November 26, 2015

"Mining" old What's Invasive observations for iNaturalist observations

Back in 2009, about when iNaturalist was being created, I had the opportunity to help test another similar app called What's Invasive. The tech was much less advanced - we were using old 'blackberry' phones - and as will be seen, the camera was not good. Nevertheless, my short obsession with testing this app was a precursor of future iNaturalist observations.

I'm not sure What's Invasive gets much use anymore, and I thought it would be a fun November project to get these observations into iNaturalist. I downloaded a CSV from What's Invasive that included links to the photos and bulk loaded the observations to iNaturalist. I had to transfer the photos manually but it didn't take too long.

The repeated observations of invasives are not all that exciting, but I quickly realized there were lots of other plants in the photos too. In one case between the handful of species of invasives and other species I saw I was able to find 24 species in one day's worth of observations.

I often remark that I really wished I had iNaturalist when I was out mapping vegetation in the Santa Monica Mountains. This way at least I captured a little snapshot of that time there.

To see these observations, see May and June 2009 on my Calendar. Turns out I can't easily tag them to this journal post because the journal attachment feature is sorted by date observed, and i am not going to scroll past 15000 observations to find them.

There may be a few more to 'mine' in Vermont as well.. but as of right now the What's Invasive website is down. Maybe I got these California photos just in time.

Posted on November 26, 2015 12:16 PM by charlie charlie | 0 comments | Leave a comment

November 25, 2015

Poll: Required Fields in Projects - Problem or No?

Hi all! A quick question. Since I use iNaturalist differently than everyone else, I realize my perception is different than that of others. However, I find required fields in projects REALLY annoying to the point that if a project has required fields i will rarely or never contribute to it. I was wondering if it's just a pet peeve I have that no one else shares, or if indeed they annoy other people. And if you don't use them, is it because you don't like required fields, or just because the feature isn't working right.


Posted on November 25, 2015 02:03 AM by charlie charlie | 14 comments | Leave a comment

November 06, 2015

"Serious" Data Collection with inaturalist

iNaturalist is a citizen science website, but the website and app are also powerful tools for collecting 'professional' data. I work as an ecologist, but yesterday I had a day off and decided I didn't want to spend the unseasonably warm, sunny fall day indoors. So I set out for Pine Mountain Wildlife Management Area, a place I had never been before in an area no one had entered anything into iNaturalist.
i was wondering the woods for fun, so in a sense I too was being a citizen scientist, one of many 'professionals' who also records biodiversity data for fun. But I also wanted to see what sort of plant species list I could build in just a few hours (along with any other taxa I came across). I quickly documented species using the iPhone app, and took notes about natural communities when it made sense, as well.
The result? 153 observations of 81 taxa (including a few observations I took from turnouts on the drive out. This number may also change if I add a couple more IDs or copy observations for extra species). All have photos and GPS data. Some have associated species tagged. Many show the state of late-fall (or lack theref) color in the trees. I also documented several natural communities - a fen, a dry oak forest, a rich northern hardwood forest, and a northern hardwood talus woodland.
When I am doing surveys 'for real' I still like to have a pen and notebook, of course. Perhaps I always will. But at least in the case where the data can be shared publicly, iNaturalist also offers a way to quickly make an ecological assessment of a place, complete with photos and GPS points.
It's really a powerful tool, even if this is not exactly what the app and website were created to do.
The journal post wouldn't let me add all 153 observations to this journal entry, but you can see them here.

Posted on November 06, 2015 01:34 PM by charlie charlie | 90 observations | 16 comments | Leave a comment

October 08, 2015

More Unusually Late Green Foliage

Today in Montpelier i encountered a yellow birch in a northern hardwood forest with no visible color change at all! on October 7th! Also the staghorn sumac which usually is an early changer was still mostly green. The sugar maples are changing but are a less vibrant yellow with brown spots... same as the trees in our yard.

The anomaly is spotty because looking another direction there are many vibrant trees. The red maples seem as red as ever in most cases.

Will continue monitoring as it appears to be an unusual phenomena related to climate change or at least to the unusually warm September. We are getting into the time of year where the mountains sometimes start getting snow, and if the trees up high do not lose their leaves soon they could be damaged.

Posted on October 08, 2015 03:26 AM by charlie charlie | 3 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

October 06, 2015

Anomalous fall foliage patterns

Took a couple of drives and hikes last weekend to check out fall foliage. In several cases we observed an odd pattern. In the valleys and lowlands the foliage is not too far behind,w ith brilliant red maples and sugar maples. The red maples in the wetlands are especially vivid. However, when one goes up to 1500-2000 feet in elevation the trees are still TOTALLY GREEN with essentially no fall color either in Hazen's Notch or on top of Irish Hill in Berlin. I am hearing the same from others. No idea what is behind this odd pattern, usually the high elevation trees go early for obvious reasons. There seems to be more to it than just cold air drainage.

September was extremely warm, in many places the warmest september in record. It makes sense that the foliage would be late, but the pattern that it is following is very odd.

Posted on October 06, 2015 02:15 AM by charlie charlie | 6 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

September 29, 2014

Lost Hikes

Today was an interesting day... tried to get to the Long Trail north from route 2... the first attempt was a section that didn't yet exist, the second attempt had no parking due to road construction. Tried to go to the hike behind the Youth Conservation Center and ended up taking a wrong turn. Ended up on a beautiful ridge in dry oak forest with an incredible view of foliage-rich hills and mountains towards Mount Mansfield. Our hiking was accompanied by the plop of many falling acorns. A good little hike despite all the obstacles to get there!

Posted on September 29, 2014 03:22 PM by charlie charlie | 29 observations | 5 comments | Leave a comment

September 26, 2014

Downer Glen

Descended into Downer Glen in Manchester today to look for old forest. This is the sort of place which, while near populated areas, is true wilderness and almost never visited. There are a few beer cans on the scramble down, probably thrown from the overlook above (site of bracken observation), and I found a mysterious golf ball on some miserably inaccessible slope (maybe hit from across the canyon?) but otherwise there were no signs of humans. The forest on the south slopes is definitely old-growth, and was probably never logged at all, because it takes scrambling on hands and knees over loose talus and through hobblebush to even get there.

It would have probably been easier to explore and then go back the way I came. The 'adventure' I went on had a very long hobble-and-wet-talus scramble with lots of holes to twist your ankle and such.

There is said to be a nice waterfall in the canyon but I didn't have time to search for it, being here for work to look at the forest. There was a point where I wondered if I'd get back to the car before dark... thankfully my second attempt to get back across the canyon was successful.

Posted on September 26, 2014 12:01 PM by charlie charlie | 10 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

August 24, 2014

Trip 9 - marshfield (Trip)

This is test Trip created from BioCaching mobile app

Posted on August 24, 2014 03:50 PM by charlie charlie | 16 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

August 21, 2014

Trip 5 - test (Trip)

This is test Trip created from BioCaching mobile app

Posted on August 21, 2014 12:57 AM by charlie charlie | 1 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

January 11, 2013

Sketch Plant IDs

For those who are wondering about the plant sketches and the associated IDs... the ID was provided by the excellent Vermont botanists/ecologists Cathy Paris and Liz Thompson (and in the case of some ferns Dave Barrington) so if it looks wrong, it is due to the sketch, not the initial plant id. Some of them can't be verified to research grade but I still think they are fun. Haven't had much time to sketch lately, and it's not too fun outdoors in the winter anyway... but maybe next spring.

Posted on January 11, 2013 12:24 PM by charlie charlie | 2 comments | Leave a comment