Benin - iNaturalist World Tour

Today, we start our 11th Week on the iNaturalist World Tour. This week, we'll visit Benin in Africa, Iceland, Bulgaria, Slovenia, and Armenia in Europe, Fiji in Oceania, and Guatemala in North America.


We begin in Benin (in case you were expecting Armenia, we updated all the World Tour stats today to include data from August 2019 and the order shifted a bit). The top observer is @oebenin which is an account associated with a a Benin NGO working on education and nature conservation around Pendjari National Parc. Several other top observers have observations centered near this park including the 9th top observer @mattiamenchetti, a zoologist based in Barcelona, @tsuchan and @bahleman. The second top observer is @didolanvijustin who is studying natural resources at the University of Parakou. Parakou is the largest city in northern Benin and is where the observations of many top observers such as @prosper, @frdric71, @pascaltayewo, @tovihessi, and @ogaoue have the most observations. @ogaoue is an assistant professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Tennessee Knoxville who conducts research in Africa. The third top observer is @oddb, and account associated with the Organisation pour le Développement Durable et la Biodiversité (ODDB) which is a non-governmental, non-profit entity that spearheads the protection of threatened primates and their habitats in Benin. @oddb's observations are clustered in near the capital of Cotonou which is also an important biogeographic area known as the Dahomey Gap which is a savannah gap between the Lower Guinean forests to the East and the Upper Guinean forests to the west. Several other top observers such as @gab00229 and @belsun have observations clustered in this area. Don't miss this trailcam photo of an Abyssinian Roller midflight by @oebenin which was an Observation of the Day.


The number of observations per month has been growing rapidly in Benin this year. In fact, it jumped the queue from Week 11 to Week 10 when we added the August 2019 data mainly due to the efforts of @didolanvijustin. Whats driving this recent growth in Benin?


@jakob is the top identifier and leads in most of the categories. @jakob needs no introduction on iNaturalist where he has been an outsized force in the community and source of knowledge for many parts of the globe for many years, but he describes himself on his profile as a spatial ecologist, with a focus on African bats. @johnnybirder, originally from South Africa, is the second top identifier. @marcoschmidtffm leads in plant identifications as he does for many African countries. @calebcam leads in herp identifications and @ldacosta leads in bird identifications.


What can we do to improve iNaturalist in Benin? Please share your thoughts below or on this forum thread. Also what makes tiny Benin so well represented on iNaturalist relative to other African countries? Are there lessons we can learn?

@oebenin @didolanvijustin @oddb @prosper @frdric71 @jakob @johnnybirder @marcoschmidtffm @calebcam @ldacosta

We’ll be back tomorrow with the Iceland as we play catchup from some of the reshuffling in the order due to adding the August 2019 data.

Posted by loarie loarie, September 03, 2019 06:57

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Most observations in Benin are connected with the projects "Biota of the WAP complex" and "Parakou BioBlitz". More infos on the WAP project can be found on the project page, including some guides and on https://www.researchgate.net/publication/311730324

Posted by marcoschmidtffm 19 days ago (Flag)
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Posted by jakob 19 days ago (Flag)
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So happy to show up on one more country map. I am amazed by the progress in number of records Benin has over past few months. @belsun I am sure you are going to have really good data-sets very soon. Please try to involve your students in posting and identifying.

Posted by vijaybarve 19 days ago (Flag)
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Glad to see how more and more interrested Beninese scientists are in biodiversity primary data publishing!
Thanks to @vijaybarve to have introduced Us to this interresting platform!
The best is next to come!

Posted by gab00229 19 days ago (Flag)
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Thank you for this report indeed the engine of this recent growth in Benin is due to the initiatives of people who promote Inaturalist. As Marcoschmidtff says most of the observations in Benin are related to the projects "Biota of the WAP complex" and "Parakou Bio Blitz".

If we take the case of the project "Biota of the WAP complex" the NGO @oebenin through one of its influential and active members on behalf of: Dr. Horst OEBEL who promotes Inaturalist even in primary schools in turn of the WAP Complex which explains this growth and I reassure you that "if you give a smartphone to a schoolboy in this area you will have a growth that you could not explain" I know what I'm talking about since I'm one of the trainers for this program developed by the NGO @oebenin.

Currently we are in the rainy season a flowering period for many plant species which allows a high concentration of insects and together with the NGO @oebenin we set ourselves in objectives is more observation for the diversity of this class which is not well known in this area of the WAP complex a way for us to contribute to science and learn. You will have noticed.
The second case "Parakou BioBlitz" is the work of Professor GAOUE who is an assistant in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, which conducts research in Africa. He introduced some students to Inaturalist and empowered others to reveal to the world the biodiversity of the largest city in the north. Today natural resource students at Parakou University are able to contribute with their observations on the ground. What is interesting Professor GAOUE to set up a motivation system for students who will make more observations.
This is according to month what has boosted the engine of this recent growth in Benin.
To improve inaturalist in Benin?
You would have noticed on your map publish all regions of the country are not represented for the observations a problem that should be solved.
The ideal is that we have an idea of all the biodiversity of the whole country on Inaturalist that will allow us to control and to have reliable information for example on the migratory route of certain species according to the periods of observations.
In my opinion to improve:
- set up an Inaturalist network in the 02 major universities of the country which are located in the south and north of the country (this network will take into account the students of Licenses and Masters at the end of training in natural resources) there we can be reassured that every holiday, vacation, end of training we will have data from all localities of the country since each student comes from one region to another this will improve inaturalist in Benin.
- Build capacity
- Material supports (cameras equipped with GPS, smartphones, Internet)
- Primer the best observations and observers
- Valued the best images.
- Support NGOs that are already doing the greatest field work.

What makes small Benin so well represented on inaturalist compared to other African countries?
- The presence of the leaders concerned with the conservation of the biodiversity which make concrete like (Dr Horst OEBEL, professor GAOUE)
- Presence of programs that support biodiversity conservation
- Interest of international researchers who, by their presence, let young people know

Are there any lessons we can learn?
Work and passion

Posted by bahleman 18 days ago (Flag)
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Thanks for the post, @bahleman and for all your nice observations! I also think, that it would be good to start a student project at Abomey-Calavi University or other places in Benin as well (@bsinsin @assede ?). However, in order to make this useful for the students and the reuse of observation data, it would be necessary to have not just a lot of observers/observations, but also skilled identifiers beyond the 10-20 most frequent urban weed species. (That's my impression for plants, but may well be true for other taxa as well.)

Posted by marcoschmidtffm 17 days ago (Flag)

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