Marylan dBiodiversity 1

Bill Hubick photographs a lichen, a symbiotic community of algae and a fungus, on a tree trunk. Even the least charismatic of organisms are cataloged in the Maryland Biodiversity Project. (Photo by Jay R. Thompson For The Baltimore Sun / August 2, 2013)

Pasadena resident Bill Hubick and Jim Brighton of Easton stand on a wooden overlook at the edge of a shallow pond at Wooten's Landing Park in the Harwood area of southern Anne Arundel.

It's silent, except for animals. On a whim, Brighton asks Hubick to name every creature he can hear.

After a brief silence, Hubick begins: "Carolina wren, Carolina chickadee, white-breasted nuthatch, green frog, Acadian flycatcher, white-eyed vireo …"

It's a moment of levity, but one that illustrates how immersed Hubick, 36, and Brighton, 42, are in their mission.

In June 2012 the two naturalists launched the Maryland Biodiversity Project, a hobby and labor of love that they say aims to catalog examples of every living thing in Maryland on one website:

In just over a year the project has accumulated more than 7,700 photos of 3,600-plus species, with a total of more than 92,000 records overall. New entries are added almost daily, and more than 150 volunteer photographers contribute. Just last week, Annapolis Mayor Josh Cohen added a photo of a Megarhyssa greenei, a type of wasp.

As they walk through Wooten's Landing, Brighton writes down and photographs plant and fungus species, while Hubick notes the animals. When they go home, they'll upload photos and record locations and dates of what they've seen.

They don't claim to be all-knowing. Just curious.

"If you point at a mushroom, chances are I'm not going to know what it is," Brighton said.

But they photograph unfamiliar plants and creatures and identify them later through research or by asking professionals for help.

One of those professionals is Wesley Knapp, a botanist and ecologist for the Wildlife and Heritage Service, part of Maryland's Department of Natural Resources tasked with determining how rare the state's rarest species are.

Knapp says the work Hubick and Brighton are doing is important, and perhaps the first-ever attempt to catalog every species in an entire state.

"No one is doing what they're doing — everything is in one place," he said.

Matt Tillet, a naturalist at New Germany State Park in Garrett County, agrees. "The scale, scope and level of participation are enormous," he said.

Tillet said he uses the Maryland Biodiversity Project website to help him with identification challenges. When leading hikes and natural history programs, he tells guests about the site, calling it "a tremendous resource for further information on Maryland wildlife."

Tillet said the site is good because it "relies on a network of professional naturalists to verify observations through peer review. This accountability increases the legitimacy and reliability of the project as a citable resource."

Anne Arundel's Wooten's Landing Park is one of the team's prime scouting locations — basically a looped path running through a one-square-mile swamp, where planners had the foresight to construct a nine-car parking lot for people who love mosquitoes.

But those pests help maintain the park as a rich habitat. Simply put, they are food for other animals, which are food for still others, which die and enrich soil, aiding plant life and habitat for even more creatures. Hubick and Brighton regularly visit the park for its mix of microhabitats, from the Patuxent River to the wetlands, fields and wooded edges.

"There are a number of species that we've rarely encountered elsewhere," Hubick said.

But it's just one of many spots the two frequent.