Long-term surveys of limited area (yards, gardens, properties)

I suggested to @tiwane that he might interview iNaturalists who are doing long-term surveys of a limited area, like a yard/garden or property.
Can anyone please suggest observers or projects with significant numbers of species seen over the course of several years, in a limited area, please?
I’ve been doing a yard survey since 2020, on 3/4 acre. I’m sure there must be others?


We have a project in Southern Africa with quite a few observers fine combing their gardens.


have you read “monitoring gardens” topic? The conversations there sound exactly like what you are describing and some people have pretty good numbers.


I assume most naturalists that have a garden/yard will inevitably do this. People spend lots of time there and they probably always have a camera close by in case of an emergency such as a really cool insect appearing… :D

I have been observing wildlife in my parents’ garden and my grandparents’ garden (I sadly don’t have my own) since 2021 and have observed 646 species in the former (300m² maybe?), and 173 in the latter (a bit bigger, but less nature friendly)


I would assume most long-term users have monitored their yard. Mine has 2819 species so far. Of course, my yard is 154 acres.


Wow. 2,819 species! That’s a bundle! We’re only at 735 species (https://inaturalist.nz/projects/house-garden-of-123a-dyers-pass-road-nz). It’s a much smaller property though.


I have my Duck River survey from Sydney

Link to preprint paper
Link to iNat project

from 2020 to present, 2,069 species recorded thus far from ~25 ha (~62 acres)


I live in an urban biodiversity hotspot in Austin, Texas, with a natural creek at my back lot line:
Although the polygon for the “Salton Drive area” encompasses about 33 acres at present, probably 99% of all observations and species have been documented on my 0.4-acre residential lot–currently sitting at 2,070 species. About 60% of all 18,700 observations are of butterflies and moths in the yard, mostly from my long-term studies of moths (11,023 observations, 737 species). We have lived here for 22 years and the earliest observations I’ve uploaded so far are from twenty years ago (2004). I still have many slides to scan and upload.


@aganse has organized a project for Korean Minjok Leadership Academy, a school in South Korea:


Probably larger than the typical garden or yard, but the project was started in 2017 and has seen records steadily added to it since then and currently contains 27,384 observations.


This got me curious so I just checked out all of the observations from the apartment I’ve been in the last ~4-5 years. Over a thousand observations, 443 species, basically all limited to my back porch and the parking lot. Plus whatever inevitably manages to get inside.


I’ve been observing things around my backyard and woods for a few years now and am at over 10,000 observations with 1,200 species ( Observations · iNaturalist). This project may also be a good one to look at.


I’ve observed 479 species (more if everything was was Identified) on my houses property which is roughly 230m² (0.000247105 acres) https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?nelat=-41.21357930511171&nelng=174.80243325365234&place_id=any&subview=map&swlat=-41.21376392579844&swlng=174.8021744204824&user_id=benjansss&verifiable=any


I make a lot of observations in the woods where I live. This includes my property, the adjacent Land Trust land, Audubon land, State owned land, and neighbors wood lots. The valley and fault lines are a few miles long, and a few miles across. The point is to see what’s there, and make a record of it.

Along the way, I have improved my skills at noticing both the familiar and the unusual. It’s not about high numbers or what’s unique, I care about everything and what’s normal right now. Normal is changing. In my time here, 58 years, I have seen some species decline, and others move in. Recording the environment is my way of being here now, seeing what is there, and stopping thinking about work or the news.

Going back and seeing the same places over and over allows me to notice what is here, and watch the forest as it changes. Climbing on the fault lines down to the brook always turns up something fascinating, even if I have been walking that way since 1966. I have been given an opportunity to see a place by being there so much, and I want to share that with people in the future.

Eventually the splotchy mosaic of detailed recording in specific areas on iNaturalist will turn into a carpet of data that people in the future can use in ways we have not thought of.


How ‘limited’? We are up to 1,854 species on a 55 acre property. Over 800 of those are within the immediate periphery of the house.

Several years ago, I started using a UV light on the lower porch, and that has boosted the number of insect species observed around the house to 565.

There are significant benefits to observing the same location over and over: it provides a better understanding of seasonal and climate variation, it delineates habit preferences (or the lack thereof), and it improves the odds of finding elusive species that are usually not easily visible.



I’m presently at 1,500 species in 13 acres, but even though I live in the woods there is a stark lack of plants because I have previously been afraid of posting extremely common plants and trees.

I’m only at ~270 species in mine. Of course I don’t submit most of the plants because most of them are cultivated (there’s some sort of vetch and the hedge parsley and crepe myrtle runners I fight against though).

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I submit cultivated plants if they are being used by insects or other critters - I link the observations via the “Reference URL” observation field, also “Name of Associated Plant”. I’m interested in the connections between organisms, and this documents them. And I figure there might be researchers that are also interested in use of cultivated plants by pollinators, herbivores, leafminers, etc.

BTW, I’m up to 1504 species and ~6200 observations in my yard. Over half of them are moths drawn to the porch lights - it’s interesting to trace the connections between caterpillar food plants and the dominant plants, especially the trees. The black locust trees (Robinia pseudoacacia) are not considered native here in the northeastern USA, but they were native before the last pulse of glaciers; for some reason they didn’t migrate back here with the other trees (or are still working on it.) Anyway, a significant percentage of the moths here have caterpillars that feed on them.

OTOH, I counted up the moth species that feed on the invasive eurasian honeysuckles that are everywhere - only ~5 feed on them, and they are also non-native.


I don’t get a ton of moths in my yard for some reason. I’ve tried, even with blacklights, and just don’t get them. But I’m on a small yard in urban Dallas so maybe that’s why

Great idea, Becks!

I thought that iNaturalist already had a video about that, but I was actually thinking of the video linked in this post:


WRT number of species, you might be the winner!

What is the species record for a backyard project? (iNat Forum post)

“Home Projects Umbrella” on iNaturalist

(This link to “Home Projects Umbrella” was already posted in this thread by @tcriley, but I’m reposting it to increase its visibility, because it only received 3 clicks)


What did Tony say? Is he going to interview you for YouTube?

The “Home Projects Umbrella” is great, though I suspect it only includes a tiny portion of the users who are engaged in surveys of their yard/property in some form or another.

Searching projects for the keyword “home” suggests there are lots more. Some may not be aware of the umbrella project. There may be others, like me, who have chosen not to have our projects added there, and I’m pretty sure that there are people who are keeping personal lists but haven’t created an iNat project for them for one reason or another.