February 17, 2018

Juglans nigra in California?

I just noticed there are tons of people entering Juglans nigra in California. Does this actually ever naturalize there, or are people just using the algorithm and not paying attention (and now it will come up as 'seen nearby')? @kueda @silversea_starsong ? Not sure who is a CA plant expert out there who's most active these days

Posted on February 17, 2018 06:09 PM by charlie charlie | 4 comments | Leave a comment

December 04, 2017

Adding town-level species lists in Vermont

Just a note that I am adding some data to town-level species lists in Vermont. The data originates from wetland plot data and is state collected data (not proprietary on this spatial level), but since it lacks photos, i didn't take the data, and i don't know landowner info, i'm not adding as my own observations. I will skip any species that may have collection pressure even at the town level, but i suspect this will be negligible (a few orchids or ginseng for instance - not adding herp data). I hope others will find this useful, as I very much find it useful in plant IDs to be able to see where it has been seen before on a map. it will display as orange on range maps for species. If you find any that seem in error let me know, make a comment, or just delete them. The data is of good quality, but like any data, could have mistakes.

Posted on December 04, 2017 04:57 PM by charlie charlie | 0 comments | Leave a comment

September 03, 2017

Holding bin (plant) field index

This field is meant to represent the best ID complex when a plant ID spans multiple taxa. (IE: you know the plant is one of two or three species in a genus, but don't want to identify it only to genus, grouping it with many others). As with my other similar journal entries, i will gradually fill this journal entry with possible entries and links, until iNat has functionality to search and query from existing values.

Caulophyllum thalctroides/gigantea - they intergrade and aren't good species but somehow got split. Anyone surprised?
Lonicera morrowii/tatarica
Parthenocissus quinquefolia/inserta - can't really tell these two apart without tendril cups, or at least I can't.
Pinus ponderosa/jeffreyi - without cones these are difficult/impossible to tell apart in parts of California
Solidago altissima/canadensis - may want to add gigantea too, is the glaucous stem visible all of the growing season?
Polypodium virginianum/appalachianum
Carex vesicariae group - there are several Carex groups between genus and species that haven't been added to iNat, for now I am adding this one which I use often, in the future we may wish to add them more formally to the taxonomy.
Toxicodendron radicans/rydbergii

(see also, for spiders: http://www.inaturalist.org/journal/arachnojoe/11424-about-the-field-holding-bin-spider)

Posted on September 03, 2017 03:03 PM by charlie charlie | 15 comments | Leave a comment

August 27, 2017

Vermont Natural Community Field Link Index

This Journal post is for the Natural Community field per use in Vermont. In this journal post I will slowly accumulate links to all natural communities I add in said form. These are primarily classified using Wetland Woodland Wildland/Heritage Methology. If others use the form I encourage to use these same units so the data gets sorted together. For consistency I am also using this form to track these 'unnatural' habitats: http://www.inaturalist.org/journal/charlie/11257-unnatural-community-tracking-update-and-list

Natural Community index:

Standardized Fields from W.W.W.:

Alder Swamp
Alluvial Shrub Swamp
Alpine Meadow
Beaver Wetland - includes both herb and shrub successional stages as well as open ponds.
Black Spruce Swamp
Black Spruce Woodland Bog
Boreal Outcrop
Boreal Talus Woodland
Buttonbush Basin Swamp
Buttonbush Swamp
Calcareous Red Maple-Tamarack Swamp
Cattail Marsh
Deep Broadleaf Marsh
Deep Bulrush Marsh
Dry Oak Forest
Dry Oak-Hickory-Hophornbeam Forest
Dry Red Oak-White Pine Forest
Dwarf Shrub Bog
Hemlock-Balsam Fir-Black Ash Seepage Swamp
Hemlock Forest
Hemlock-Northern Hardwood Forest
Hemlock-Red Spruce Forest - a variant of Hemlock Forest
Hemlock-Sphagnum Acidic Basin Swamp
High Elevation Seep
High Gradient Floodplain Forest
Intermediate Fen
Lake Sand Beach
Lake Shale Beach
Lake Shale or Cobble Beach
Lakeside Floodplain Forest
Limestone Bluff Cedar-Pine Forest
Lowland Spruce-Fir Forest
Mesic Maple-Ash-Hickory-Oak Forest
Mesic Red Oak-Northern Hardwood Forest
Montane Spruce-Fir Forest
Montane Yellow Birch-Red Spruce Forest
Northern Conifer Floodplain Forest
Northern Hardwood Forest
Northern Hardwood Talus Woodland
Northern White Cedar Swamp
Pine-Oak-Heath Sandplain Forest
Pitch Pine-Oak-Heath Rocky Summit
Pitch Pine Woodland Bog
Poor Fen
Red Cedar Woodland
Red Maple-Black Ash Seepage Swamp
Red Maple-Northern White Cedar Swamp
Red Maple-Sphagnum Acidic Basin Swamp
Red or Silver Maple-Green Ash Swamp
Red Pine Forest or Woodland
Red Spruce-Cinnamon Fern Swamp
Red Spruce-Heath Rocky Ridge Forest
Red Spruce-Northern Hardwood Forest
Rich Fen
Rich Northern Hardwood Forest
River Cobble Shore
River Mud Shore
Sand Dune
Sedge Meadow - relationship between this and beaver wetland uncertain. may want to subclassify beaver wetlands.
Shallow Emergent Marsh
Silver Maple-Ostrich Fern Riverine Floodplain Forest
Silver Maple-Sensitive Fern Riverine Floodplain Forest
Slow Winder Stream
Spruce-Fir-Tamarack Swamp
Sugar Maple-Ostrich Fern Riverine Floodplain Forest
Sweet Gale Shoreline Swamp
Temperate Acidic Outcrop
Temperate Calcareous Cliff
Temperate Calcareous Outcrop
Temperate Hemlock Forest
Transition Hardwood Limestone Forest
Transition Hardwood Limestone Talus Woodland
Vernal Pool
Wet Sand-Over-Clay Forest
White Pine-Northern Hardwood Forest
White Pine-Red Oak-Black Oak Forest

Nonstandard Placeholders or Types Not Yet Described:
Types to be described or informal ones I made up as placeholders. Many of these are for shrub swamps that Heritage hasn't classified in detail (yet).

Black Ash Sponge Forest - was used to describe some areas of seepage forest, these will be described in new edition but probably not under this name

Lakeside Mixed Swamp - this is a placeholder... swamp on side of Lake Ninevah with open canopy of red maple, tamarack, balsam fir, black cherry, winterberry holly, alder, some yellow birch, etc. Seems kind of a mix between spruce-fir-tamarack swamp and high-gradient floodplain forest (also not defined). If limited to this lake, should eventually lump into something else. Also consider doing a plot.

Willow Shrub Swamp - shrub swamp with dense willow shrubs instead of alders. Species still TBD in some cases. Not sure if a coherent type. Almost always has bvr dams so could be a form of beaver wetland.

Winterberry Basin Swamp and Winterberry Shrub Swamp - need to standardize these. I think officially they will be merged in with the buttonbush basin swamp but i may want to retain a separate type here for tracking purposes.

Acidic Shrub Swamp - a division of what is currently Alder Swamp, these aren't dominated by alder but have acidic water/soil conditions and aren't quite bogs or fens. May be successional.

Calcareous Shrub Swamp

Floating-Leaf Marsh - being used to describe pond areas too deep for Deep Broadleaf Marsh, usually full of lily pads, eelgrass, potamogeton, etc. These natural communities aren't currently described by NHI

Rich Shrub Fen - Eshqua bog, even richer than 'Calcareous shrub Swamp' but not a typical rich fen.

Red Spruce Swamp - this is similar to Black Spruce Swamp but with red spruce instead.

Red Spruce Woodland Bog* - these are both places where red spruce replaces black spruce - mostly southern Greens.

Seral Floodplain Forest- not sure how best to deal with stuff like this.

A secondary field to categorize other things (currently being used to parse out beaver wetland types.)

Posted on August 27, 2017 08:47 PM by charlie charlie | 0 comments | Leave a comment

August 21, 2017

"Unnatural Community" tracking update and list

Hi all!

Because 'unnatural' communities intergrade with natural ones, I was thinking for now we can just use the 'Natural Community' text field to track these for now. Later we can create another field if it seems helpful.

I'm going to start compiling a list of these along with links to the queries. If you use the field to add one, please post a comment or send me a message so I can add it to this list. (I should do the same for 'natural communities' too! but in a different post). I will also edit the description of the field when I figure out how - when they changed the observation page they also seem to have removed the ability to do that? Also does anyone know how to embed a link? A Href seems disabled.

Since I am short on time now I will start with just a few, with more to come. @Jogarton has compiled another list of ones she will be using. See links below. These don't filter by place but you may choose to filter further by a state, or by a taxa (plants only?) etc.


Lawn - includes mowed lawns in yards, playgrounds, etc

Indoors - mostly for animals that live or find their way inside like spiers, etc.

Human-Created Open Field

Human-Created Wetland Field - cleared field that is in a wetland



Roadside: Paved

Roadside: Unpaved

Sand or Gravel Pit

Stormwater Pond (used for the sort that are meant to hold water, not rain garden types)

Trail - for plants obviously growing in the trail and influenced more by trail disturbance than surrounding natural communities.

More to come!

Tags: @erikamitchell @srall @jogarton @bouteloua

Posted on August 21, 2017 04:48 PM by charlie charlie | 2 comments | Leave a comment

August 19, 2017

What's In The Honey Nut Cheerios Bee Seed Mix?

A while back a mix of 'wildflowers' for bees was given out in mass quantities by Honey Nut Cheerios. Unfortunately most species on the list were non-native in most of the places they were sent to, and some were invasive species. See http://www.cassisaari.com/bringbackthebees-another-misguided-conservation-effort/ , written by @bouteloua . There was also another similar packet i was given that was supposedly from President Obama. That one had a slightly different mix - what came up when we planted it was a lupine, a bee balm, and a few other things.

But anyone who has ever done restoration work also knows you often get things in a seed mix that aren't what is on the label. We'd ordered one of these packets before seeing the problems associated with it, so i tossed it in a big container where I could monitor what came up and yank any invasives. Not scientific, but interesting anyhow.

I've been tracking what came up using the iNat tag 'bringbackthebees' based on the cheerios hashtag. See here: http://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=any&q=bringbackthebees&verifiable=any . If anyone else has planted these seeds, can you do the same? (you can obscure the location if it's at your house. Be sure to mark as not naturalized too, since you planted the seeds). So far the mix seems to include at least one or two things not on the list, but it's also possibly my IDs are wrong (if so please correct them!) . For instance, what is that trifolium doing there (or is the ID wrong?). That Phlox sure isn't blue.

(note: Erigeron annuus, which is on that list, grows everywhere in our yard and seeds have gotten into the container from nearby areas, so i have no idea if it was in the seed mix or not. Also, this container has other weeds in it. This is not a scientific study, just an estimate).

Posted on August 19, 2017 04:27 PM by charlie charlie | 0 comments | Leave a comment

July 15, 2017

A new field for sorting observations observed in human-influenced landscapes

Lately I've been tracking observations by natural community type, as defined in Vermont with the book Wetland, Woodland, Wildland. (other states and countries have different classification systems). For instance, see Northern Hardwood Forest, Vermont's most widely distributed natural community: http://www.inaturalist.org/observations?field:Natural%20Community=Northern%20Hardwood%20Forest

Note that it ranks the species by number observed. It's not systematic, as i don't record every species every time, but it gives you an idea of what species you will see in each natural community.

After the idea independently coming up in several different places the last few weeks, I've decided we need a field to track different human-influenced habitats as well. Urban nature is a whole other world than natural ecosystems... but every bit as interesting and often not as well studied. Both are worthy of attention, but the nature where people live is the easiest for most people to see from day to day.

To make sure things are standardized, since there's no book to anchor to, i've proposed a bunch of categories. Others are free to propose others. Once we start using them it becomes a bit of a pain to change them with a bulk edit, so I wanted to run them by a few other users first. Here's my current list:

road/railroad/trail right of way
utility right of way
mowed lawn (includes home lawns, sports fields, playgrounds, etc)
Human-created open field (cut every year or two, but not a mowed lawn. Like many fields around homes in VT)
Disturbed wetland (cut over every year or two like open field but is wetland
agricultural area (farms)
Dense Urban Center (parking lots, cracks in sidewalk, etc)
Abandoned Urban Center (vacant buildings etc)
landscaping or garden (where plants are planted, pollinators may appear, weeds, etc)
managed forest or plantation (this one can intergrade with wildland since most areas are managed in some way but thinking of high intensity managed areas)
Invasive Species Infestation
Storm Drain/Channelized Waterway
Artificial Pond
Stormwater pond/sump/catch basin
Indoors (spiders, etc that find their way indoors, birds in airport terminals, etc)

I don't want to create too many but nor do I want to leave too much out. I'm not sure if these would work globally, but they seem good in the northeastern US. Once i get this field set up we can start seeing what species are in each one. Any thoughts? Thanks to @erikamitchell @srall @jogarton for being part of this discussion so far. Not sure who else might be interested. @bouteloua @kueda @kpmcfarland @cullen @sambiology @silversea_starsong perhaps? Feel free to tag others. Also feel free to use the natural community field, but if you're in Vermont let's use Wetland Woodland Wildland.

Posted on July 15, 2017 12:46 AM by charlie charlie | 9 comments | Leave a comment

November 09, 2016

sending love

just want to send love to you all. please join me in gathering as much data as we can so that once we get through the hard times ahead we have the knowledge to rebuild. And when you are out there talk to people. Build community. It's so important right now.

We'll survive. I didn't feel that way in the depths of the night but today i see that we will.


Posted on November 09, 2016 04:47 PM by charlie charlie | 7 comments | Leave a comment

August 11, 2016

Thoughts on attracting and retaining "power users"?

iNaturalist is growing in leaps and bounds, which is really exciting! The summer of bioblitzes (largely thanks to @carrieseltzer ), the xKCD mention ( http://xkcd.com/1692 ) , #pokeblitz, and then NPR article have all brought us more new users. For those who have been here for a while, it's both exciting and disconcerting.. though mostly the former at least to me.

The iNat admins have done a wonderful job adding features and updating the look of the site. It's come so far since I started using it in 2011 and even more so, i'm sure, since it started. While most of the changes are positive, there is also the hope that iNat remains anchored by our "power users': research ecologists like @polemoniaceae and @erwin_pteridophilos , field-naturalists and land managers such as @cathybell and @ctracey and @botanygirl and @cullen as well as dedicated "pro-amateurs" (people like @erikamitchell and @finatic and @silversea_starsong who aren't trained in or working in the science field but who contribute hugely to our community) and last but not least our very active and wonderful site admins such as @loarie and @kueda who are vital parts of the community not just in the admin work they do but in their observations and IDs as well. (apologies if i mixed up anyone's training or experience above, the point is to illustrate the many different places people start from).

The sense of wonder and diverse views brought by the true amateurs are a crucial part of this community but we can't forget the backbone of the community - those who are adding countless IDs, sharing data from field days and research projects, participating in Google groups, creating species lists, and curating projects. As we grow, in my opinion we need to make specific efforts to attract 'power users' as well as the general public.

I wanted to share some ideas about this, but I'd found that my feedback and participation mostly came in the form of reactionary dislike of change and sometimes poorly thought out and frustrated comments. So I want to start a more meaningful and positive conversation full of ideas. I will share some of my ideas in the comments so my thoughts are not prioritized above other people who wish to post here. If you have thoughts please do share, and also feel free to tag some of the many users I am forgetting.

Thanks for any thoughts!

Posted on August 11, 2016 10:40 PM by charlie charlie | 50 comments | Leave a comment

May 17, 2016

Apologies for duplicate posts, 5-16-2016

apologies that there are a bunch of duplicate posts today... i am using a test version of the app, and it's uploaded a bunch of observations with false location. I'm re adding them manually from the photos but I don't want to delete the old ones yet because they are evidence of the bug. So I marked them as captive so they won't all come up as research grade. But anyway feel free to ignore the older of the duplicates.

Posted on May 17, 2016 01:39 AM by charlie charlie | 0 comments | Leave a comment