Documentation of Park Flora and Fauna
The Wilderness Park Biota Project:
Understanding what flora and fauna live in the Wilderness Park is essential for conservation management. To start documenting the Park biota, we have initiated an iNaturalist project to collect observations of plants and animals in the Park. If you make iNaturalist observations in the Park, they will automatically be collected and added to the project! There are, however, advantages to officially becoming a member of the project – you will get news about the project, and you will be able to report rare plants and animals, whose locations are otherwise obscured by iNaturalist. You can check out the project here https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/biota-of-the-claremont-hills-wilderness-park.
What is iNaturalist?
iNaturalist is an online social network of people sharing biodiversity information to help each other learn about nature. iNaturalist is a collaboration between National Geographic and the California Academy of Sciences. Anyone can participate in iNaturalist! You can make iNaturalist observations as part of your regular hikes, so no special forms or permissions are needed.
Basically you take a photo with either your smartphone, tablet, or a camera, and then you upload the photo and the location to the iNaturalist website. If you are using a smartphone or tablet, you can download an iNaturalist app, that will let you upload photos, which automatically include the location directly from your phone or table. If you are using a camera, you will usually upload your photos to the website from a computer. If you’re camera does not record a location, then you will need to enter the location manually.
Once observations are uploaded, other users can look at your observation and confirm your identification or propose a more specific or different identification. Once two-thirds of identifiers have agreed on an ID, your observation will become “Research Grade”! (You can read more about the details of “Reseach Grade” here.)
How does one get and use iNaturalist?
- Go to iNaturalist.org and create a free account. You should see “SIGN UP” featured prominently on the homepage. Otherwise, there’s a “Sign Up” link in the top right corner.
- On your smart phone, go to the Apple Store or the Google Play store and download the iNaturalist app.
- Once you’ve signed up, you can enter observations from either your phone or computer. The iNaturalist site has a really good explanation at https://www.inaturalist.org/pages/getting+started. The page also has links to video tutorials.
- Observations made in the Park will automatically be included in our project!
A few tips for best practices:
- If feasible, crop your photos to feature the subject, especially if it’s not clear whether the subject is the bird or the tree, for example.
- If possible, take photos that show different aspects of your organism – for instance, both a photo or a whole plant and close-ups of leaves and flowers.
- Include a little description. For one thing, you can use the description to say what’s the subject. But you can also note any additional details, interesting behavior, type of habitat, odors, etc. that may not be obvious from the photo.
- Give the most specific ID you can, even if it’s not to the species level. For instance, “insect”, “snake”, or even “plant” or “animal” is better than just having “unknown”. A more specific ID will help to attract expert identifiers.
- Give a little info about yourself in your profile – it increases your credibility.