Type of site
|Available in||Albanian, Arabic, Basque, Breton, Bulgarian, Catalan, Chinese, Czech, English, Estonian, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, Galician, German, Greek, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Luxembourgish, Macedonian, Occitan, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish|
|Owner||California Academy of Sciences|
|Users||1 million total registered users (as of December 2019) [update]|
iNaturalist is a citizen science project and online social network of naturalists, citizen scientists, and biologists built on the concept of mapping and sharing observations of biodiversity across the globe.iNaturalist may be accessed via its website or from its mobile applications. Observations recorded with iNaturalist provide valuable open data to scientific research projects, conservation agencies, other organizations, and the public. The project has been called "a standard-bearer for natural history mobile applications."
iNaturalist.org began in 2008 as a UC Berkeley School of Information Master's final project of Nate Agrin, Jessica Kline, and Ken-ichi Ueda.Nate Agrin and Ken-ichi Ueda continued work on the site with Sean McGregor, a web developer. In 2011, Ueda began collaboration with Scott Loarie, a research fellow at Stanford University and lecturer at UC Berkeley. Ueda and Loarie are the current co-directors of iNaturalist.org. The organization merged with the California Academy of Sciences on April 24, 2014. In 2014, iNaturalist celebrated its one millionth observation. In 2017, iNaturalist became a joint initiative between the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society.
The iNaturalist platform is based on crowdsourcing of observations and identifications. An iNaturalist observation records an encounter with an individual organism at a particular time and place.In addition to recording actual audio and photos of the organism, an iNaturalist observation may also record evidence of an organism, such as animal tracks, nests, and scat, but the scope of iNaturalist excludes natural but inert subjects such as geologic or hydrologic features. Users typically upload photos as evidence of their findings, though audio recordings are also accepted and such evidence is not a strict requirement. Users may share observation locations publicly, "obscure" them to display a less precise location, or make the locations private.
On iNaturalist, other users add identifications to each other's observations in order to confirm or improve the "community identification." Observations are classified as "casual," "needs ID" (needs identification), or "research grade" based on the quality of the data provided and the community identification process. "Research grade" observations are incorporated into other online databases such as The Global Biodiversity Information Facility.Users have the option to license their observations, photos, and audio recordings in several ways, including for the public domain, Creative Commons, or with all rights reserved.
Users can interact with iNaturalist in several ways:
On the iNaturalist.org website, visitors can search the public data set and interact with the individuals adding observations and identifications. The website provides tools for registered users to discuss and confirm organism identifications. Users can also create project pages to recruit participation in and coordinate work on their topics of interest.
On the primary iNaturalist mobile app, registered users can contribute nature observations to the public, online dataset. Seek, which was designed for children and families, requires no online account registration and all observations may remain private.Automated species identification is included in both apps. Seek incorporates features of gamification, such as providing a list of nearby organisms to find and encouraging the collection of badges by doing so. Seek was initially released in the spring of 2018.
In addition to observations being identified by others in the community, iNaturalist includes an automated species identification computer vision tool.Images can be identified via an artificial intelligence model which has been trained on the large database of the "research grade" observations on iNaturalist. A broader taxon such as a genus or family is typically provided if the model cannot decide what the species is. If the image has poor lighting, is blurry, or contains multiple subjects, it can be difficult for the model to determine the species and it may decide incorrectly. Multiple species suggestions are typically provided; the suggestion that the software believes to be most likely is at the top of the list.
As of 20 June 2019 [update] , iNaturalist users contributed over 25,600,000 observations of plants, animals, and other organisms worldwide, with around 150,000 users active in the previous 30 days. iNaturalist is the preferred application for crowd-sourced biodiversity data in Mexico and southern Africa.
Users have created and contributed to thousands of different projects on iNaturalist.The platform is commonly used to record observations during bioblitzes, which are biological surveying events that attempt to record all the species that occur within a designated area, and a specific project type on iNaturalist. Other project types include collections of observations by location or taxon, or documenting specific types of observations such as animal tracks and signs, the spread of invasive species, roadkill, fishing catches, or discovering new species. In 2011, iNaturalist was used as a platform to power the Global Amphibian and Global Reptile BioBlitzes, in which observations were used to help monitor the occurrence and distribution of the world's reptiles and amphibian species. The US National Park Service partnered with iNaturalist to record observations from the 2016 National Parks BioBlitz. That project exceeded 100,000 observations in August 2016. In 2017, the United Nations Environment Programme teamed up with iNaturalist to celebrate World Environment Day.
The City Nature Challenge
In 2016, Lila Higgins from the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and Alison Young from the California Academy of Sciences co-founded the City Nature Challenge. In the first City Nature Challenge, naturalists in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area documented over 20,000 observations with the iNaturalist platform.In 2017, the challenge expanded to 16 cities across the United States and collected over 125,000 observations of wildlife in 5 days. The challenge expanded to a global audience in 2018, with 68 cities participating from 19 countries, with some cities using community science platforms other than iNaturalist to participate. In 4 days, over 17,000 people cataloged over 440,000 nature observations in urban regions around the world. In 2019, the challenge once again expanded. This time 159 cities were involved, and 35,126 participants were engaged in collecting 963,773 observations of over 31,000 species.
Biodiversity is the variety and variability of life on Earth. Biodiversity is typically a measure of variation at the genetic, species, and ecosystem level. Terrestrial biodiversity is usually greater near the equator, which is the result of the warm climate and high primary productivity. Biodiversity is not distributed evenly on Earth, and is richest in the tropics. These tropical forest ecosystems cover less than 10 percent of earth's surface, and contain about 90 percent of the world's species. Marine biodiversity is usually highest along coasts in the Western Pacific, where sea surface temperature is highest, and in the mid-latitudinal band in all oceans. There are latitudinal gradients in species diversity. Biodiversity generally tends to cluster in hotspots, and has been increasing through time, but will be likely to slow in the future.
Mai Po Marshes (Chinese: 米埔濕地; Hong Kong Hakka: Mi3bu4 Sip5ti4) is a nature reserve located in San Tin near Yuen Long in Hong Kong. It is part of Deep Bay, an internationally significant wetland that is actually a shallow estuary, at the mouths of Sham Chun River, Shan Pui River (Yuen Long Creek) and Tin Shui Wai Nullah. Inner Deep Bay is listed as a Ramsar site under Ramsar Convention in 1995, and supports globally important numbers of wetland birds, which chiefly arrive in winter and during spring and autumn migrations. The education center and natural conservation area is 380 acres (1.5 km2) wide and its surrounding wetland has an area of 1500 acres (6 km2). It provides a conservation area for mammals, reptiles, insects, and over 350 species of birds.
Hoi Ha Wan or Jone's Cove is a bay at the north of Sai Kung Peninsula. It is part of Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park, a marine park in Hong Kong.
A BioBlitz, also written without capitals as bioblitz, is an intense period of biological surveying in an attempt to record all the living species within a designated area. Groups of scientists, naturalists and volunteers conduct an intensive field study over a continuous time period. There is a public component to many BioBlitzes, with the goal of getting the public interested in biodiversity. To encourage more public participation, these BioBlitzes are often held in urban parks or nature reserves close to cities.
Citizen science is scientific research conducted, in whole or in part, by amateur scientists. Citizen science is sometimes described as "public participation in scientific research," participatory monitoring, and participatory action research whose outcomes are often advancements in scientific research, as well as an increase in the public's understanding of science. Based on Alexa rankings iNaturalist is currently the most popular citizen science website followed by eBird and then Zooniverse in second and third place respectively.
Biodiversity Informatics is the application of informatics techniques to biodiversity information for improved management, presentation, discovery, exploration and analysis. It typically builds on a foundation of taxonomic, biogeographic, or ecological information stored in digital form, which, with the application of modern computer techniques, can yield new ways to view and analyse existing information, as well as predictive models for information that does not yet exist. Biodiversity informatics is a relatively young discipline but has hundreds of practitioners worldwide, including the numerous individuals involved with the design and construction of taxonomic databases. The term "Biodiversity Informatics" is generally used in the broad sense to apply to computerized handling of any biodiversity information; the somewhat broader term "bioinformatics" is often used synonymously with the computerized handling of data in the specialized area of molecular biology.
Trillium cuneatum, the little sweet Betsy, also known as whip-poor-will flower, large toadshade, purple toadshade, and bloody butcher, is a species of flowering plant in the family Melanthiaceae. It is native to the southeastern United States but is especially common in a region that extends from southern Kentucky through central Tennessee to northern Alabama. In its native habitat, this perennial plant flowers from early March to late April. It is the largest of the eastern sessile trilliums.
The Catalogue of Life is an online database that provides the world's most comprehensive and authoritative index of known species of animals, plants, fungi and micro-organisms. It was created in 2001 as a partnership between the global Species 2000 and the American Integrated Taxonomic Information System. The Catalogue interface is available in twelve languages and is used by research scientists, citizen scientists, educators, and policy makers. The Catalogue is also used by the Biodiversity Heritage Library, the Barcode of Life Data System, Encyclopedia of Life, and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility. The Catalogue currently compiles data from 168 peer-reviewed taxonomic databases, that are maintained by specialist institutions around the world. As of 2019, the Catalogue lists 1,837,565 of the world's 2.2m extant species known to taxonomists on the planet at present time.
The Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) is a free, online collaborative encyclopedia intended to document all of the 1.9 million living species known to science. It is compiled from existing databases and from contributions by experts and non-experts throughout the world. It aims to build one "infinitely expandable" page for each species, including video, sound, images, graphics, as well as text. In addition, the Encyclopedia incorporates content from the Biodiversity Heritage Library, which digitizes millions of pages of printed literature from the world's major natural history libraries. The project was initially backed by a US$50 million funding commitment, led by the MacArthur Foundation and the Sloan Foundation, who provided US$20 million and US$5 million, respectively. The additional US$25 million came from five cornerstone institutions—the Field Museum, Harvard University, the Marine Biological Laboratory, the Missouri Botanical Garden, and the Smithsonian Institution. The project was initially led by Jim Edwards and the development team by David Patterson. Today, participating institutions and individual donors continue to support EOL through financial contributions.
WWF Hong Kong is the independent branch of the World Wide Fund for Nature in Hong Kong. It was established in 1981 as World Wildlife Fund Hong Kong an environmental organization in Hong Kong and has Conservation, Climate & Energy and Education programmes in Hong Kong and Mainland China.
eBird is an online database of bird observations providing scientists, researchers and amateur naturalists with real-time data about bird distribution and abundance. Originally restricted to sightings from the Western Hemisphere, the project expanded to include New Zealand in 2008, and again expanded to cover the whole world in June 2010. eBird has been described as an ambitious example of enlisting amateurs to gather data on biodiversity for use in science.
The Reptile Database is a scientific database that collects taxonomic information on all living reptile species. The database focuses on species and has entries for all currently recognized ~13,000 species and their subspecies, although there is usually a lag time of up to a few months before newly described species become available online. The database collects scientific and common names, synonyms, literature references, distribution information, type information, etymology, and other taxonomically relevant information.
iSpot is a website developed and hosted by the Open University with funding from the Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) network with an online community intended to connect nature enthusiasts of all levels.
eButterfly is an online database of butterfly observations that collects data on butterfly abundance, distribution and phenology across North America. Naturalists, entomologists and other citizen scientists contribute observations in checklist form and the aggregated information is available through mapping and queries tools on eButterfly. eButterfly has a vetting system where a group of regional experts review submissions to ensure that the quality of data remains high. Photos can be added to any observation and eButterfly supports life lists and photo libraries for users.
The South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) is an organisation under the South African Department of Environmental Affairs, tasked with research and dissemination of information on biodiversity.
QuestaGame, launched in 2014 in Canberra, Australia, is a mobile app game for photographing and identifying fauna, flora, and fungi. Sightings are verified by experts and gain points for players. The game leverages citizen science to help document species occurrences, adding data to databases such as Atlas of Living Australia. Ranger Vision is a classroom version.
The City Nature Challenge is an annual, global, community science competition to document urban biodiversity. The challenge is a bioblitz that engages residents and visitors to find and document plants, animals, and other organisms living in urban areas. The goals are to engage the public in the collection of biodiversity data, with three awards each year for the cities that makes the most observations, find the most species, and engage the most people.
SeaKeys is a large collaborative marine biodiversity project funded through the Foundational Biodiversity Information Program in South Africa. The purpose of the project is to collect and distribute genetic, species and ecosystem information relating to marine biodiversity in southern Africa, which may be used to support informed decision-making about the marine environment.
Orobanche reticulata is a species of broomrape known by the common name thistle broomrape. It is a parasitic plant whose host is normally the creeping thistle. It is native to the lowlands of Western Europe and Central Asia, but in the United Kingdom it is a rare and protected plant, growing only in Yorkshire, on grassland sites such as Quarry Moor.
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