05 de noviembre de 2023

iNaturalist introduction for JRMN

draft outline. working notes:

1) What is iNaturalist?

iNaturalist is a crowdsourced nature journal designed to encourage appreciation of the natural world. Users post observations of an individual organism at a particular time and place -- sometimes with no evidence, sometimes with pictures, sometimes with sounds. Sometimes these organisms are domesticated, and should be marked "captive/cultivated", but generally these observations reflect the self-propagating natural world. Other users help ID these species in terms of biological nomenclature, which in turn reflects evolutionary relationships. If two or more users reach consensus on a precise ID, it becomes "research grade". This should be taken with a grain of salt: iNaturalist observations are primarily about our interactions with nature, not about research, and researchers must take care to account for many biases in what gets reported. My favorite thing about iNaturalist is that it's a great way to record and learn about the species I interact with in my life.

There are many tutorials out there (as well as the FAQ, but to give them some form, I'm going to try to cover a few major use cases below.

2) Exploring before you go

One great way to use iNaturalist is before you even go outside at all. If you're going on a trip to a new place -- or even a walk around the block -- what kinds of things can you keep an eye out for? The "Explore" tool is a powerful way to view different kinds of observations in your area of interest. Here are a few use cases:

3) In the Field

iNaturalist is not the easiest app to use in the field, in that it requires internet connectivity to function at its best. I usually take geotagged photos and upload them later on my desktop. But I use its sibling app "Seek" regularly in the field: Seek is quite limited, but doesn't need internet and doesn't involve sharing information and hence has no privacy or poaching risks; it's particularly wonderful for kids and students. It's also really useful for learning things, because you can use the best learning method: guess-check-learn. Ask yourself "What is this thing and how do I know?", then use Seek to see what it can guesses based on an organism's appearance. It won't always be right, but it helps validate whether you're on the right track. This workflow is easiest for organisms you can get close to and investigate, especially plants and fungi. (If you aren't able to geotag or choose not to, you can set location manually later -- I recommend you be liberal with the accuracy field. Note that observations may not be visible in some views if their accuracy is greater than the distance to project boundaries.)

4) Logging observations

Once I get home, I like to upload my geotagged photos and try to ID them. There are a number of considerations here, including privacy, poaching, spamming, and general etiquette. Try to make your observations as meaningful as possible, and be gracious with the folks who try to help you make sense of them. With organisms that don't move much, it's often valuable to have multiple in-focus photos showing different views. Remember "an observation is an individual at a particular place/time": Ideally you'll combine all your photos of a given subject, and won't post observations where the subject is unclear without text specifying your interest. Feel free to be sociable, but also aware that some of the most expert identifiers look at hundreds of observations a day, and be respectful of their time. Also be aware that everyone makes mistakes , but that we're all here to share our love of nature.

5) Applying your expertise

As you get familiar with iNat, you'll find you're expertise in the natural world growing. You can help other individuals experience nature and help curate observations for research. What are the best ways to apply your knowledge at every skill level? (Trust me, you can contribute more than you know!)

  • Annotate observations. You might not know what butterfly or moth you're looking at -- but you can tell if it's an adult or a caterpillar! Similarly, you might not know what plant you're looking at, but you might know it's flowering. It's okay to make mistakes -- iNat has mechanisms to correct -- but do try to learn from those corrections!
  • If a species is unknown, and you have a rough guess, provide it! Even if it's just "vertebrates" or "birds" or "plants" or "bryophytes". This helps experts find it, and helps everyone navigate the deep roots of our family tree.
  • If no one has made a bold guess, make a bold guess (and feel free to use computer vision!)
  • If someone has made a guess (ESPECIALLY using computer vision) hang back -- how confident are you? Feel free to confirm IDs at a low level even if the guess was at a high level ("I'm sure it was Smilax, but not sure it was Smilax rotundifolia.")
  • Ask. It's always okay to ask how people guessed what they did. Be humble and helpful when folks ask you the same! Conversely, don't just agree with IDs blindly. If somebody convinced you, that's one thing, but you aren't required to "agree" just to be polite -- and in fact, it's better for you to think things through independently both for your own learning and for research purposes.
  • We're trying to make a nice guide-to-guides for how to ID things, but it's slow going (there are SO MANY kinds of things! :-D ) Feel free to help! id wiki

6) Advanced queries

Even if you're not a coder, iNaturalist has powerful search features for finding others' observations and for managing your own interactions with the site. They can be a little intimidating! You can do a lot with menu navigation, and even more if you're willing to hack the urls to do precisely what you want. I explain some standard tricks I use in this old post on search switches. I'll keep trying to make this better, so feel free to ask questions or tell me if something isn't working for you!

Publicado el noviembre 5, 2023 10:44 TARDE por schizoform schizoform | 3 comentarios | Deja un comentario

11 de agosto de 2020

01 de julio de 2020

Useful comments and search switches


URL switches I use often:

Locals to ID

  • Slow stuff (bacteria, slimes, plants, fungi; old-school 'botany')
  • Wugs (worms, bugs, etc)
  • Vertebrates (animals we relate to)

Near me & Unidentified

built from hacking the url, which combines different filters using an ampersand. e.g. say you're at latitude, longitude of 38.000 N and 78.000 W, and your username is schizoform with numeric user_id 1815672:

  • to-id list w/ delay and excluding my own obs: "page=2&place_id=any&not_user_id=1815672"
  • near me: "&lat=38.000&lng=-78.000&radius=25" (note the sign flip on longitude)
  • standard: "&subview=table&verifiable=any"
  • unknowns: "iconic_taxa=unknown"
  • unobserved: "&unobserved_by_user_id=schizoform"

things I IDed e.g. as Russula: "https://www.inaturalist.org/identifications?user_id=schizoform&taxon_id=48339" (which is a hot mess in north america)

things I commented: "https://www.inaturalist.org/comments?mine=true"

my stuff others had commented on: "https://www.inaturalist.org/comments?for_me=true"

things I probably got wrong: "https://www.inaturalist.org/identifications?user_id=schizoform&category=maverick" (substitute your own user_id)

...knowledge from those comments, albeit w/o adequate attribution:

Red algae are plants.
Green algae are also plants.
Blue-Green algae is bacteria.
Brown algae is chromista.

what is that thing by the ocean?

Russula vs Amanita: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/50831635
Jelly Ears in America: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/50426861 also cf https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/27241888
VA Blackberries vs Raspberries: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/49726469

...but just on p1 of 30!!!

Publicado el julio 1, 2020 01:08 MAÑANA por schizoform schizoform | 1 comentario | Deja un comentario

16 de septiembre de 2019

15 de septiembre de 2019

25 de julio de 2019

Blitzing Waterfront/South Riverwalk

So I got obsessed with Seek, then figured out how to add geotags to my 'fancy' photographs and started focusing on iNaturalist. I'm still not quite sure what etiquette is, or what's useful. But it seemed like one good strategy, as I try to teach myself things, would be to chose a place that's poorly documented (e.g. Waterfront Park) and document it as best I could. So I'll try that, today -- and please let me know if there's a way I could be doing this better or more usefully. Seems like the easiest way to link is like so...

Publicado el julio 25, 2019 01:32 MAÑANA por schizoform schizoform | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario