Brian Starzomski

Joined: Jun 23, 2017 Last Active: Jun 23, 2024 iNaturalist Canada Monthly Supporter since September 2020

I live in Victoria, British Columbia, though I spend a lot of time in northwestern Ontario and Nova Scotia, too. I think iNaturalist is a wonderful and important tool, and am thrilled by the community: so many observers, so many kind and helpful identifiers, and so many people looking to learn more about nature. It takes a little while to get to know how to use iNat, but the potential is huge once you do. We make a permanent record of what's out there in nature, and that's a really important contribution to our understanding of the natural world. iNat is also really fun.

I'm a professional biologist though far from a perfect naturalist: I make mistakes all the time. I'm grateful for all the ID help I get from the community here. Taxonomy has never been as well supported as it should be, and improving the accuracy of all our biodiversity observations/data is yet another example of why taxonomists and expert IDers are so important. Since I'm lucky to spend a lot of time in nature I've taken it as a responsibility to go out and come back with a good story and a better understanding of what's out there: I try to get as many observations as I can everywhere I go. As a scientist I know how important lots of people making lots of observations can be.

My day job: http://starzomski.weebly.com/, and my main iNat project (co-lead with @johndreynolds): https://www.inaturalist.ca/projects/bc-parks. A big Platanthera stricta: https://www.inaturalist.ca/observations/29829517

Here's a guide the BC Parks iNat team developed with some photo tips! https://cwf-fcf.org/en/resources/downloads/booklets-handouts/iNaturalist-Photo-Guide-Final.pdf

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If you're interested, here are a couple of our first analyses of iNat data in British Columbia, done by @ellyne as part of her MSc. They're open access.

Geurts, Ellyne M., Reynolds, John D., and Starzomski, Brian M.. 2023. Turning Observations into Biodiversity Data: Broadscale Spatial Biases in Community Science. Ecosphere 14( 6): e4582. https://doi.org/10.1002/ecs2.4582 [Take home messages: there are more iNat observations close to roads than far from them (at least 94% of all BC iNat observations are made within 1 km of a road), and more near towns and cities. More observations are made on weekends! What you can do: get out and make more observations in places far from roads, and at all times of the week!]

Geurts, Ellyne M., Reynolds, John D., and Starzomski, Brian M.. 2023. Not all who wander are lost: Trail bias in community science. PLOS ONE 18(6): e0287150. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0287150. [Take home messages: generally we find as many species by staying on trails as we would if we wandered off them. Which is great because most people are iNatting from trails. Also, iNat observations are really valuable: get out there and make more!]

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