June 26, 2020
Is This You?
“I want to find out more about the plants and animals I encounter…”
…but it’s so overwhelming! Just look how many different kinds there are, and they’re so similar!
…but guidebooks are too hard to use, and I never have them with me when I need them.
…and sometimes I just don’t “get” science.
What’s a phenotype? What genus is it in? How am I supposed to remember all of those scientific names? Where do I even start??
If this resonates with you, then it might be time to check out iNaturalist.
iNaturalist Introductory video: https://vimeo.com/157341038
iNaturalist is a social network of over 2.7 million people (as of June 2020) sharing observations, and recording biodiversity across the world. It was coordinated by the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society with the purpose of allowing everyday people to learn about and contribute to the knowledge of the biodiversity all around us. From their website, “our primary goal in operating iNaturalist is to connect people to nature, and by that we mean getting people to feel that the non-human world has personal significance, and is worth protecting.”
If you have access to a smart phone or similar device, or even just a camera and the internet, you have all of the tools you need to join in and become a community scientist. All you do is take a photo of the plant or animal and the software will help you narrow down what species you’re looking at. You then post it to the web, and experts and other members of the community will help confirm the identification. Once it’s identified, it can be added to a number of research projects and TADA – you’ve contributed to science!
If this sounds intriguing to you, you can download iNaturalist from your app store or sign up for an account here: https://www.inaturalist.org/signup
For even more incentive to get out and start exploring with this app, check out this project by the Lower Hudson Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISM):
Their “Invasives Strike Force EcoQuest Challenge 2020” is an opportunity to learn about two new species every month, and to help them track invasive species in the Hudson Valley!
And stay tuned, because in the near future the Wallkill Valley Land Trust will be rolling out some projects of our own via iNaturalist. Join us!
Seek: an even more kid-friendly iNaturalist
Seek introductory video: https://vimeo.com/328588355
If you like the idea of iNaturalist but want an app that you can use easily with your whole family, check out Seek by iNaturalist. This program uses information from observations on iNaturalist to identify plants and animals as you focus your phone camera on them. Users can level up and earn a number of badges by making observations, adding another dimension to the fun. Seek has been described as “Pokemon Go” for nature, so get the whole family engaged and having fun while learning about biodiversity!
You can download Seek at your app store.