iNaturalist & Biodiversity

Explore Nature's Diversity

Treasure hunts for rare plants, seed collecting that protects our botanical heritage, and iNaturalist projects that document the Garden’s biodiversity offer a wide variety of choices for participation in scientific research that supports the conservation of native plants. iNaturalist projects that contribute to understanding Garden biodiversity include flower-visiting insects, squirrels, amphibians and reptiles.


Use your smart phone as a field tool for science! From hikers to birders to beachcombers, the world is filled with naturalists. By taking photos and uploading them to iNaturalist, citizen scientists of all ages and abilities can record a wealth of information about nature. As the database grows, volunteers are producing a living record of life on Earth that scientists and land managers can use to monitor changes in biodiversity, and that anyone can use to learn more about nature. Observations can be taken anywhere outdoors. Over 320,000 people have made more than 3,290,000 observations of over 98,000 species – and counting! The Garden offers an annual training on using iNaturalist, but no need to wait; just sign up! See additional resources for iNaturalist projects.

Seeds of Success

Image of Carrizo Plain National Monument where seeds for Seeds of Success were collected taken by Heather SchneiderContribute to the national seed collection with the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden! The Seeds of Success program was developed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to collect wildland native seed for research, development, conservation, and ecosystem restoration. In addition to seed collections, we will also collect herbarium specimens and associated environmental data.

Opportunities to participate include a scouting trip to the Carrizo Plain during the spring bloom, a seed collection trip later in the season, and seed cleaning and/or herbarium specimen preparation in the lab. All trips will be led by an experienced botanist and include training in the field. This project is right for you if you want to contribute to a national program, enjoy being outside, can handle long field days in occasionally adverse conditions (e.g., hot temperatures and/or rugged terrain), or are eager to work in a an herbarium.

See the next Trip here

For additional information, please visit the Seeds of Success webpage.

CNPS Rare Plant Treasure Hunt

Image of Santa Ynez Mountains, an excellent location for rare plant treasure hunts taken by Heather SchneiderExplore California’s wild places while searching for rare plants! Have an adventure, helping botanists track down the historic locations of some of California’s most imperiled plants. For each “hunt,” we will choose a rare plant species to search for, and identify historic locations using herbarium records. We follow up with a field trip to search for locations of our chosen imperiled plant. The data we collect data will be shared with the California Native Plant Society Council (CNPS) to update the CNPS Rare and Endangered Plant Inventory, as well as the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to update the California Natural Diversity Database.

Rare Plant Treasure Hunt trips will be led by an experienced botanist and include training in the field. This project is right for you if you are interested in conservation, can hike for several hours in potentially adverse conditions (e.g., hot temperatures and/or rugged terrain) and are eager to explore California’s diverse plant communities.

See the next hunt here

To learn more about California’s unique flora and local rare plant treasure hunts, please join us for California Native Plant Society Channel Island Chapter meetings. 

Additional Resources

The Los Angeles Museum of Natural History hosts two iNaturalist projects that can contribute to understanding nature in the Garden

Reptiles and Amphibians of Southern California (RASCals)
     iNaturalist RASCals project

Southern California Squirrel Survey
     iNaturalist Squirrel Survey project