Journal archives for July 2019

July 01, 2019

Italy - iNaturalist World Tour

Today, we start the second week of the iNaturalist World Tour with seven new countries to explore. Unlike last week, none of these countries have English as their primary language. Three are in Europe (Italy, Germany, France), two are in East Asia (Hong Kong and Taiwan), along with Colombia in South America, and Russia straddling Eurasia.

Most of the top 50 observers in Italy are located in the north with a smaller group near Rome and representing the southern parts of the country.

Growth in number of observations per month in Italy is seasonal peaking around May or June. 2019 has been the biggest year so far, but the rate of growth seems to have slowed slightly relative to 2018. Italy was well represented in the 2019 City Nature Challenge, but only 3 participating cities (Vicenza, Naples, Roma) use iNaturalist while 6 others (Catania, Lecce, Ostuni, Taranto, Trento, Trinitapoli) used a Spanish fork of an older version of iNaturalist.

As in Mexico and South Africa, herps are in the top 4 categories. This is likely due to @danieleseglie's long running Italian Herps project

We’ll be back tomorrow with Hong Kong! In the meantime what can we do to improve iNaturalist in Italy? Please share your thoughts below or on this forum thread

@bferrero @nicolascatassi @lauragola @marcorastelli @leibele @danieleseglie @smuele @ldacosta @filippoceccolini @finrod

Posted on July 01, 2019 03:01 PM by loarie loarie | 15 comments | Leave a comment

July 02, 2019

Hong Kong - iNaturalist World Tour

Hong Kong, the ninth stop on the iNaturalist World Tour, is our first visit to Asia.

In Hong Kong, a slowly growing core community of users like @sunnetchan @portioid & @hkmoths have provided a foundation of expertise that has allowed events geared at wider audiences to be successful and well curated. The three spikes on the graph below are 3 such events all organized by @shellfishgene and his colleagues. In order they were
City Nature Challenge 2018 (in which Hong Kong placed 10th), a CNC associated inter-school challenge, and CNC 2019 (in which Hong Kong placed 11th). @shellfishgene's outreach efforts for each of these events has been very impressive!

Insects top the species categories. This is likely in large part a result of @hkmoths expertise in moths.

We’ll be back tomorrow with Russia! In the meantime what can we do to make iNaturalist work better in Hong Kong? Please share your thoughts below or on this forum thread

@sunnetchan @sk2 @i14ehkreeffish @portioid @alankwok @hkmoths @cosmophasis @morimami @thui @wkcheng71

Posted on July 02, 2019 02:14 PM by loarie loarie | 9 comments | Leave a comment

July 03, 2019

Russia - iNaturalist World Tour

Russia is the 10th stop on the iNaturalist World Tour. The top 50 observers on iNaturalist span the country. Most, like @velibortravoved, are based in the western part of the country including the Moscow area. There is also a large group including @evgenyboginsky in the area around the Altai Republic. The efforts of @snv2 and others are centered around Vladivostok in the far south east. Even the Kamchatka Peninsula is represented through @borisbolshakov's efforts as well as the Caucus mountains through @ramazan_murtazaliev's efforts.

10-я остановка тура iNaturalist по миру - Россия. Топ 50 наблюдателей разбросаны по всей территории страны. На западе страны, включая Москву и область, базируется большинство - как @velibortravoved. Кроме того крупная группа наблюдателей, в том числе @evgenyboginsky, сосредоточена в районе Республики Алтай. Усилия @snv2 и других направлены на окрестности Владивостока на крайнем юго-востоке. Камчатский полуостров представлен благодаря @borisbolshakov, a горы Кавказа - благодаря @ramazan_murtazaliev.

Growth of iNaturalist in Russia has been sudden and surprising. A large part is due to the very successful Flora of Russia project, under the leadership of @apseregin from Moscow University where herbarium based research was complemented by using iNaturalist. This project has just crossed the 100K threshold.

I suspect the efforts of @dschigel, who is Russian and works for GBIF, were responsible for introducing many Russians to iNaturalist. @dschigel started by coordinating translation efforts, then he and his colleagues began running bioblitzes using iNaturalist as satellite events at conferences and courses associated with GBIF-related outreach and activities. They've also done a great deal of outreach on social media including Facebook and its Russian analogue, Vkontakte. It's likely that the Russian love of hiking and being in the countryside is a large part of why iNaturalist has caught on so quickly in the country, but it takes effective local outreach and leadership from people like @dschigel and @apseregin to introduce people to the platform.

Прирост iNaturalist в России стал резким и неожиданным. По большей части это связано с успехом проекта "Флора России" под руководством @apseregin из МГУ, в котором гербарные работы ведутся при помощи платформы iNaturalist. Этот проект буквально недавно перешагнул 100-тысячный порог.

Я (@loarie) также полагаю, что сказались и усилия @dschigel, который знакомит своих соотечественников с iNaturalist: он из России и работает в GBIF. @dschigel координировал перевод (платформы на русский), а также сообщил мне, что он и его коллеги обычно проводят с помощью iNaturalist Биоблитцы (соревнования), как дополнительные мероприятия, во время конференций и курсов по ознакомлению и работе с GBIF. Большой охват (аудитории) был также проведен при помощи социальных сетей - Facebook и VK. Вполне вероятно, что любовь россиян к пребыванию на природе и походам послужила поводом к быстрому завоеванию популярности в стране, но чтобы познакомить людей с платформой, необходимы эффективное донесение информации и лидерство от таких людей, как @dschigel и @apseregin.

Plants and birds top the species categories in Russia, likely due to the success of the Flora of Russia effort and keen birder watchers like @birdchuvashia and @tomegatherion

Растения и птицы возглавляют списки категорий видов в России благодаря усилиям проекта "Флора России" и энергичным наблюдателям за птицами - @birdchuvashia и @tomegatherion.

We’ll be back tomorrow with Colombia! Meanwhile what can we do to make iNaturalist work even better in Russia and sustain this growth? Please share your thoughts below or on this forum thread

@snv2 @velibortravoved @apseregin @eduard_garin @merlu @phlomis_2019 @convallaria1128 @kastani @julia_shner @alexeiebel
(Thanks to kastani for the Russian translation of this post)

Posted on July 03, 2019 03:23 PM by loarie loarie | 18 comments | Leave a comment

July 04, 2019

Colombia - iNaturalist World Tour

Colombia, the 11th stop on the iNaturalist World Tour, is one of the most biodiverse countries on the planet and our first stop on the South American continent. Most of the top 50 observers from Colombia are clustered around Bogota and Medellin in the Andes region. From the Bogota area, you can read more about top observer and self-taught naturalist @mateohernandezschmidt in this article. Meanwhile, @camilojotage and @dwkfoster lead in the Medellin area. @miguel1080 is the top observer from the Caribbean region.

As early as 2011, @juandaza's Amphibians and Reptiles of Colombia project was using iNaturalist in Colombia out of the Museo de Herpetología Universidad de Antioquia. But growth in Colombia began to steadily increase following the launch of Naturalista Colombia, the Colombian node of the iNaturalist Network administered by the Instituto Humboldt. Many thanks to @carolinasoto and her colleagues for all their work coordinating this effort. Peaks from City Nature Challenge are an important part of the graph. Medellin (in addition to Bogota) participated first time in 2019 bringing in new expertise from participants such as @anabenavides from the Medellín Botanic Garden and interesting finds such as this rare orchid observed during the challenge by @sebastian34.

Many thanks to @mateohernandezschmidt @camilojotage and @julianbiol for being such important identifiers as well as observers!

We’ll be back tomorrow with Germany! Meanwhile, please share your thoughts below or on this forum thread on what we can do to make iNaturalist even better in Colombia.

@mateohernandezschmidt @camilojotage @dwkfoster @germansarmientocruz @gesnerio @julianbiol @mateohernandezschmidt @diegoamaya @juan_carlos_caicedo_hernandez @sebastianberrio

Posted on July 04, 2019 04:29 PM by loarie loarie | 4 comments | Leave a comment

July 05, 2019

Germany - iNaturalist World Tour

We return to Europe to visit Germany, the 12th stop on the iNaturalist World Tour. Here, the top 50 observers are clustered near cities around central Germany: @amzamz near Saarbrucken, @martingrimm near Leipzig, @reddad @anro near Heidelberg, others near Hannover, Bonn, and Berlin etc.

iNaturalist has been growing rapidly in Germany. There's strong seasonality to the observations per month graph. The spike in August last year is an artifact of @ahospers importing his observations from

@jakob is a prolific identifier in Germany - as well as across much of Europe and the African continent. @rolftheobo is leading identifications of plants, the group with most observations in Germany.

Even though iNaturalist is growing rapidly in Germany, it is still very small compared to similar sites like which are much more widely known and used. Please share your ideas below or on this forum thread on what we can do to make iNaturalist better in Germany!

@amzamz @martingrimm @reddad @anro @jakob @ldacosta @rolftheobo @wouterteunissen @alexis_orion @speedy

We’ll be back tomorrow with Taiwan!

Posted on July 05, 2019 03:05 PM by loarie loarie | 13 comments | Leave a comment

July 06, 2019

Hiding Comments on iNaturalist

The iNaturalist community continues to grow and, as we brought up in a previous blog post about Community Guidelines, that does mean more instances of iNaturalist users posting objectionable content or otherwise behaving poorly (although this is still a small fraction of behavior on iNat).

Site curators previously had the ability to delete any comments by another, but we are now limiting that ability, at least on observations, to simply hiding objectionable comments. This was proposed and discussed in the iNaturalist Forum here.

Now, if a site curator finds that a comment (and this includes comments attached to identifications) is insulting, obscene, hate speech, or clearly spam, they can hide the comment (although they must provide a reason for their action). Let me give you an example of how this works. I should probably state that the comment here is not something that should be hidden, and the stated reason for hiding it is facetious, but I thought it best to be use a non-offensive comment as an example here.

A hidden comment will look like this to everyone who is not the commenter, a site curator, or an iNaturalist staff member:

The commenter, site curators, and iNaturalist staff will see this:

If they click on “Show Hidden Content,” they will see the comment, who created it, which curator hid the comment, and the curator’s stated reason for hiding it. Anyone will be able to see the Moderation History link, and the commenter will also see the Contact Support link.

Comments will not be hidden on mobile apps until we update the mobile apps to support this feature. That should be soon.

The commenter will not be able to delete or edit their comment while it is hidden, and iNaturalist staff are the only ones who can unhide a comment. The commenter (or another curator) can reach out to if they believe the comment should not be hidden. iNaturalist staff will need to provide a reason for unhiding the comment.

We believe this new functionality is an improvement over the current system for the following reasons:

  • Deleting another user’s content is a pretty consequential action. This allows site curators (without whom iNaturalist would cease to function - thank you curators!) to hide objectionable comments on observations without deleting it.
  • It improves transparency. The commenter, site curators, and iNaturalist staff can see who hid the comment and why they did so. 
  • There have been some users who will make an offensive or insulting comment, then delete or edit the comment once the intended target has seen it, or once it has been flagged. This should prevent the majority of these cases, and leave a record for staff or curators to investigate if needed.
  • A visible indicator of a hidden comment can provide context to discussions. For example, in this observation there is no indication that jimjohnson’s comment is in response to anything. 

If you are not a curator and you see a comment which clearly violates iNaturalist’s Community Guidelines (especially those under the Suspendable Offenses category), please flag the comment so a curator can take a look, or email The hiding functionality currently only applies to comments on observations, but it’s possible we will expand it to other types of content, such as entire observations, IDs, comments on flags, etc. And as with any feature, this is subject to future changes, updates, or perhaps even deprecation.

If you notice any bugs, please notify us on the iNaturalist Community Forum.

Posted on July 06, 2019 12:56 AM by tiwane tiwane | 11 comments | Leave a comment

Taiwan - iNaturalist World Tour

Taiwan is the 13th stop on the iNaturalist World Tour. Although @doggy0406, the top observer, is the chairman of Yunlin Wild Bird Association, his observations span many types of organisms in addition to birds. Other top observers are associated with The Society of Wilderness including @luoycy, @wallacechen, @max822, @maxhsieh, @chinaberryhuang, and @kinmatsu. Several top observers are associated with National Chiayi University (@mutolisp, @shinochen, @chendada), Tunghai University (@penlock), and the Endemic Species Research Institute of Taiwan (@linscott, @papilioshih). @pseudoshuigeeee is a bird-watching guide.

iNaturalist has been growing rapidly in Taiwan thanks to the leadership of Cheng-Tao Lin (@mutolisp) who has done an incredible amount of outreach within Taiwan while also leading efforts to translate and localize the platform. In the past year, The Society of Wilderness used iNaturalist as part of their annual habitat investigation and conservation activities. You can read the report here. You can find several projects here associated with the effort. 2019 was also the first year Taiwan participated in the City Nature Challenge. In Chiayi, The Society of Wilderness recorded 10k observation and 2187 species during April. @mutolisp and others also worked to introduce iNaturalist in biodiversity and environmental education courses in several universities including the National Chiayi University and Tunghai University.

The top vascular plant identifier in Taiwan is Chia-Lun Hsieh (@galanhsnu), a research assistant of Biodiversity Research Center, Academia Sinica. @galanhsnu is followed by Po-Chung Chen (@pochung). @pochung is an enviromnental educator and has taught several courses to engage youth in nature. @yuchuan is the top insect identifier. Many of the moth identifications in Taiwan on iNaturalist can be traced to participants in the Taiwan Moth Information Center. This effort to create an online moth database is led by Hsu-Hong Lin, the chief secretary of the The Endemic Species Research Institute of Taiwan.

Many thanks to @mutolisp for providing most of the research used in this post. Please share your ideas below or on this forum thread on what we can do to make iNaturalist even better in Taiwan!

@doggy0406 @pseudoshuigeeee @luoycy @wallacechen @stevenson1002 @galanhsnu @pochung @dtmed9 @leaf1234 @chinaberryhuang

We’ll be back tomorrow with France!

Posted on July 06, 2019 04:13 PM by loarie loarie | 6 comments | Leave a comment

July 07, 2019

France - iNaturalist World Tour

We wrap up week 2 of the iNaturalist World Tour in France. Top observers are well distributed across the country. There are clusters of top observers around Montpellier (e.g. @jujurenoult) and Paris (e.g. @brunodurand). @fabienpiednoir is based near Nice, @pdubois near Lyon, and @zanskar on the island of Corsica.

The number of observations per month from France has doubled the last couple of years. Like most countries in Europe, there is a strong seasonal pattern in the graph.

While @weimenroy is the top identifier in France, @mercantour has identified the most plants, @pdubois the most insects and spiders, and @ldacosta the most birds.

While iNaturalist use has been growing in France, I believe its still relatively little used in the country. What can we do to make iNaturalist work better in France? Please share your thoughts below or on this forum post

@fabienpiednoir @pdubois @jujurenoult @tkoffel @zanskar @perkpenn @brunodurand @weimenroy @mercantour @pierrenoel

We’ll be back tomorrow with Ecuador!

Posted on July 07, 2019 05:32 PM by loarie loarie | 24 comments | Leave a comment

July 08, 2019

Sea Slugs on the Elkhorn Slough - Observation of the Week, 7/7/19


Our Observation of the Week is this Navanax inermis sea slug, seen in the United States by lmkitayama

“At work they call me the Slug Queen,” says Lauren Kitayama, an Assistant Manager at Kayak Connection in California. “Daylight permitting, I paddle once a week before work on the Elkhorn Slough. A couple of years ago, if you'd asked any of the local guides they might have said there were 5 species of sea slug on the slough. Last year I documented 27!”

The slug seen above was one of twenty Navanax inermis she spotted that morning, and said they were mating on the sea lettuce near the dock at work. “They are one of my favorite slugs,” she says,

They are large enough for people to appreciate, and so absolutely beautiful! I love using them to get people excited about the unloved slimy things that live in the ocean. One of my goals is always to show people something they never even imagined existed on the planet, and Navanax are a great opportunity to do that. As a kayak guide I work with a lot of school children, and love having the chance to inspire them to protect and appreciate the natural world around them.

While nudibranchs are the most commonly known order of sea slug, the Navanax inermis belongs to an entirely different order: Cephalaspidea, or the headshield slugs. Most members of this order, including the California Aglaja, do have a shell, but it is usually either tiny or internal. Navanax inermis are large slugs, growing anywhere from 2.5 to 10 inches (6.35 - 25.4 cm) in length, and they prey upon other gastropods and even small fish!

image (6)

Lauren (above) earned a Masters in Marine Conservation from the University of Miami (FL), where she focused on the impacts of marine debris. “I am zealous about protecting the oceans from plastic...[and] someday I hope to work for the UN attacking the plastic pollution problem in Southeast Asia.” For now, however, she says she loves her current job, and tells me 

My favorite thing is to see something I've never seen before. "I don't know" is my favorite answer to the question, "what is it?" I think that's how this whole slug thing started. They are beautiful, and most people would never look for them/see them without a guide. For whatever reason my slug observation skills are great. Can't find my keys half the time (or the sunglasses that are on my head), but a 9 mm sea slug hiding in a patch of kelp... no problem.

With my ecologist brain, I am excited to continue documenting slugs on the slough to see if a temporal pattern emerges (when are particular species showing up? Are they predictably in the same locations year after year?) I try very hard to get a photo of every species I see every week so that I can continue to document their presence/absence on the slough.

- by Tony Iwane.

- Check out Lauren’s Litter Mermaid projects and blog!

- And her sea slug observations.

- Watch a Navanax inermis eating a California Seahare.

- And watch a pair mating!

Posted on July 08, 2019 01:56 AM by tiwane tiwane | 6 comments | Leave a comment

Ecuador - iNaturalist World Tour

We've reached the third week of the iNaturalist World Tour! This week, we'll visit Ecuador, Brazil, & Costa Rica in Latin America, Portugal & Spain on the Iberian Peninsula in Europe, and India & Malaysia in Asia.

¡Hemos llegado a la tercera semana del iNaturalist Tour Mundial! Esta semana, visitaremos Ecuador, Brasil y Costa Rica en América Latina, Portugal y España en la Península Ibérica en Europa, e India y Malasia en Asia.

Let's kick the week off in Ecuador! The map below shows the top 50 observers zoomed out to see all of Ecuador including the Galapagos Islands. In the Galapagos the top observers in the area around Santa Cruz Island seem to be mostly visitors from the United States (e.g. @johngsalamander). There have been several projects using iNaturalist in the Galapagos organized by the Charles Darwin Foundation, California Academy of Sciences, National Geographic, and others.

¡Vamos a empezar la semana en Ecuador! El mapa muestra los 50 principales observadores alejados para ver todo el Ecuador, incluidas las Islas Galápagos. En las Galápagos, los principales observadores estan en el área alrededor de la Isla Santa Cruz. Parecen ser en su mayoría visitantes de los Estados Unidos (por ejemplo, @johngsalamander). Hay varios proyectos usando iNaturalist en Galapagos organizado por la Fundación Charles Darwin, la Academia de Ciencias de California, National Geographic y otros.

Here's the same map zoomed in to show more detail from continental Ecuador. At this scale we can make out a distinct cluster of top observers around Quito (e.g. @rudygelis, @holgerbeck, @david_torres etc.). There's a second distinct cluster around Tena in the Amazon (e.g. @mcclarinj, @darwin20, @liz226, etc.). Other top observers like @damontighe are focused elsewhere in the country such as @jcamacho in Santa Elena near the Pacific Coast.

Aquí está el mismo mapa ampliado para mostrar más detalles del Ecuador continental. En esta escala, podemos distinguir un grupo distinto de observadores principales alrededor de Quito (por ejemplo, @rudygelis, @holgerbeck, @david_torres, etc.). Hay un segundo grupo distinto alrededor de Tena en el Amazonas (por ejemplo, @mcclarinj, @ darwin20, @ liz226, etc.). Otros observadores como @damontighe están enfocados en otros lugares del país, como @jcamacho en Santa Elena, cerca de la costa del Pacífico.

Beginning in 2011, @the_biodiversity_group (led by Dr. Paul Hamilton) organized several events using iNaturalist around Ecuador. But the number of observations per month began ramping up over the last year once Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad (INABIO) under the leadership of @inclandj began promoting iNaturalist through bioblitzes and classes such as Entomologia General UCE in Quito. The huge peak in April 2019 resulted from a very successful showing in the 2019 City Nature Challenge in the Amazonian city of Tena organized by the INABIO in collaboration with IKIAM University

A partir de 2011, @the_biodiversity_group (dirigido por el Dr. Paul Hamilton) organizó varios eventos utilizando iNaturalist en todo Ecuador. Pero el número de observaciones por mes comenzó a aumentar en el último año una vez que el Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad (INABIO), bajo el liderazgo de @inclandj, comenzó a promocionar iNaturalist mediante bioblitzes y clases como Entomologia General UCE en Quito. El aumento en abril de 2019 fue el resultado de una exitosa exhibición en el Reto Naturalista Urbano 2019 en la ciudad amazónica de Tena, organizada por el INABIO en colaboración con la Universidad IKIAM.

INABIO's contributions can be seen in the graph below where top identifiers @felipecampos, @jorgebrito, and @osita are affiliated. Many thanks to @afid @johnascher @johngsalamander and @maractwin for their identifications of plants, birds, herps, and fish respectively.

Las contribuciones de INABIO se pueden ver en el siguiente gráfico. Los principales identificadores @felipecampos, @jorgebrito y @osita están afiliados a INABIO. Muchas gracias a @afid @johnascher @johngsalamander y @maractwin por sus identificaciones de plantas, aves,
reptiles y anfibios, y peces respectivamente.

What can we do to keep up this momentum in Ecuador? Please share your thoughts below or on this forum post.

¿Qué podemos hacer para mantener este impulso en Ecuador? Por favor, comparte tus pensamientos a continuación o en este post del foro.

@rudygelis @damontighe @david_torres @mcclarinj @holgerbeck @felipecampos @vechocho @cstobie @rudygelis @johnascher

We’ll be back tomorrow with Malaysia!

Volveremos mañana con Malasia!

Posted on July 08, 2019 07:34 PM by loarie loarie | 8 comments | Leave a comment