Journal archives for November 2017

November 10, 2017

How not to get started in iNaturalist

I don't see people using iNaturalist posts much, but I've had a few thoughts about this resource that it might be useful to jot down. Not that they'll get much circulation, but maybe someday they'll come in handy. So here's one thought.

I joined iNaturalist a couple of months ago and right away made a tactical error. I had a collection of single photos of plant species that I'd identified (about 700 of them), so I just loaded them onto iNaturalist in the first couple of weeks. I didn't first figure out the system, that you need to work up a group of people with similar taxonomic interests or similar geography, and typically they will be the ones who review your observations as they come in. I had no community, so my several hundred plant observations languished unreviewed, and they quickly got buried in the sands of time.

Since then, some of those submissions have been stumbled upon and reviewed, and I've prevailed on several of you to look back at specific old submissions, and people have been very congenial and cooperative. But if I had had a better idea of how IDs on iNaturalist worked, I wouldn't have done that data dump. I'd have submitted a few things but spent more time identifying other people's observations and getting to know the observers a bit.

Posted on November 10, 2017 03:44 AM by janetwright janetwright | 2 comments | Leave a comment

Mysteries on the doorstep - solved by iNaturalist

Here's a place where iNaturalist shines.

We live on a salt marsh, and after Hurricane Nate we had tons of old marshgrass spread across our yard. In the process of cleaning it up, we discovered two new creatures, a bizarre-looking grasshopper and a weird, extremely flat very small bug. The grasshoppers were astoundingly well camouflaged in dead marsh grass unless they moved. The bugs weren't camouflaged; they settled on walls. Though there were hundreds, or thousands, of both, they were completely new to us.

My insect ID skills are pretty rudimentary, so I entered photos of both into iNaturalist. The robo identifier got the grasshopper (Leptysma marginicollis, cattail toothpick grasshopper) right away. It couldn't ID the flat bug, which was hard to photograph, but within a couple of weeks someone had suggested family Blissidae, which was enough hint for me to find Ischnodemus falicus, a salt marsh chinch bug that lives hidden in the leaf sheaths of one of the major marsh grasses. Two lovely salt marsh specialists that we had never seen in 10 years living here! And which would have remained a mystery if not for iNaturalist.

Posted on November 10, 2017 08:35 PM by janetwright janetwright | 2 observations | 1 comment | Leave a comment