Citizen Science and iNaturalist at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

Our own Citizen Science department here at the California Academy of Sciences (led by 2017 Bay Nature Environmental Education Award Winners @kestrel and @rebeccafay) does a great job of implementing iNaturalist in their work, and so do our friends (and City Nature Challenge co-organizers and friendly rivals) at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (@natureinla). So last year I traveled south and interviewed members of their Citizen Science (now called Community Science) department as well as some researchers who are using iNaturalist, all of whom graciously gave up part of their day to talk with me on camera.

I made videos and blog posts about specific projects and researchers over the past few months (links at the bottom) but wanted to create one more video that sums up their overall approach to using iNaturalist as a way to build community and generate great biological data in an urban environment. They’re game to keep up engagement with the public and do so in a positive, approachable way, even making the effort to meet some iNat users in the field to gather specimens and confirm sightings. Data from their projects have been used to petition the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for Endangered Species status, study Alligator Lizard mating behavior, and map squirrel range expansion.

If you or your institution are thinking of using iNaturalist for outreach and for gathering data, they provide a great model to start with.

Many thanks to @lhiggins, @smartrf, @gregpauly, @jannvendetti and @mordenana for speaking with me and for doing great things with iNat.

If you’re a part of NHMLA’s Community Science endeavors, or know other examples of excellent iNat use, please share in the comments!

- Tony Iwane

  • Herpetologist Dr. Greg Pauly discusses iNat use to collect urban range and behavioral data.

  • Wildlife biologist Miguel Ordeãna talks squirrels and the importance of staying engaged if you’re running a project.

  • Malacologist Dr. Jann Vendetti makes the case for the importance of mapping snails, and meeting iNat users to collect specimens.

(Photo by @alex_bairstow, depicting a rare sinistral (”left-handed”) Garden Snail with a dextral (”right-handed”) one. The sinistral one was donated to NHMLA.)

Posted by tiwane tiwane, February 16, 2018 11:35 PM


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