Journal archives for April 2021

April 01, 2021

Welcome, iNaturalist Luxembourg! Wëllkomm, iNaturalist Lëtzebuerg!

Today we officially welcome iNaturalist Luxembourg as the newest member of the iNaturalist Network! Luxembourg is a small country in Europe bordering Belgium, Germany, and France with three official languages: Luxembourgish, French, and German.

iNaturalist.LU is a collaboration with the Luxembourg National Museum of Natural History (MnhnL). Since 2019 the MnhnL has actively promoted the use of iNaturalist in Luxembourg and organized citizen science projects like the City Nature Challenge using iNaturalist. The department of Digital Information about the Natural Heritage at the MnhnL, now coordinates iNaturalist.LU but also manages the national biodiversity database and is Luxembourg's national GBIF node.

MnhnL’s decision to promote iNaturalist to the local community was made to offer an easy to use digital tool to record and identify wildlife to the national naturalist and citizens science community.

The iNaturalist community in Luxembourg has grown considerably over the past two years, reaching 70,000 observations and 2,500 users at the beginning of 2021. This corresponds to about 120 observations per 1,000 inhabitants and about 29 observations per square km (for context, these numbers for the United States are 93 obs./1,000 inhabitants and 3 obs./km2). Observations can be found throughout the entire country with the highest concentration in the southern part, especially around the capital. 2021 promises to exceed every expectation with already 4 times as many observations made in the first two months compared to the same period last year.

We look forward to seeing the multilingual community in Luxembourg grow!

About the iNaturalist Network

The iNaturalist Network now has fourteen nationally-focused sites that are fully connected and interoperable with the global iNaturalist site. The sites are: Naturalista Mexico, iNaturalist Canada, iNaturalist New Zealand (formerly NatureWatchNZ), Naturalista Colombia, BioDiversity4All (Portugal), iNaturalist Panama, iNaturalist Ecuador, iNaturalist Australia, ArgentiNat (Argentina), iNaturalist Israel, iNaturalist Finland, iNaturalist Chile, iNaturalist Greece, and now iNaturalist Luxembourg. Any iNaturalist user can log in on any of the sites using their same username and password and will see the same notifications.

The iNaturalist Network model allows for localizing the iNaturalist experience to better support communities on a national scale and local leadership in the movement, without splitting the community into isolated, national sites. The iNaturalist team is grateful to the outreach, training, translations, and user support carried out through the efforts of the iNaturalist Network member institutions.

Wëllkomm, iNaturalist Lëtzebuerg!

Haut begréisse mir offiziell iNaturalist Lëtzebuerg als neiste Member vum iNaturalist Netzwierk! Lëtzebuerg ass e klengt Land an Europa a grenzt un d'Belsch, Däitschland a Frankräich mat dräi offizielle Sproochen: Lëtzebuergesch, Franséisch an Däitsch.

iNaturalist.LU ass eng Zesummenaarbecht mam Nationalmusée fir Naturgeschicht (MnhnL). Zënter 2019 huet de MnhnL aktiv d'Notzung vum iNaturalist zu Lëtzebuerg promovéiert an "citizen science" Projete wéi de City Nature Challenge mam iNaturalist organiséiert. De Service fir Digital Informatioun iwwer de Patrimoine Naturel am MnhnL koordinéiert elo iNaturalist.LU awer geréiert och déi national Biodiversitéits Datebank an ass den nationale GBIF Knuet.

D'Entscheedung vum MnhnL fir den iNaturalist bei der lokaler Gemeinschaft vu Naturwëssenschaftler an Naturbegeeschterten ze promovéiere gouf geholl fir kennen een digitalen Tool unzebidde mat deem een einfach wëll Aarten identifizéieren a erfaasse kann.

D'iNaturalist Gemeinschaft zu Lëtzebuerg ass an de leschten zwee Joer bedeitend gewuess, Ufangs 2021 goufe 70.000 Observatiounen an 2.500 Benotzer erreecht. Dëst entsprécht ongeféier 120 Observatioune pro 1.000 Awunner an ongeféier 29 Observatioune pro Quadratkilometer (fir de Kontext, dës Zuele fir d'USA sinn 3 (Obs./km2) an 93 (Obs./1.000 Awunner)). D‘Observatioune sinn am ganze Land verdeelt, awer virun allem an der südlecher Hallschent, besonnesch ronderëm d'Haaptstad ze fannen. 2021 versprécht all Erwaardung ze depasséiere mat scho 4 Mol méi gemellten Observatiounen an den éischten zwee Méint wei an der selwechter Period dat lescht Joer.

Mir freeën eis déi méisproocheg Gemeinschaft zu Lëtzebuerg wuessen ze gesinn!

Iwwert d'iNaturalist Netzwierk

D'iNaturalist Netzwierk huet elo véierzéng national fokusséiert Websäiten déi voll matenee verbonnen an interoperabel mam globalen iNaturalist Portal sinn. D'Säite sinn: Naturalista Mexiko, iNaturalist Kanada, iNaturalist Neiséiland (fréier NatureWatchNZ), Naturalista Kolumbien, BioDiversity4All (Portugal), iNaturalist Panama, iNaturalist Ecuador, iNaturalist Australien, ArgentiNat (Argentinien), iNaturalist Israel, iNaturalist Finland, iNaturalist Chile, iNaturalist Griicheland, an elo och iNaturalist Lëtzebuerg. All iNaturalist Notzer kann sech mat sengem Benotzernumm a Passwuert op all de verschiddene Säiten aloggen a gesäit ëmmer déi selwecht Notifikatiounen. De Modell vum iNaturalist Netzwierk erméiglecht et d'iNaturalist Experienz op nationalem Niveau unzepassen an déi lokal Gemeinschaft a Coordinateure vun der Beweegung besser z'ënnerstëtzen, ouni d'Gemeinschaft an isoléiert, national Säiten ze splécken. D'iNaturalist Team ass dankbar fir d'Ënnerstëtzung, d'Formatioun, d'Iwwersetzungen an d'Benotzer Betreiung duerch d'Efforte vun den iNaturalist Netzwierk Memberinstitutiounen.

Posted on April 01, 2021 04:04 by carrieseltzer carrieseltzer | 17 comments | Leave a comment

April 06, 2021

Welcome, iNaturalist United Kingdom!

iNaturalist United Kingdom is the newest member of the iNaturalist Network! iNaturalistUK is a collaboration led by the National Biodiversity Network Trust (NBN Trust) with the Marine Biological Association (MBA) and the Biological Records Centre (BRC).

The MBA is excited to utilise the iNaturalist platform to increase engagement in the marine environment and to build a community of recorders to improve our knowledge of the rich and varied marine life that is found in UK waters.

Working with MBA and BRC, the NBN Trust will be developing ways of promoting and using iNaturalist in the UK to complement the other recording tools already available to the biological recording community. These include iRecord and iSpot as well as many other platforms that are popular in the UK.

Users in the United Kingdom are encouraged to affiliate their account iNaturalistUK to allow partner organisations enhanced access to UK sightings. This won't affect existing arrangements with how your sightings are currently shared to GBIF or available to the international community.
BRC will work with National Recording Schemes to facilitate the integration of iNaturalist within UK recording systems. MBA will be building on its extensive experience in coastal BioBlitz events to increase the wildlife records openly available.

iNaturalist is a growing community within the UK. The NBN Trust with its network of members is well placed to engage with these citizen scientists and encourage greater participation in wildlife recording, particularly for groups with little previous experience.

The iNaturalist community in the United Kingdom has been growing steadily over the past few years. From around 10,000 observers in early 2019 there are now more than 55,500 observers who have recorded 15,000 species in the UK. The growth of the City Nature Challenge event in the UK has encouraged its popularity.

We look forward to watching the iNaturalist community in the UK continue to grow in its reach and impact with the support of the NBN Trust, Marine Biological Association, and Biological Records Centre.

About the iNaturalist Network

The iNaturalist Network now has fifteen nationally-focused sites that are fully connected and interoperable with the global iNaturalist site. The sites are: Naturalista Mexico, iNaturalist Canada, iNaturalist New Zealand (formerly NatureWatchNZ), Naturalista Colombia, BioDiversity4All (Portugal), iNaturalist Panama, iNaturalist Ecuador, iNaturalist Australia, ArgentiNat (Argentina), iNaturalist Israel, iNaturalist Finland, iNaturalist Chile, iNaturalist Greece, iNaturalist Luxembourg, and now iNaturalist United Kingdom. Any iNaturalist user can log in on any of the sites using their same username and password and will see the same notifications. All data from all network sites are still shared globally and fully accessible from each site using search filters.

The iNaturalist Network model allows for localizing the iNaturalist experience to better support communities and local leadership on a national scale, without splitting the community into isolated, national sites. The iNaturalist team is grateful to the outreach, training, translations, and user support carried out through the efforts of the iNaturalist Network member institutions.

Posted on April 06, 2021 02:50 by carrieseltzer carrieseltzer | 12 comments | Leave a comment

A Slime Mold and a Parasitic Fungus in the California Woods - Observation of the Week, 4/6/21

Our Observation of the Week is this Trichia botrytis slime mold (and a Polycephalomyces tomentosus fungus), seen in the United States by @alison_pollack!

The name “slime mold” is a bit misleading, as slime molds belong to their own polyphyletic group, Phylum Mycetozoa. But Alison Pollack beautifully captured both the fruiting body of a slime mold and a fungal parasite in the photo you see above. It wasn’t her first attempt, however. “Trichia botrytis is a very pretty slime mold, and I had seen it only a few times before,” she explains.

The fungus, Polycephalomyces tomentosus, parasitizes slime molds of the genus Trichia. I had seen and photographed that fungus on various Trichia species several times, but I really wanted to find a specimen where there was not so much of it so that you couldn’t see the detail. In the woods a few weeks ago, I turned a log over and saw something that looked like it might be nice, and when I looked at it with the magnifying glass I was thrilled at what I saw - not only a formation of the fungus of exactly the kind I had been looking for, but also a clean Trichia botrytis, clearly showing the characteristic bands of that species.  A wonderful and photogenic combination!

Alison’s image isn’t just one photo - at macro distances an image’s depth of field is razor thin - but rather a series of about forty-five photos, each focusing on a slightly different part of the subject. She then used software to focus stack the images, combining the parts in focus to make  a single image with greater depth of field. That’s why both the slime mold and fungus are in razor sharp focus. 

Fittingly, it was photography that sparked Alison’s recent interest in slime molds, fungi, and other tiny organisms. As a child in the suburbs of New York City she wasn’t particularly into nature, but graduate school in Wisconsin and then hikes around the Bay Area opened her eyes to it. She carried her camera with her and began to photograph mushrooms. One day, however, she came across something new.

I took a photo, and when I got home I did a Google reverse image search to figure out what it was. I quickly figured out that it was a Myxomycete, Leocarpus fragilis. I stayed up all night looking at photos of various slime molds and reading about these fascinating organisms; I was completely smitten by their beauty and their amazing life cycle. Shortly after that I bought a DSLR camera and a macro lens so I could take better photos of myxos.  And while looking for myxos, I also found many fascinating tiny fungi. 

When I am in the woods, I am often on my hands and knees, looking very closely. What I am looking for usually cannot be seen while walking. I use a light and a magnifying lens to look for my tiny subjects. The smaller they are, the more they fascinate me! I love finding and photographing myxos and tiny fungi and sharing them with people who might otherwise never see them. My goal is to inspire people to go into the woods and look for them themselves.  

Alison (above, in Alaska) previously only posted her photos on Instagram, but an acquaintance suggested she also add them to iNat, where she tries to post most of her photos now. “It's great when experts chime in and identify what I have captured,” she says, 

and I also feel like I am contributing to science because not too many people are looking for and posting things so tiny. These days I also use iNat all the time to look for where people are finding myxos and fungi; the combination of iNat and NOAA precipitation maps helps me to plan my trips to the woods. 

Photo of Alison by Bruce Welkovich (@bwelko).

- This isn’t Observation of the Week’s first slime mo(u)ld rodeo!

- Slime molds can solve mazes?

- Check out some of the most-faved slime mold observations on iNat!

Posted on April 06, 2021 20:22 by tiwane tiwane | 13 comments | Leave a comment

April 08, 2021

Recently Described Mexican Plant Named after iNaturalist/

Meet Gonolobus naturalistae, a new species of plant described in a paper published last November. This is the first species named after iNaturalist, or more specifically which is the Mexican node of the iNaturalist Network administered in partnership with the Comisión Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad (CONABIO). Naturalista was launched in 2013 as the first node of the network which now has 15 national nodes. Under the leadership of Carlos Galindo-Leal (@carlos2), the Naturalista team at CONABIO continues to do incredible work integrating iNaturalist into local outreach and conservation efforts. The decision of the authors to use their discovery as an opportunity to honor Naturalista is a testament to the impact of this work.

The story of Gonolobus naturalistae begins with Fernando Pio-León (@pioleon), a botanist in the Mexican state of Sinaloa, who came across some plants in the genus Gonolobus back in 2016 and 2017. Neither he nor other members of the Naturalista community could identify them beyond genus as their characteristics didn’t match any known species. He suspected they were an as yet undescribed species, but further investigation didn’t occur for another two years, when Fernando contacted Lupita Chávez Hernández (@lupitachavezhdez).

The following are recollections by all three coauthors of the paper describing Gonolobus naturalistae. They have been lightly edited for clarity.

Fernando: I became acquainted with Naturalista when I was studying for my doctorate and, in a moment of semi-depression, exploring, observing and identifying plants on Naturalista became a welcome escape. Currently I use Naturalista as a quick way to create an additional documentation of my botanical records. 

[In 2019] I noticed that a user on Naturalista had begun to identify various species in the family Apocynaceae, so I sent her a message asking for her opinion [of my Gonolobus observations]. [She] said she would take a look at the plants and bring it up with her thesis advisor, Dr. Leonardo Alvarado-Cárdenas (@leonardoac). Several months later, Lupita told me that after reviewing the species with Leo, they also believed it was something new and needed material to analyze. Almost a year later, during the 21st Congress of Mexican Botany, I finally had the opportunity to meet them in person and donate samples of the Gonolobus for them to analyze in the herbarium at UNAM. After doing so, they told me that indeed it was a new species and that the next step was to describe it in a publication.

Lupita: My uncle Belem Hernández (@belemqueuedelapin) [introduced me to Naturalista]. [He] is a strong proponent of community science, he is a very active Naturalista user, and is enthusiastic about documenting the diversity of the area where he lives. Since then I have not stopped using the Naturalista and marveling at its benefits. 

After reviewing the group and the species reported for the area, Leonardo (@leonardoac) and I, who work on Apocynaceae taxonomy, confirmed [to Fernando] that it was a new species with a distribution restricted to Sinaloa and Chihuahua.

Leonardo: The next step was to think of the name, which was not an easy thing. Several names were suggested, related to the structure of the flower or its distribution. [But] after a series of discussions, we decided that it would be a good idea to honor Naturalista for several reasons. 

Fernando: When I heard that, I was fascinated by the idea since Naturalista had been the means through which we coauthors were able to connect and describe the new species. I also thought of all the collaborations that had taken place on the platform that I was busy compiling for a conference organized by CONABIO - some of which we cited in the article.

Naturalista has definitely changed both the way I interact with nature and how I do research. Every time I visit a new place now I find myself documenting plants and other species. It’s really motivated me to identify and learn about new species, since I can quickly make an observation and worry about identifying it and doing a literature review later on. All the other users also help out a lot. When I make identifications for others, seeing species that I do not know motivates me to review the literature and help identify them.

Lupita: Leonardo and I work in Mexico City and it is not easy to go out to collect in northern areas like Sinaloa, so the use of Naturalista made that aspect much easier - the distance was reduced to a click on the computer!

Leonardo: The use of Naturalista has become a constant activity within our group, and it has allowed us to study many species in greater detail than just pressed herbarium material, which lacks many important characteristics such as color, general appearance, habitat and who can visit it. Based on all of this, we decided to go with using the name Naturalista as a specific epithet for the new species. We hope this decision highlights the work of the platform and the people who work on it...among many other things, it allows to tell success stories such as the discovery of new species and the creation of links between colleagues in different parts of the country and the world.

Lupita: I have always thought that involving citizens in the construction and dissemination of scientific knowledge is essential. Only in this way can we know and value the biodiversity that surrounds us and ensure its conservation. Naturalista allows [collaboration between scientists and the community at large] to be done in a simple and fun way, so its contribution to science is worthy of being recognized with the name of a new species.

Since Naturalista began in México, it has become the largest citizen science network in the country with over 90,000 people registered, 2.7 million observations of 37,000 species. We invite more researchers to collaborate. Let’s improve our knowledge of biodiversity in Mexico and in the world together!!

In addition to helping discover new species, Fernando, along with his botanist mentor Dr. Rito-Vega, have been studying endemic Sinaloan plants for his postdoctoral work. This has led to the first iNat/Naturalista observations of several species, including Perityle grandifolia, Perityle canescens, and Aloysia nahuire, some of which had not been documented for decades!

Posted on April 08, 2021 18:15 by tiwane tiwane | 17 comments | Leave a comment