“Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone” Joni Mitchell famously lamented at the very start of the modern environmental movement. In the half century since then, conservation efforts have made tremendous advances but there is still a lot we don’t know, particularly about the number of plant and animal species we actually have in any one area, which species are declining and how fast, and what we can do to conserve them. This knowledge is needed more urgently now than ever, given the mounting rate of species extirpation and extinction. It also needs to be shared as widely as possible: successful conservation depends not only scientists and conservationists, but critically on a strong base of public support -- people in general need to continue to be interested in the natural world and to place a high value on its preservation.
The mission of the North Carolina Biodiversity Project is to compile and share information on the state’s multitude of species. We aim to describe all of what we have in the way of the state’s crickets, moles, ferns, salamanders, moths, mosses, damselflies, and whatever else flies, slithers, bounds, swims, creeps, or grows within North Carolina. In addition to providing lists of all the species verified to occur in the state, we also collect and share data on their distributions, phenologies, habitat associations, and conservation statuses as they exist specifically in our state.
In order to make this information as widely available and as useful as possible, we present it in a series of freely available websites and checklists. Our portal website is located at http://nc-biodiversity.com/ , which includes information on both our group and our individual members. Its main function, however, is to provide a centralized set of links to our other, taxon-focused websites and checklists, as well as links to the websites of other groups that share our aims. From the Butterflies of North Carolina website originally created by Harry LeGrand and Tom Howard to the most recently added Orthoptera of North Carolina, we now have six websites up and running (some still works-in-progress). Checklists covering four additional taxonomic groups are also included and several more websites and lists are in the planning stages.
As outlined in our mission statement (see About the NCBP on our website), we hope to serve the interests of the scientific and conservation communities by providing as accurate and useful a set of records as possible. We also hope to enlist the general public as much as we can, both as a source of new information on species’ occurrences – several of our websites now allow online submission of records -- and as a critical base of support for conserving the state’s wondrous diversity of species and ecosystems. “Leave me the birds and the bees, Please”, as Joni Mitchell urged, but also the Venus Flytraps, Venus Flytrap Moths, Stygian Shadowdragons, Eastern Small-footed Bats, Rock-loving Coverts, Rock Gnome Lichens … the list is long!