Journal archives for December 2019

December 23, 2019

Thanks

Thanks to Colin Ralston for bringing the CNC to the greater Garden Route District Municipality.

Posted on December 23, 2019 22:52 by shauns shauns | 0 comments | Leave a comment

December 25, 2019

Tips on taking id'able photos for iNaturalist

Remember, all observations must include a photo to verify the sighting.

IMPORTANT: Respect nature and the environment. Do not break, destroy, disturb or in any other way damage the focus object or its surroundings.

01) If there are multiple species in the photo, either indicate which one is the focal in the description block, or use Microsoft Paint to circle the primary object or place an arrow.
02) If the focus species is in the distance, crop the picture to "bring" it closer. Again Microsoft Paint works well.
03) If your photo is rotated, you can either do it online after uploading https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/rotating-pictures-after-upload/5847, or use "JPEG Autorotate" https://savolai.net/apps/

Plants
01) The whole plant filling the frame (i.e. you can see the top of the plant at the top of the picture and the ground/soil at the bottom of the picture)
02) Close up of a single leaf, with the entire leaf in the frame of the picture
03) Close up of a single flower or berry (if the plant has flowers or berries)
https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/abisko-plants-and-phenology/journal/17621-getting-great-plant-photos-for-identification-in-inaturalist
https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_PLANTMATERIALS/publications/flpmctn12688.pdf

Fungi
01) Take a photo of the top side
02) Take a photo of the underside of the fungi. Gills make for easier identification.

Posted on December 25, 2019 09:24 by shauns shauns | 0 comments | Leave a comment

December 26, 2019

City Nature Challenge Projects in Africa

Posted on December 26, 2019 08:03 by shauns shauns | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Some interesting and useful projects you may wish to join

Posted on December 26, 2019 09:45 by shauns shauns | 0 comments | Leave a comment

If you have questions, queries or suggestions

If you have any questions, queries or suggestions Colin Ralston is your GoTo person
https://www.inaturalist.org/messages/new

In the "TO" block type
Colin Ralston (the username colin25 will be displayed. click it)

Voilà, you can send your message
Just remember to press the "Send" button at the bottom.

PS.
All complaints will have a 365 day mandatory waiting period to allow for the complainant to cool down 😀

Posted on December 26, 2019 09:58 by shauns shauns | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Assist with identifications

Posted on December 26, 2019 16:32 by shauns shauns | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Ensuring accuracy of observations and visibility

The accuracy of your observation could mean it is inside, or outside the project.

If you are using your cell phone, make sure GPS is set on.
Most cameras with built in GPS are relatively accurate and no adjustment needs to be made.

If you have no GPS, and have to plot the site on the map, then please check the Accuracy "Acc (m)" during uploading.
Unless you have no alternative, plot the likely area and make sure that "Acc (m)" is set to maximum 100 meters.

Further, make sure that the "Geoprivacy" is set as "Open"

Posted on December 26, 2019 18:54 by shauns shauns | 0 comments | Leave a comment

December 29, 2019

December 30, 2019

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions:
Copied and edited with permission from the Cape Town 2020 CNC project page

Q? Do planted/captive organisms (excluding dogs and cats) count?
• Yes, all living organisms count. But the focus is on wild and natural organisms. Please mark any observations that you definitely know are planted or captive as such. Note that aliens and weeds are wild!

Q? What happens if my plant/goggo cannot be identified?
• Observations that cannot be identified to species level won’t add to the species tally, but will still count to the number of observations score. It is important though to take several pictures of different features from different angles, with some close-ups. This will help get precise identifications.
• We hope to get experts in many groups to help us with identifications. So with luck most of your observations will be identified to species level.

Q? Do the insects in my garden count to the totals?
• Most definitely. As do the plants and other animals that they are feeding on or associated with.
So do animals and fungi in your house: the ants, moths and other visitors also count. Please record them all. If you know that your garden or street trees are planted, please mark them as such.

Q? Do I have to register to participate, or is joining iNaturalist enough?
• All you have to do is join iNaturalist and make observations during the four days of the City Nature Challenge (24-27 April 2020) within the project boundaries, and upload them on or before the 3rd of May 2020 .
• Some groups have special projects we are requesting them to use. So Scouts will add their Scouting project, CREW volunteers will add the Habitat project, and so forth. If you would like to add your own tags or notes you are most welcome.
• At the same time as contributing to the City Nature Challenge, observations will also automatically be contributing to the Nature Reserve, Greenbelt, and other places, checklists and projects. The iNaturalist website will handle that all automatically. All you have to do is photograph and upload with the iNaturalist app.

Q? What happens if the weather turns ugly and we cannot get out on those days?
• There are four days (24-27 April 2020). We will just have to try harder on the best days. In the very worst case scenario of four days of major Easter cold front storms with torrential rain, we will make up for it in 2021. (2019 was perfect weather).

Q? Why are we having it in autumn, instead of spring when things are happening?
• A very good question. Some say we should organize our own Southern Hemisphere City Nature Challenge in our austral spring, rather than during the northern spring. Still we have enough biodiversity to match any northern city in spring during our autumn.

Q? Who will identify my observations?
• We will have teams to help make identifications after the data collection period of the City Nature Challenge. So your observations will be identified over the next few days from 28 April until 3 May 2019.
• However, it will help if your observation contains good closeups of features, such as heads, legs, wings, and bodies of animals, and flowers, bracts, leaves and stems of plants, and views of the gills or undersides of fungi. Several pictures of different parts from different angles will help considerably with making an accurate identification.
• If you can help with identification, it will be appreciated. We need both experts who know all the local species in a group, as well as those who can help to put observations into families or genera. Please contact your nearest CREW or Botanical Society group to help us. Identifiers can be from all around the world, so please rope in your relatives overseas if they can help!

Q? By when must observations made during the 4 days be uploaded?
• After the four days (24-27 April 2020) are up there are a few days grace (until 4 May) to upload. However, we do need to identify the organisms, so as soon as is possible please - aim for the 3rd May at the latest..

Q? I would like to photograph small things! How do I get good photographs?
• It helps to zoom in. Enlarge the image on your screen before taking the photograph. If you desire, you can use a magnifying glass in front of your smartphone lens.
• One can also buy magnifying accessories at many smartphone stores that clip onto your phone and can make minute ants look huge. If you can get hold of one and focus on our really small life, it would be really cool!
Alternatively, if you have a macro lens, that would be perfect.

Q? How can I track progress during the challenge to see how many observations and species and participants there are?
• Visit this project, or bookmark this link: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/city-nature-challenge-2020-garden-route-district-municipality. It will continuously update as the challenge progresses.
Check out the competition here: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/city-nature-challenge-2020 - this is continuously updated, so you can monitor progress. Remember that we are near GMT, so almost half the world is ahead of us (starting with New Zealand 10 hours ahead) and half behind (ending with Hawaii 14 hours behind).

Q? How do I find out where a species has been recorded in the city?
• On the iNaturalist web page, choose "Explore", and add in the organism name (you can use common names) and the place (Oudtshoorn) and you can look at the map, observations, species (if you have chosen a genus or family), and the observers and identifiers in the area. For instance:
King Protea: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=146648&taxon_id=132848
Sparrows: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=146648&taxon_id=13685 (click on the species tab to see the species recorded)

Q? How do I find a checklist for a nature reserve or other place?
• On the iNaturalist web page, choose “More”, select places, and enter the name of the place you are interested in. On the page, choose the checklist option below the filters on the left. You can narrow down the checklist to any group, family or genus that you are interested in.
Areas making up the district can be found on the project summary page.

Q? I am stuck at home and cannot get to the activities. What can I do?
• Your garden is a perfect biodiversity enclave. Record the visitors: bees, flies, butterflies, birds. Also your pests (not pets): aphids, millipedes, snails and caterpillars. Why not look for chameleons and lizards as well? And don't forget to include your garden plants, especially if they interact with pollinators or fruit dispersing birds or are a food source for other wildlife. Even your pot plants: just mark them as 'planted'.

Q? Can several people take pictures of the same plant? Will it be useful if they did, or rather a waste of time? I guess it would add to the total observations but not to the total species observed.
• It is better if they don’t. Why should they? There are lots of plants. Rather send the team or bioblitzers to find other plants.
Of course it will happen that several observers may photograph the same species on your excursion. If they are more than a few hundred metres away then the distribution information is useful. If they are less, then it is still useful information. But please discourage an entire class photographing the same bush.
Inevitably it will happen that a really special plant/goggo/bird/etc. is found. And everyone wants to record it to add to their life list. These things happen, and should not be discouraged. Not only will everyone want to photograph it, but some will want to come back and photograph it again. That is also OK; as it contributes to the phenology data - growth, flowering, and fruiting, even flowering times during the day (or night): the data are always useful.

Q? If I photograph a plant and then see another of the same species nearby, should I photograph it? How far away should these be to qualify as different observations? (1m, or 5m, or 20m,..?)
• If you are going to photograph each species every 1m, then after 5 hours you will have crawled 50m and be exhausted. A rule of thumb is to think population-wise: try and get every population. So for some trees it will be 5km away. For some rare post-fire herbs, every 50m should be adequate. If it is rare, record every clump. If it is common, select a few places along your route.
It also depends on the projects. For Western Leopard Toads photograph each toad, showing its "finger print" markings on the back. For European Starlings, one photo per flock per week is almost too much.
For monitoring trees for Polyphagous Shothole Borer Beetle infestation each tree is permissible. Remember to add the project and record the level of infestation (or null if there is no sign of attack).

Q? If I photograph a plant non-indigenous to our area (ie planted), how should this be labelled? A thumbs-down to "Organism is wild"?
• Yes, this is the correct thing to do. On the app, just click not wild. Note that if it is a special plant and you want confirmation of the ID, it might be wise to hold back marking it as planted until you get confirmation of the ID, because observations marked "not wild" go out of the "Needs ID" queue. For the CNC, this does not matter as one ID is enough for our purposes.
• Don’t confuse "not wild" with "not indigenous": lots of alien and near-alien species are very wild! Not wild is for those plants that you know were planted, and those animals still captive.

Q? Identification - I assume this is needed to species level - genus level is not enough? What about common names - are they good enough?
• Identification. Our southern African common names are still not yet on iNaturalist (we are still waiting for the community to be installed before doing this). Otherwise the common name would give you the scientific name automatically (unless there were complications - like several species with the same name).
• For purposes of posting the ID, don’t worry. Just add the name that you know (common, vernacular, scientific, pet name). The identification teams will mop up afterwards. Get the observation in the bag, and don't worry about identification during the four days of the challenge.

Q? How many "agrees” are needed for identification?
• Two agreements are needed for "research grade". But for the purposes of the City Nature Challenge, a single identification will suffice. But it won’t suffice for us in this project. We will endeavour to get two agreements for our critical observations - where a critical observation is one that gives us a name towards our species total. We don’t want wrong Identifications. Some will undoubtedly occur, but we want to catch them as soon as possible. So the short answer is only one ID is needed for the CNC, but two are needed for the projects contributions.

Q? Who determines whether the plant is correctly identified?
• We do. You and I, and everyone else. If you see an incorrectly named observation, please provide a correct ID. Even if you don’t know what it is, if you know that it isn’t that, then make an ID to a higher level.
Example - Someone posts an ant and uses the Image Recognition System to make an ID. All our southern African ants will be misidentified by this as North American species. If you notice this, just ID it as "Ant" (iNat will make it Formicidae - Ants: so don't worry about the vloekname), and choose, "I don't know, but it is definitely not North American Ant". The Ant team will then mop these up. If we don't have time during the challenge, we will work through them more leisurely afterwards.

Q? Will you be creating a "place" called Garden Route District Municipality, or something like that for all the observations? Then we can look at that place only for the identification stage.
• That is already done.
The place is - https://www.inaturalist.org/places/garden-route-district-municipality-incl-2-nautical-mile#/places/garden-route-district-municipality-incl-2-nautical-mile= - but that is not really useful, unless you add a time filter for the Challenge
The project is - https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/city-nature-challenge-2020-garden-route-district-municipality - and that only shows challenge data, so is ideal. Not only that, but it gives the exact current total for the observations, species and observers.
• And during the identification parties we will be using the Curatorial Tool "Identify", filtered by the project: like so (it is empty now):
https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/city-nature-challenge-2020-garden-route-district-municipality/journal/29601-assist-with-identifications - simply select which group you would like.
Or refine it even further (e.g. Ericaceae) under plants and open the tool by clicking on the first card.
We will have both courses and identification parties for those interested. But yes, there is no reason why one cannot work independently at home or in a coffee shop or with a friend.

Q? If I photograph, say, a Restio that I am not sure about - is it a good idea to take an educated guess as to the species, and which someone can correct if necessary, or to leave the identification as Restio?
• Firstly, in the field, leave it out. Leave identifications until after all your observations are loaded. Unless you are sure and it does not take much time.
• During the identification period: If in doubt leave it out. It depends how much you are not sure, and how many other choices there are. If you are not certain which Restio it is, but it might be gaudichaudiana, then perhaps just ID as "Restio". But if it is either gaudichaudiana or simplex, then make the ID and in the comments say - "or possibly simplex".
• Note that anyone can help. We will need people to ID plants to families or genera to help the expert teams make species-level IDs.

Q? Are there any arrangements being made for the identification stage or are we each just going to do what we can when we have time?
• You are welcome to work on your own. But we will be having ID parties. Courses and details will be made available closer to the time.

Q? When getting the total score for each city, what weight is given to the three criteria: number of species, number of observations, and number of observers? Surely the number of species should count much more than the others if they want to find the most biodiverse city?
• The challenge is much more than that. There are three separate criteria, and they are not merged. The winning city is for each category, and if a particular city wins more than one of these, then it is the overall winner.
• There are also other criteria reported on, but not on the challenge per se. These are the proportion and number of observations identified, and identified to species. And obvious additional criterion could be the number of identifiers, but these tend to be worldwide and not specific to the City involved. And then of course there are other possible criteria, like taxa (e.g. birds, mammals, insect’s plants (note that it is unlikely to be to families), fungi (ditto). And also marine vs terrestrial. And also wild versus planted. And additional perhaps: identified to research grade. Then there will be summaries by climate zone, by the area of the city and the number of people in it.
And we will probably look at additional criteria in the post-challenge evaluation. But we will summarize these here.

Q? So anything wild goes. Or invasive. Cool
But what about: Anything planted if in a park or Nature Reserve? I think of Strelitzia, Bauhinia, Gardenia, palm trees and oaks to name a few!
• All count. Just mark them as planted. This will present a problem for the ID process as they won’t be "Needs ID" if marked as planted. But we will get around that.
Not only do these count, they are part of our urban biodiversity and must be recorded. Please don’t skimp on them. There is no way we will meet our targets if we only do indigenous plants - the bulbs, annuals and hidden species are just too many: those are for spring! For now, we need all our urban trees and weeds and or champion and heritage species.
So yes. Indigenous - tick! Aliens - tick! Urban plants - tick! Plants planted to beautify our reserves, verges, and parkscapes - tick! (and ditto the animals and fungi!). Remember to mark planted (if you are 100% certain it is planted and has not escaped).

Q? How does the counting work? If I see a chameleon, sunbird, skink, whatever each of the 4 days in my own garden and post an obs thereof each day. How would that count/work? Or for that matter a ibis on the side walk each day!
• That would strictly be cheating. The same chameleon (or even another) in your garden over a few days should count as one observation. But those in your aunt's, or niece's gardens would count as different observations. Similarly if you saw the Ibis in a different block or park or suburb, then those are definitely different observations and can (and should!) be posted. Within a nature reserve a few hundred meters would suffice: unless you were monitoring "clumps", in which case each clump would be acceptable. Use your discretion: - distances to a new observation will be much smaller for a millipede than an eagle. .

Q? Hidden localities! We have lots of Red List species. Quite a few of these are on the edge of the boundaries! If iNat obscures these, then they won’t show up and count, and that will put us at a considerable disadvantage? What should we do?
• No they will count. To see how look at - https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=146648 - and note that the outliers are included. ((This only works for "official iNat" places, and not for places added by observers, so the data will be safe from "mining". Note that this map is all our data to date, not just the challenge data)) so there is no need to devise devious ways of getting our data in: they will all be counted - every single one.

Posted on December 30, 2019 12:10 by shauns shauns | 0 comments | Leave a comment