Type of site
|Available in||37 languages|
|Owner||California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society|
|Users||1.8 million registered users (December 2020) [update]|
iNaturalist is a social network of naturalists, citizen scientists, and biologists built on the concept of mapping and sharing observations of biodiversity across the globe. As of February 2021 [update] , iNaturalist users had contributed approximately 66 million observations of plants, animals, fungi, and other organisms worldwide, and around 130,000 users were active in the previous 30 days.iNaturalist may be accessed via its website or from its mobile applications.
iNaturalist describes itself as "an online social network of people sharing biodiversity information to help each other learn about nature", with its primary goal being to connect people to nature.Although it is not a science project itself, iNaturalist is platform for science and conservation efforts, providing valuable open data to research projects, land managers, other organizations, and the public. It is the primary application for crowd-sourced biodiversity data in places such as Mexico, southern Africa, and Australia, and the project has been called "a standard-bearer for natural history mobile applications."
iNaturalist 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 2017, iNaturalist became a joint initiative between the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society.
Since 2012, the number participants and observations has roughly doubled each year.In 2014, iNaturalist reached 1 million observations and as of February 2021 there were 66 million observations.
Users can interact with iNaturalist in several ways:
On the iNaturalist.org website, visitors can search the public dataset and interact with other people adding observations and identifications. The website provides tools for registered users to add, identify, and discuss observations, write journal posts, explore information about species, and create project pages to recruit participation in and coordinate work on their topics of interest.
On the iNaturalist mobile app, registered users can create and share nature observations to the online dataset, explore nearby observations, and learn about different species.
Seek by iNaturalist, a separate app designed for children and families, requires no online account registration and all observations may remain private.Seek incorporates features of gamification, such as providing a list of nearby organisms to find and encouraging the collection of badges and participation in challenges. Seek was initially released in the spring of 2018.
The website and mobile apps are free software released under the MIT License.
The iNaturalist platform is based on crowdsourcing of observations and identifications. An iNaturalist observation records a person's encounter with an individual organism at a particular time and place.An iNaturalist observation may also record evidence of an organism, such as animal tracks, nests, or scat. 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 completely private.
On iNaturalist, other users add identifications to each other's observations in order to confirm or improve the identification of the observation. 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. Any quality of data can be downloaded from iNaturalist and "Research Grade" observations are often incorporated into other online databases such as The Global Biodiversity Information Facility and the Atlas of Living Australia.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.
In addition to observations being identified by others in the community, iNaturalist includes an automated species identification tool, first released in 2017.Images can be identified via a computer vision model which has been trained on the large database of the observations on iNaturalist. If the image is of a little-observed species, one hard to identify from images alone, or it 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 with the suggestion that the software guesses to be most likely is at the top of the list. A broader taxon such as a genus or family is commonly provided if the model cannot decide what the species is. The model is trained once or twice a year and the threshold for species included in the training set has changed over time.
Users have created and contributed to tens of 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.
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 (CNC). 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 CNC expanded to 16 cities across the United States and collected over 125,000 observations of wildlife in 5 days. The CNC 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 CNC once again expanded, with 35,000 participants in 159 cities collecting 964,000 observations of over 31,000 species. Although fewer observations were documented during the 2020 City Nature Challenge during the COVID-19 pandemic, more cities and people participated and more species were found than in previous years.
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.
Wikispecies is a wiki-based online project supported by the Wikimedia Foundation. Its aim is to create a comprehensive free content catalogue of all species; the project is directed at scientists, rather than at the general public. Jimmy Wales stated that editors are not required to fax in their degrees, but that submissions will have to pass muster with a technical audience. Wikispecies is available under the GNU Free Documentation License and CC BY-SA 3.0.
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 by improving the scientific communities capacity, as well as increasing the public's understanding of science.
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.
Automated species identification is a method of making the expertise of taxonomists available to ecologists, parataxonomists and others via digital technology and artificial intelligence. Today, most automated identification systems rely on images depicting the species for the identification. Based on precisely identified images of a species, a classifier is trained. Once exposed to a sufficient amount of training data, this classifier can then identify the trained species on previously unseen images. Accurate species identification is the basis for all aspects of taxonomic research and is an essential component of workflows in biological research.
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.
Tiputinia is a genus of myco-heterotrophic plants in family Burmanniaceae, first described as a genus in 2007. There is only one known species, Tiputinia foetida, formerly thought to be endemic to eastern Ecuador, new records from Peru suggest that the distribution is more widespread than formerly thought. The plant is mycotrophic, i.e. lacking chlorophyll and obtaining sustenance from fungi in the soil.
NASA International Space Apps Challenge is annual NASA's global hackathon, first held in April 2012, and serves as innovation incubation and civic engagement program. NASA and its partners put out challenges relating to current work for which space enthusiasts around the world of all backgrounds can develop innovative solutions, particularly focusing on use of NASA data and promoting education. The project, formerly run by NASA's Office of the Chief Information Officer, is part of NASA's Earth Science Mission Directorate and is a part of the Open Government Initiative founded under President Barack Obama "creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government." It also fulfills the United States’ commitments to the Open Government Partnership.
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.
The South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) is an organisation established in 2004 in terms of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, No 10 of 2004, under the South African Department of Environmental Affairs, tasked with research and dissemination of information on biodiversity, and legally mandated to contribute to the management of the country’s biodiversity resources.
Tokai Park, previously known as "Tokai Forest", is a small wing, about 600 ha, of the greater Table Mountain National Park in Cape Town, South Africa. Tokai Park is made up of two sections: upper and lower Tokai Park. Lower Tokai Park is flat, and characterized by the threatened Cape Flats Sand Fynbos. Upper Tokai Park is on the slopes of Constantiaberg Mountain, and consists of conservation area as well as the Tokai Arboretum. Upper Tokai Park is characterized by Peninsula Granite Fynbos, Peninsula Sandstone Fynbos and Afromontane Forest and noted for its diversity.
Biodiversity loss includes the extinction of species worldwide, as well as the local reduction or loss of species in a certain habitat, resulting in a loss of biological diversity.
Fungal Diversity Survey, or FunDiS, is a nonprofit citizen science organization formerly known as North American Mycoflora Project, Inc. FunDiS aims to document the diversity and distribution of fungi across North America “in order to increase awareness of their critical role in the health of ecosystems and allow us to better protect them in a world of rapid climate change and habitat loss.” The project encourages amateurs, working with professionals, to contribute observations to online databases vetted by experts, and to collect and document fungi for DNA barcoding. Fungal Diversity Survey, Inc. is a Charitable 501(c)(3) organization registered in Indiana, USA.
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. QuestaGame has been reported as driving citizen science by mapping biodiversity, discovering new species, and averting biosecurity risks.
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.
Bhutan Biodiversity Portal(འབྲུག་སྐྱེ་ལྡན་རིགས་སྣ་འཆར་སྒོ།) is a consortium based citizen science website comprising key biodiversity data generating agencies and can be used by anyone. The portal is an official online repository of data on Bhutanese biodiversity.
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