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An Illinois River Almanac

Jason Haupt's Energy and Environment Blog

Tech Tuesday: iNaturalist

As the weather begins to be nice again, well at least it is starting to warm up, it is again time to start thinking about going out and enjoying nature once again.  But your time out in nature can have an impact on the areas that you are visiting.  No I am not talking about destroying natural areas I am talking about citizen scientist projects in which you can be involved.

There are many projects that are great to be involved in and I will write about those in another blog.  Today we are going to talk about a project that was started by the California Academy of Sciences.  iNaturalist is a program “…where you can record what you see in nature, meet other nature lovers, and learn about the natural world.”  This is a fantastic program and I do not mean that lightly.  This program offers a lot of features that allow everyone to be involved in the observation process.  iNaturalist offers a community that checks and helps all of the other members in their observations.  This allows a beginner naturalist to work alongside someone with years of expertise.

iNaturalist offers 2 options for recording your observations.  The first is the website  On the website you are able to record any observations and upload pictures along with an approximate location for the observation.  You can also identify the observation or if you are not sure what it is you can ask for help and it will post it as “ID Please”.  This option allows other users to help you identify the observation and it will help you learn to identify new plants and animals.

The second option is to use the mobile app.  This offers you all of the same features as reporting on the website plus one nice feature.  If you are using a device that has GPS location on it (your smart phone or wireless enabled tablet) you can tag the exact location of the observation.

One other feature of the iNaturalist program is that it allows you to create or join projects.  This way many people are working on the same thing.  If you would like to look at the plant species in a park you can do that with a larger group of individuals.  There are several projects that you can join in the Fulton/Mason/Peoria/Tazewell county area.  One is a Biodiversity project at Chautauqua National Wildlife Refuge (Chautauqua NER: Birds, Bugs and Blooms!).  Check the site to see if there are projects that you would like to get involved in and start making your hikes educational for you and for those around you.


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