University of Helsinki: Campus Biodiversity Survey

The University of Helsinki is starting to assess biodiversity values on its campuses. As part of this survey work, species surveys will be conducted on the four campuses: city centre, Kumpula, Meilahti, and Viikki. Surveys will be conducted on four different species groups: birds, flowering plants, butterflies, and bumblebees in hectare squares (see Figure 1). Anyone knowledgeable about species can participate. Detailed instructions can be found below.

(Instructions in Finnish are here).

Figure 1. Kumpula Campus area divided into hectare survey squares.

How to Participate? Quick Guide:

  • The survey is conducted within hectare (100 m x 100 m) squares. Maps and instructions for the squares can be downloaded here: city centre campus, Kumpula, Meilahti, Viikki south, and Viikki north. Print the map to take with you in the field so you know which square you are in. The squares are numbered.
  • Surveys are conducted using the Nature Notebook’ app (Mobiilivihko), available for both Android and iPhone. Download the app before conducting the survey.
  • The Nature Notebook app includes ‘Complete lists’: ‘Bird Atlas’ (birds), ‘Butterflies’, ‘Large Flowers’, and ‘Bumblebees’. Choose the species group you want to survey from these options. The best survey time is from May to July (birds in the mornings from May to June). Observe insects during the day, preferably in sunny weather.
  • The app records the start time of the survey and the route you have taken, which is displayed on the map. The app provides a species list for your chosen species group, from which you should select the species you observe. For birds, bumblebees, and butterflies, you can also indicate the number observed. For plants, select the life stage category: ‘sprout’, ‘flower’, or ‘seed/spore/fruit’.
  • Go to the square you have chosen to survey, turn on the Nature Notebook app, and open the desired species list. The app will automatically record the start time. Try to stay within the surveyed square and spend at least 15 minutes surveying. The recommended time is 30 minutes. You can survey one square, for example, during your lunch break or before starting work.
  • Select from the species list those species you observed within the square. If you observe other species outside the square (such as a singing bird or a flying butterfly), you can mark their location on the map by pressing the species’ location on the map. This will bring up a menu where you can add the species observation. The advantage of complete lists is that they also collect information on the species you did not observe from the list, known as zero observations.
  • When you are finished, press the Stop button. The system will automatically record the end time.
  • Ensure that the completeness of the species list is marked (option B), and add any necessary information such as location name and the code of the surveyed square, which can be found on the map. Send the list either as a draft or, if you are ready, directly as public.
  • Complete lists can be filled out for different species groups elsewhere in Finland. More information on filling out lists can be found here (in Finnish).
  • Important! Please be mindful of local movement restrictions, such as private, cultivated or protected areas. Especially, if you are doing the survey Viikki, remember that walking on fields or protected areas is prohibited.