that 9/10 of those I work with have no idea what it means, and if they guessed, they’d be way off. Same goes for my extended family. Maybe my experience is not reflective of others.


9/10 people not generally interested in nature will have difficulty with an enormous range of the terms in common usage by people involved, even casually, in nature based activities. Common terms like “ecosystem” and “home range” give people trouble, let alone ones like “ecotone”, and when it comes to sorting out the difference between “fen”, “bog”, “mire”, “marsh”, “swamp”, and “wetland” the overwhelming assumption by the average person is that they are all just different words for the same thing, which they are manifestly not.

Take a look at the BioBlitz wiki page to get a sense of just how widely used the term and activity is across the world.