Researchers with the Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Centre in Sackville had a productive year, finding several new species throughout the Maritimes in 2011.  

Sean Blaney, the group's assistant director, said this was probably the centre's best year, in terms of the amount of data collected.  

"You never know for sure what's out there until you're out in the field," Blaney said.

"Often the rarer species are kind of obscure and hard to find. Sometimes they're not as rare as was believed. It just takes a practised eye and a specific effort to find them."  

During the 2011 survey, naturalists observed several new species not seen in the region before, including two species of dragonfly, a species of butterfly and three new plant species.  

Blaney said one of those new plant species, the maleberry was found in Yarmouth County, N.S.   

The plant has never been seen in Canada before and described as a coastal plain shrub that's a member of the blueberry family but doesn't produce edible fruit. Blaney says these sorts of finds help build a picture of what the region is made of.  

"If we don't know anything about it, we don't even know what we're losing when we develop land for human use," he said.

"So we're working hard to understand what's out there so we can make the best decisions about land use through the future."

Blaney and the centre's researchers are back in the field this summer to expand on their data.