Inaugural National Biodiversity Championship kicks off in Louisville, Kentucky

ESA Annual Meeting 2019 Logo.104th Annual Meeting: Bridging Communities and Ecosystems: Inclusion as an Ecological Imperative


August 7, 2019
For Immediate Release

Contact: Zoe Gentes, 202-833-8773 ext. 211, gro.asenull@setnegz
Louisville on-site press room: 502-901-6750


The first National Biodiversity Championship will be conducted this year in Louisville, Kentucky, August 11 – August 14, concurrent with the 2019 Annual Meeting for the Ecological Society of America. It is organized by ESA’s Natural History Section, who is calling on all observers, naturalists, and scientists to join the competition.

“Every year, the best naturalists and ecologists from around the world travel to amazing places for scientific meetings, and not many get outside to enjoy the locations,” says Seabird McKeon, Special Initiatives Coordinator for the Natural History Section, host of The Naturalist Podcast, and researcher with the University of Central Florida and the Smithsonian Institution. “The championship creates an opportunity for world-class scientists to engage with local experts, students, and flora and fauna through a friendly competition and citizen science exercise to see which team can document the most biodiversity.”

McKeon adds, “If you know your backyard, want to learn about your school garden, or are ready to explore the local park or river, your expertise could make you a 2019 National Biodiversity Champion!”

The championship is a competitive team-based BioBlitz – an event that focuses on finding and identifying as many species of plants and animals as possible in a specific area over a short period of time. In a BioBlitz, scientists, families, students, teachers, and other community members work together to get a snapshot of an area’s biodiversity, engaging the public to connect to their environment while generating useful data for science and conservation. They are also an excuse for enthused people to meet in person in the great outdoors. BioBlitzes can happen in almost any geography—urban, rural, or suburban—in areas as small as a backyard or as large as a country.

An Orangefin Darter fish (Etheostoma bellum), native to Kentucky, rests in a stream. Photo courtesy of US Fish and Wildlife Service.

McKeon is excited to see the multitude of organisms that people will find. “It is a great time of year to be looking for biodiversity,” he states. “The bird migration is just starting, dragonflies are above every pond, and flowers are in bloom. I hope the teams find some of Kentucky’s amazing endemic species – organisms not found anywhere else – like the Orangefin Darter or the Bottlebrush Crayfish. The best way to do that is to get to know the naturalists and protected places of Kentucky.”

BioBlitz participants participate in citizen science by documenting and sharing findings through Smartphone technologies and apps such as iNaturalist make collecting photos and biological information about living things easy. Data uploaded to iNaturalist become part of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, an open source database used by scientists and policy makers around the world.

The idea for the team-based BioBlitz competition grew out of McKeon’s field trips and adventures with like-minded people deeply interested in biodiversity and natural history. “We would frequently say ‘You Win!’ when someone found an amazing beetle or a glorious moss,” he says. “Now with the iNaturalist platform and everyone carrying a cell phone camera, we can take that same playful sense of competition and wonder to the next level with the championship.”

The championship will be conducted within a 100-mile radius of Louisville, and an award ceremony will be held at the Natural History Section mixer, 6:30 PM, August 14, at the Kentucky International Convention Center. Prizes and fame are promised to those found worthy of the title “National Biodiversity Champions.”

To sign up a team or learn more about the competition, visit the website for the National Biodiversity Championship.



2019 Annual Meeting in Louisville, Kentucky
Bridging Communities and Ecosystems: Inclusion as an Ecological Imperative
11-16 August 2019

Ecologists from 50 U.S. states, U.S. territories, and countries around the world will converge on Louisville, Kentucky this August for the 104th Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America. Up to 3,000 attendees are expected to gather for thousands of scientific presentations on breaking research and new ecological concepts at the Kentucky International Convention Center, August 11-16, 2019.

In the spirit of collaboration, inclusion and cross-disciplinary science, the Ecological Society of America will be holding its 104th Annual Meeting in partnership with the United States Society for Ecological Economics (USSEE), one of many regional professional organizations within the umbrella society of the International Society for Ecological Economics (ISEE).

The Opening Plenary features Karen Warkentin, professor in the Biology Department and the Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies Program at Boston University, who will speak about, “All the variations matter: bridging disciplines and communities to study diversity in life history and sexual behavior.” The event is free and open to the general public.

ESA invites press and institutional public information officers to attend for free. To apply, please contact ESA Public Information Manager Zoe Gentes directly at gro.asenull@setnegz. Walk-in registration will be available during the meeting.



The Ecological Society of America, founded in 1915, is the worlds largest community of professional ecologists and a trusted source of ecological knowledge, committed to advancing the understanding of life on Earth. The 9,000 member Society publishes five journals and a membership bulletin and broadly shares ecological information through policy, media outreach, and education initiatives. The Society’s Annual Meeting attracts 3,000 – 4,000 attendees and features the most recent advances in ecological science. Visit the ESA website at