Journal archives for August 2019

August 01, 2019

Austria - iNaturalist World Tour

Austria is the 39th stop on the iNaturalist World Tour. The top observer is @carnifex who is based around the capital of Vienna
along with @t0ntie, @lrasran, @kumpelblase, @pearmonger and others. Top observer @gernotkunz is at the Karl Franzens University of Graz where he has been contributing a lot of observations of the generally neglected leaf and planthoppers. @carnifex tells us he also continues to introduce iNat to his students and already recruited several users from the region. The area around Graz in Styria is now well covered with observers and observations, mainly due to his efforts. We already mentioned @gernotkunz's research in the Costa Rica post and you can check out his "Animals of Costa Rica" app here. Other top observers around Sytria include @botanico and @leolorber. @bryoniad12's observations are clustered in Carinthia and @mondseeirrsee's along the boundary between Salzburg and Upper Austria. @jeremybarker's observations are centered near Lake Constanz along the Swiss border.


iNaturalist has been growing rapidly in Austria. The peak in August 2017 is when we helped @carnifex migrate over some of his observations from the Observado platform. In June 2018, @gernotkunz started to use the site extensively, which probably contributed to the uptick there.


@carnifex is another example of single person holding top observer and top identifier positions in a country. @borisb, @epsilon, and @ldacosta lead in insect, plant and bird identifications respectively. Thanks to other top identifiers such as @amzamz, @horticultix, and @honspera


What can we do to help iNaturalist grow in Austria? Please share your thoughts below or on this forum thread

@carnifex @gernotkunz @botanico @mondseeirrsee @t0ntie @jeremybarker @borisb @epsilon @ldacosta @amzamz

We’ll be back tomorrow with the Israel!

Posted on August 01, 2019 18:47 by loarie loarie | 7 comments | Leave a comment

August 02, 2019

A Video of Mazatlán's 2019 City Nature Challenge

I’ll keep this brief because it’s already taken me way too long to get this video out.

A few years ago, my friend Liam O’Brien (@robberfly) - who I met through iNaturalist - told me about his recent trip to Paco’s Reserva de flora y fauna in Mazatlán, Mexico, and about the incredible naturalists he met there, such as Paco, Sr. and Paco, Jr, and Diego Barrales. It sounded like an incredible experience. So when Liam invited me to come along for this year’s City Nature Challenge, I was really excited to make my first big trip to Mexico, as well as record some video of the proceedings. 

It was an extraordinary few days, and everyone I met was incredibly warm, kind, and inviting, in addition to being an incredible naturalist. Some had traveled from other parts of Mexico, others were local, but we were all united by a love of nature and a perhaps slightly obsessive drive to document it all. My Spanish is pretty much non existent, but we could still communicate via scientific names and excited gestures despite the language barrier.  

It was amazing to watch everyone pile into the van after a hike and immediately start opening up the iNat app; some discussed their finds, while at least one other person was always checking in on how Mazatlán was stacking up against the other cities. The community aspect of iNaturalist is, I believe, truly its greatest strength, and I could see it in action all around me. 

What follows is a short montage of clips from the Mazatlán City Nature Challenge, 2019, and comments by some of the participants. I’m working on another video that’s focused more on Paco’s Reserva and their use of iNaturalist - hopefully it’ll be done sooner rather than later. English and Spanish subtitles are available for the video, just click the little “CC” logo on the bottom row of controls. 

A huge thank you to the amazing work that has been done to build the iNaturalist/Naturalista community in Mexico and everywhere around the world, to the organizers of the City Nature Challenge, and to everyone in Mazatlán who so graciously showed me around and let me stick a camera in their face.

Posted on August 02, 2019 06:01 by tiwane tiwane | 21 comments | Leave a comment

Israel - iNaturalist World Tour

Israel is the 40th stop on the iNaturalist World Tour. This is our first stop in the Middle East. The concentration of observations in the Golan region results from Israel flagship iNaturalist project: Tatzpiteva (accounting for 25K of Israel's 40K observations). 4 of the top 5 observers are Tatzpiteva members: @yairur, @ariel-shamir, @uriah, and @omerweiner, and there are many other top observers clustered in this region. Elsewhere, top observer @ronf has observations in nearly every corner of Israel, but they are centered near Jerusalem along with @bobasil and others. @merav is the top observer near Tel Aviv - the other large urban region. @yaelorgad and @centaur have observations centered in the north east.

Check out this Observation of the Week post of nudibranch sightings in Israel by @barchana. Also, this Observation of the Week post is from nearby Jordan, but it features a parasitic plant sighting by @fragmansapir who is currently the scientific director at the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens.


I already mentioned the Tatzpiteva project led by @ariel-shamir and @oarazy. One thing thats very interesting is that most people interact with this project, not through iNaturalist.org but through Tatzpiteva.org.il which is an app build on top of the iNaturalist API. Along with iSeahorse.org, these are the longest running external web apps built on the iNaturalist back end that we're aware of.

The observations per month graph largely reflects the growth in the Tatzpiteva project. @ariel-shamir and @oarazy tell us that "peaks" in spring and autumn are when wildlife (and observers) are most active while "valleys" in the graph, in addition to periodic cycles (less activity in summer) indicate periods of technological problems with the Tatzpiteva app, as well as periods when the project faced administrative challenges. Growth in 2019 reflects the initiation of new projects. For example, as part of the Taking Citizen Science to School initiative, the Tatzpiteva team encourages schoolteachers to employ iNaturalist for their nature observation projects. Similarly, @elisheva1 and @anatbnevo organized City Nature Challenge: Tel Aviv for the first time this year.


The top identifier overall and in nearly every species category is @ariel-shamir from the Tatzpiteva project. For birds and mammals, @sammyboy2059, also a member of Tatzpiteva, is the leading identifier. For the Fish category, the leading identifier is @maractwin - indicating the importance of out-of-the-country members to Israeli iNaturalist projects. Special thanks to @ronf, who is the 2nd top identifier, and also @ariehohd, @cliygh-and-mia, and others.


What can we do to help iNaturalist grow in Israel? Please share your thoughts below or on this forum thread

@yairur @uriah @ariel-shamir @ronf @omerweiner @itai @dvora @sammyboy2059 @ariehohd @cliygh-and-mia

We’ll be back tomorrow with the Thailand!

Posted on August 02, 2019 20:47 by loarie loarie | 5 comments | Leave a comment

August 03, 2019

Thailand - iNaturalist World Tour

Thailand is the 41st stop on the iNaturalist World Tour. Top observers in Thailand appear to be a mix of full time residents (e.g. @lesday, @nopcoeur, @tonykris) and visitors from other parts of the globe (e.g. @pam-piombino, @lennyworthington, @ahospers ). The top observer, @lesday, has observations centered in Southern Thailand. You can learn more about him in this Observation of the Week post which features one of his many butterfly observations. There are many other top users centered along the beaches of this much visited region. The observations of @pam-piombino, @lennyworthington, @nopcoeur, @jan_fischer_rasmussen and others are centered in Northern and Northeastern Thailand. There is a large cluster of top observers such as @tonykris and @ahospers around the capital of Bangkok. Also check out this Observation of the Week post featuring a Lesser Oriental Chevrotain seen in Thailand by @juddpatterson.


The number of observations per month has been growing steadily in Thailand since 2017. As of July 2019 its passed 3,000 observations per month. Its unclear how much of this growth is from an increase in visitors using iNaturalist as opposed to an increase in use by Thai citizens / resident ex-pats.


@charliev is the top identifier in Thailand and also leads the plant and herp categories. @kokhuitan is the top bird identifier lending expertise from nearby Singapore. The mysterious @noppadon leads insect identifications and @maractwin leads fish identifications. Thanks to other top identifiers such as @rajibmaulick, @nopcoeur, and @juhakinnunen.


What can we do to get more people in Thailand using iNaturalist? Please share your thoughts below or on this forum thread

@lesday @pam-piombino @lennyworthington @ahospers @nopcoeur @tonykris @charliev @kokhuitan @rajibmaulick @juhakinnunen

We’ll be back tomorrow with the Tanzania!

Posted on August 03, 2019 14:36 by loarie loarie | 4 comments | Leave a comment

August 04, 2019

Tanzania - iNaturalist World Tour

We finish Week 6 of the iNaturalist World Tour in Tanzania. Here, @martingrimm is the top observer with observations clustered in an arch from the capital of Dar es Salaam south east to the Udzungwa mountains. Activity of most of the other top observers is centered around the two flagship protected areas Serengeti and Ngorongoro near the border with Kenya (e.g. @davidbygott, @wildnothos, @avocat, and @mikeloomis),


The number of observations per month began increasing in 2017 but seems to have leveled off for the time being around 1000 observations per month.


@jakob is the top identifier in Tanzania and also leads the insect category. While his research focuses on African bats his expertise extends to many groups of taxa across the African continent. @johnnybirder, a very keen birdwatcher originally from South Africa, leads the bird category. @ldacosta leads mammals. Thanks to many other top observers such as @calebcam, @maxallenm, and @marcoschmidtffm.


What can we do to get more people using iNaturalist in Tanzania? Are there any institutions we could collaborate with to try to get more Tanzanians and year-round residents involved? Please share your thoughts below or on this forum thread

@martingrimm @davidbygott @wildnothos @avocat @mikeloomis @jakob @johnnybirder @ldacosta @calebcam @maxallen

We’ll be back tomorrow with the Sweden!

Posted on August 04, 2019 15:16 by loarie loarie | 8 comments | Leave a comment

August 05, 2019

Sweden - iNaturalist World Tour

Today, we start Week 7 of the iNaturalist World Tour. This week will take us to Sweden, Norway, Poland, Ukraine and Lithuania in Europe, Kenya in Africa, and the Philippines in Asia.


We start the week in Sweden. The capital of Stockholm is the center of activity for the top observer, @evahedstrom, as well as @wildchroma, @annikaml, @vilseskog and others. @smithb, @cassykar, and @neomorphus have activity centered near Malmö in the south near Denmark. @keithwlarson is based in Umeå, but his Arctic research means his observations are clustered at the northern tip of Sweden. There's a cluster of other top observer's here as well (e.g. @anneschaefer). Several top observers such as @veronika_johansson, @belyykit and others have activity centered between Stockholm and Malmö along the southeastern edge of Sweden. You can read more about @veronika_johansson and her work in this Observation of the Week post featuring a sighting of Ethiopian Wolf.


The number of observations per month in Sweden is very seasonal reflecting the high latitudes. Activity bumped up in 2017 and appears to have doubled so far in 2019.


@veronika_johansson, in addition to being in the top 5 observers, is the top identifier in Sweden. She is also the top identifier for plants. As in many European countries, @borisb and @ldacosta are the top insect and bird identifiers respectively. @jmgrinde and @nannie have lent a great deal of identification expertise from nearby Norway as has @juhakinnunen from nearby Finland. Thanks to many other top identifiers in Sweden such as @korobkov and @almantas.


What can we do to improve iNaturalist in Sweden? Please share your thoughts below or on this forum thread

@evahedstrom @smithb @wildchroma @keithwlarson @veronika_johansson @annikaml @jmgrinde @ldacosta @juhakinnunen @nannie

We’ll be back tomorrow with the Kenya!

Posted on August 05, 2019 18:36 by loarie loarie | 4 comments | Leave a comment

August 06, 2019

Kenya - iNaturalist World Tour

Kenya is the 44th stop on the iNaturalist World Tour. The top observer, @designedforx has activity centered in the southeastern corner of Kenya and is associated with the REEFoultion project. Wildlife ecologist @waswala has activity centered around the capital of Nairobi along with many other top observers such as @amarzee @hfabian @seasav and @wangecimwangi. Also based near Nairobi, @mmuchai is associated with the University of Nairobi and @zarek specializes in arachnids and admins the Arachnids of East Africa project. @elliotgreiner and @mjplagens are both visitors to Kenya but have a great deal of observations clustered to the North West of Nairobi. Another visitor @kucycads has observations clustered in the Laikipia region to the north of Nairobi. This is where a several researchers who use iNaturalist in their work are based such as @paulakahumbu (check out her Wildlife Warrior projects such as this one), @dejong who runs a project on Laikipia and also on Primates of East Africa, and @blaircostelloe. @mikeloomis and @wildnothos have observations centered along the trans-frontier Serengeti region which borders Tanzania. Several top observers such as @mustafa_adamjee have observations centered near Tsavo National Park. Don't miss this Observation of the Week on a melanistic serval cat spotted in Kenya by @srullman.


The number of observations per month has been slowly increasing in Kenya over the last few years. Certainly many of the efforts mentioned above have helped drive this growth. @waswala, @mmuniafu (affiliated with USIU-Africa), and @sidney_shema helped organize the Nairobi City Nature Challenge this April.


Ecologist @johnnybirder, originally from South Africa, is the top observer in Kenya and also the top bird identifier. @jakob, who needs no introduction on iNaturalist, is the second top identifier and leads in mammals and insects. @marcoschmidtffm is the top plant identifier . Thanks to other top identifiers such as @ldacosta @calebcam, and @maxallen.


What can we do to get more people using iNaturalist in Kenya? Please share your thoughts below or on this forum thread

@designedforx @waswala @elliotgreiner @mjplagens @amarzee @johnnybirder @jakob @ldacosta @calebcam @maxallen

We’ll be back tomorrow with the Norway!

Posted on August 06, 2019 21:45 by loarie loarie | 7 comments | Leave a comment

August 07, 2019

Norway - iNaturalist World Tour

Norway is the 45th stop on the iNaturalist World Tour. In Norway, the top observer is @tinekk who is a prolific observer of nudibranchs in the Oslo Fjord. Other top observers with activity centered in the Oslo region include @ttyl, @geirande, @eva221, and GBIF-Norway node manager @dagendresen. @wouterkoch, a researcher at the Norwegian Biodiversity Information Centre, and botanist and educator @jmgrinde have activity centered further north along the west coast near Trondheim. Further south along the west coast near Bergen several top observers are clustered. @torsten has traveled extensively, but his Norwegian observations are clustered here as are @jornari's observations (we mentioned @jornari and his Denmark Nudibranch site in the Denmark post. World traveler @belyykit is a top observer in Norway, but the center of their activity is pulled east by observations in Sweden and Finland not relevant to this post. Check out this Observation of the Week post featuring a reindeer spotting in the far north of Norway posted by @alessandro_gentilini during a visit from Italy.


The number of observations per month are very seasonal in Norway as to be expected. @tinekk is responsible for the large spike in September 2017. This July the number of observations per month has reached a new high of around 4,000 observations per month.


The disproportionate impact of @tinekk's nudibranch observations on iNaturalist in Norway is making for an interesting graph below. For the first time, mollusks are the second largest species category based on number of observations. Scandanavian nudibranch specialist @jornari isn't just the top identifier for that category, but he is the top identifier in Norway overall. Likewise, nudibranch specialist @jpsilva is the third top identifier. @jmgrinde is the 2nd top identifier from Norway and also leads the plant category. @veronika_johansson has lent a great deal of identification expertise from nearby Sweden as have @juhakinnunen, @borisb, and @ldacosta from elsewhere in Europe. Thanks to all the other top identifiers such as @nannie, @oddegil, @tiggrx, and @wouterteunissen.


What can we do to make iNaturalist better in Norway? Please share your thoughts below or on this forum thread

@tinekk @jmgrinde @wouterkoch @ttyl @jornari @torsten1 @jmgrinde @jpsilva @veronika_johansson @juhakinnunen

We’ll be back tomorrow with the Philippines!

Posted on August 07, 2019 23:34 by loarie loarie | 9 comments | Leave a comment

August 08, 2019

A Maned Wolf in Brazil - Observation of the Week, 8/7/19

Our Observation of the Week is this Maned Wolf, seen in Brazil by @edufranco!

Chrysocyon brachyurus, known in English as the Maned Wolf, is actually not a wolf but is the sole member of its own genus, and has not been shown to be closely related to any existing canid. A large animal, adults stand at about one meter at the shoulder, but this solo hunter specializes in bringing down smaller prey, such as birds, lizards, and rodents. It supplements its carnivorous diet with a large amount of plant material, including fruits, tubers, and even sugar cane. Hunted in the past, the Maned Wolf is now threatened mainly by habitat loss, disease (spread by domestic dogs), and vehicles. 

The Maned Wolf shown above was photographed by Eduardo Franco at the Caraça Sanctuary Complex in Brazil, where priests have been leaving out trays of food for the animals since 1982. Eduardo’s ethology work with Black-fronted Titi Monkeys (Callicebus nigrifrons) brought him to the sanctuary around 2006. 

In 2008, Eduardo (above) says “I had my first contact with birding and I fell in love. Never stopped.” He has since become a nature photography tour company, Destinos MG Tourism and Nature Photography. He joined iNaturalist this past November, and says 

I always looked for a place where I could deposit images of all living things I found in the field. INaturalist came up to solve this problem. Scientists, naturalists and enthusiasts from around the world connected in one place is a dream come true. I try to contribute a little with images and help on identifications.

- by Tony Iwane


- Here's a video with some nice Maned Wolf information and a recording of its "roar bark".

Posted on August 08, 2019 02:28 by tiwane tiwane | 8 comments | Leave a comment

Philippines - iNaturalist World Tour

The Philippines is the 46th stop on the iNaturalist World Tour. The top observer @maractwin, needs no introduction on iNaturalist. As a self described "avid scuba diver, fish geek and underwater photographer" its clear why he's made so many observations in the Philippines which is one of the greatest scuba diving destinations in the world. @maractwin's observations are clustered in the southern part of Luzon near the capital of Manila and the island of Mindoro alongside other scuba-focused top observers such as @tonydiver and @tgosliner. @liselle and @michaela are other top observers in this region.

On the northern part of Luzon Island @rhabdornis's observations are centered along with @paulengler and @tonyg. @rhabdornis' observations highlight the incredible Lepidoptera diversity in the Philippines. You can read more about @tonyg's connection to Luzon Island in this Observation of the Week post. Further south, @curiousann is based in the Central Visayas region. Check out her blog here. @timcameron's observations, which also have an underwater-focus, are also centered in this region. Top observers @blogie, @greg3ph, and @shelley_b have observations clustered in Mindanao to the south. Beetle researcher and National Geographic grantee @anncabras24 is also based in Mindanao and has several projects such as this one incorporating iNaturalist into her research.


There are several peaks in the Observation per month graph that reflect bursts of activity from a handful of top observers. For example, the peak in March 2015 was driven by a burst of observations near Davao by @blogie and observations by California Academy of Science researchers @tgosliner and @rmooi on Mindoro resulting from the 2015 Philippine Biodiversity Expedition. Similarly, the peaks in March and June of 2018 were driven by @rhabdornis and @maractwin respectively. During the last year, we seem to be seeing more sustained growth in the Philippines in contrast to these isolated peaks of activity.


In addition to being top observer in the Philippines, @maractwin is the top identifer. He also leads in fish identifications which is the second most "observose" category. Mollusks and 'other animals' are the third and fourth most observose categories reflecting all of the observations of marine mollusks like nudibranchs and marine organisms such as corals and echinoderms being observed by the underwater focused observers. Thanks to @hsini_lin and @phelsumas4life for lending their expertise to these two categories and all the other underwater focused top identifiers such as @kemper, @joe_fish, @sascha_schulz, and @jpsilva. The top species categories based on number of observations (with @hkmoths as the top identifier) probably reflects all the Lepidoptera observations by @rhabdornis. @shawnodonnell is the top plant identifier lending his South East Asian botany expertise. You can read about his research through the SUNDASIA project here. Is this the first country we've examined where birds aren't in the top 5 species categories?


What can we do to get more people in the Philippines using iNaturalist? Please share your thoughts below or on this forum thread

@maractwin @rhabdornis @curiousann @liselle @greg3ph @paulengler @kemper @phelsumas4life @joe_fish @hsini_lin

We’ll be back tomorrow with the Poland!

Posted on August 08, 2019 21:43 by loarie loarie | 18 comments | Leave a comment