June 10, 2021

The Rediscovery of a Lost Fish on iNaturalist

How can we protect the world’s most threatened species before it’s too late? That’s the goal behind the Search for the Lost Fishes campaign launched this week by Shoal in collaboration with Re:wild and the IUCN-SSC Freshwater Fish Specialist Group. The iNaturalist community is already playing an important role in this work with the re-discovery of what would have been one of the campaign’s top 10 most wanted lost species: the Dumbéa River Pipefish.

The Dumbéa River Pipefish, photographed by Damien Brouste

Pipefish are seahorse cousins that kind of look like what would happen if you uncoiled a seahorse. According to Luiz Rocha, the Follett Chair of Ichthyology at the California Academy of Sciences “The Dumbéa River Pipefish was first described in 1981 from specimens that had been sitting, overlooked, in the California Academy of Sciences and a few other museums since the 1940s.” But soon after it was discovered and named, the Dumbéa River Pipefish once again slipped off of the conservation community's radar and was thought to be extinct.

The Dumbéa River Pipefish specimen collected in 1944 at the California Academy of Sciences, photographed by Luiz Rocha. iNaturalist is a joint initiative of the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society

“It’s a very serious problem if a species is assumed to be extinct when it is not – because as soon as that happens, all conservation efforts for the species stop,” says Ian Harrison, Co-Chair of the Freshwater Conservation Committee of IUCN Species Survival Commission, “and if it is already threatened then the chances of it actually becoming extinct increase significantly.” This is the motivating premise of the Lost Fishes campaign: to find these lost species before they disappear.

This is exactly what happened in the case of the Dumbéa River Pipefish. As described in this article by the Lost Fishes campaign, the Dumbéa River Pipefish was originally one of the top 10 Lost Species, but while doing research on this species, the team ran across an iNaturalist observation posted last fall by New Caledonian naturalist Damien Brouste (@damienbr) that he photographed alongside Nicolas Charpin (@nicocharpin), an aquatic scientist with the New Caledonian NGO Vies d'Ô Douce in a pool in the Ouenghi River in New Caledonia. Damien has posted over 3,800 observations from New Caledonia to iNaturalist representing 800 distinct species. "I could not imagine a better tool to connect scientists and citizens," Damien told me. “Thanks to iNaturalist, I've been able to meet people sharing the same passion and count them as friends now." Valentin de Mazancourt (@mazancourt), an associate researcher at the French National Museum of Natural History and very active identifier on iNaturalist, noticed the observation and was able to confirm its identification with a Ph.D. student in his lab working on the taxonomy of Indo-Pacific Pipefishes. "Thanks to iNaturalist, researchers now have an amazing network of observers all around the world that allows us to get valuable new data on rare species like this one," says Valentin. "Sometimes from remote places that would have required a lot of effort and resources to reach otherwise".

Damien Brouste naturalizing in New Caledonia

"I’m so thrilled that this gorgeous pipefish has been rediscovered," rejoiced Amanda Vincent, Chair of the IUCN SSC Seahorse, Pipefish and Seadragon Specialist Group. "Now we need to find ways to keep its populations and habitats in good shape. Freshwater pipefishes of the genus Microphis are a particular concern. Of the 24 species in the genus, three are known to be at risk and we can’t even assess 12 other species. It would be wonderful if anybody could share information on the Spinach pipefish, or any of the other Data Deficient species."

By connecting local naturalists such as Damien in New Caledonia with researchers from around the world such as Valentin’s lab at the French National Museum of Natural History, iNaturalist is a powerful tool for rapidly and accurately censusing the Earth’s biodiversity and identifying rare species such as the Dumbéa River Pipefish that are only just hanging on so their protection can be prioritized.

According to Ian Harrison, "finding these fishes can be difficult to do, and time consuming. And that is where citizen science can help: a force of people who are mobilized to help seek out these species, and share information on their observations. iNaturalist is an excellent way of achieving that. The information gathered through iNaturalist can increase our knowledge of the presence of species. By knowing where they are distributed, and what threats are present in these areas, this information can help assess the risk of extinction of these species, for the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species."

The Search for the Lost Fishes campaign will help coordinate these searches for species that haven't been recorded in over a decade, but are yet to be declared Extinct. Shoal's partners will head out to some of the planet's most far-flung freshwaters, from a small town in Iraq to the world's highest lake, from the jungles of Papua New Guinea to central Madagascar, with the aim of rediscovering species of fish so that we may implement a conservation programme to give them every possible chance of future survival. "The goal of Search for the Lost Fishes is to give a second chance to species that, for one reason or another, have fallen off our collective radar. It's an opportunity to celebrate the overlooked fishes on the list, and offer hope for their future. And it's about curiosity and adventure, about encouraging people to get out there and connect with their local waterways to help advance scientific understanding," says Michael Edmondstone, Shoal's Communications and Engagement Lead. "iNaturalist is an ideal fit for this, as it presents the opportunity for passionate naturalists in the field to connect with taxonomic experts around the world. Damien's sighting of the Dumbéa River pipefish is the perfect example of how iNaturalist can connect people and give their observations a global platform."

The Dumbéa River Pipefish may have been found but many lost fishes remain. The Top 10 List released by the Lost Fishes campaign this week includes:
Annamite barb (possibly central Vietnam)
Diyarbakir (Batman River) loach (Turkey)
Duck-billed buntingi (Indonesia)
Spinach pipefish (Papua New Guinea)
Mesopotamian barbel (Eastern Turkey, Eastern Syria, Iran, Iraq)
Syr Darya shovelnose sturgeon (Tajikistan and Uzbekistan)
Titicaca orestias (Peru)
Haditha cavefish (Iraq)
Itasy cichlid (Madagascar)
Fat catfish (Lake Tota basin, Colombia)

If you live or are traveling where any of these species occur, please help us find them. And wherever you live, go outside and use iNaturalist to document the fishes that occur in your neighborhood. You never know what you might find!

Can you also contribute knowledge about seahorses, the immediate relatives of pipefishes? We invite everybody to make contributions to iSeahorse, the iNaturalist partner that tracks seahorse sightings. We value all contributions, which have greatly expanded our understanding of seahorse species’ geographic ranges. We also seek community partners who can undertake long-term monitoring of seahorse populations.

Posted on June 10, 2021 17:23 by loarie loarie | 24 comments | Leave a comment

June 09, 2021

A Butterfly Alights on the Head of a Snake - Observation of the Week, 6/8/21

Our Observation of the Day is this odd couple of a Gorgone Checkerspot (Chlosyne gorgone) and a Eastern Hognose Snake (Heterodon platirhinos)! Seen in the United States by @rollingplainst.

Teresa M (rollingplainst) credits her parents for her twin loves of nature and photography. “My father introduced me to photography as a teen, and my first camera was a Polaroid Instant Camera!

He was also keenly interested in reptiles and amphibians, and worked for a time in the Fort Worth Zoo Herpetarium. I was always very interested in birds and butterflies, but through him [I] also gained an interest in reptiles and amphibians.

So a few weeks ago, when returning from running some errands, she let her dog out into the dogyard “and she alerted us to the snake’s presence.

Glancing out the window, I recognized the eastern hognose snake (I had observed one last year as well). The [snake] was already in display mode when I stepped out with my camera (after getting the dog back inside), spreading the skin around its head and neck...

While trying different angles without getting too close (I didn’t want the snake to go into playing dead mode), the gorgone checkerspot landed on the snake’s head!  In fact, it stayed there for a minute or two, allowing me to get a few different angles. After a few more minutes, the butterfly moved on and I went back inside and allowed the snake to leave in its own time. Beautiful creature – I love to see these!

While butterflies are known to obtain salt by drinking the tears of turtles or alligators (or even manure and mud), it’s unlikely this checkerspot is sucking up much here as snakes don’t exude discharge from their eyes. @nlblock, iNat’s top butterfly identifier, brought this observation to my attention and when I asked him what might be going on here, said “[I’m] not sure! It's got its proboscis out like it's probing for minerals, which is what they might do on sweaty mammals, but I'm not sure what it would find on the snake.”

As for the butterfly’s reptilian substrate: eastern hognose snakes feed exclusively on amphibians so the insect is in no danger here. Adults average around 71 cm (28 in) in length and the species ranges throughout much of the eastern United States and into southern Canada. While they’re not dangerous to humans, eastern hognose snakes do secrete some amphibian-specific venom from their rear fangs, which might cause localized swelling if a person is bitten by one. Their little “hognose” snout aids in digging.

“After a long career in education, which left little time to pursue [my interests in nature and photography], I retired,” says Teresa (above). She and her husband moved to the country and she’s currently studying their 14 acres of sandy habitat in the Rolling Plains Ecoregion of Texas where they are also

trying to restore as much of the native habitat as we can, with particular focus on the Northern Bobwhite, pollinators, and native grasses/forbs. I’m thrilled to be able to have the time to return to my love of nature and explore the biodiversity around me. At the same time, I get to hone my very amateur photography skills, a hobby I really love!

She started using iNaturalist last September and is particularly keen that iNat data being available for research. Last year, Texas Parks and Wildlife reached out to her through their Texas Nature Trackers program as they’re studying the distribution of Northern Bobwhites.

The iNaturalist site and community have been wonderful about helping me expand my identification skills and I am more aware of regional populations than I was before. It’s exciting to find a new organism I have not seen before, and to learn about its habits and interactions with the environment and other species. The access to experts has been wonderful, as some of my identification learning is just starting (e.g. native plants), while I am also a little rusty in other areas – well, maybe a lot ! How animals interact with their environment and other species is very interesting to me, and I enjoy trying to capture these interactions as they occur.

- Like Teresa said, hognose snakes are well known to play dead.

- @nlblock’s giraffe weevil was an Observation of the Week over five years ago!

Posted on June 09, 2021 04:58 by tiwane tiwane | 13 comments | Leave a comment

June 08, 2021

Welcome, Naturalista Costa Rica! ¡Bienvenido, NaturalistaCR!

Today we officially welcome NaturalistaCR (iNaturalist Costa Rica) as the newest member of the iNaturalist Network! NaturalistaCR is a collaboration with the Comisión Nacional para la Gestión de la Biodiversidad (CONAGEBIO) which is in charge of processing, approving, and monitoring applications for access to biodiversity resources, through basic research, bioprospecting, and economic use permits. In addition to CONAGEBIO, will be advised by the CIGECIB, which is an Inter-institutional commission with representatives of the Centro Nacional de Información Geoambiental, Sistema Nacional de Áreas de Conservación, Museo Nacional de Costa Rica, Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología and Consejo Nacional de Rectores. The implementation and technical management of Naturalista CR is supported by a close collaboration from ICOMVIS - UNA and the Biodiversity Informatics Research Center.

¡Hoy damos la bienvenida oficialmente a NaturalistaCR (iNaturalist Costa Rica) como nuevo miembro de la Red iNaturalist! NaturalistaCR es una colaboración con la Comisión Nacional para la Gestión de la Biodiversidad (CONAGEBIO), la cual se encarga de procesar, aprobar y monitorear las solicitudes de acceso a los recursos de la biodiversidad, a través de permisos de investigación, bioprospección y uso económico. Además del apoyo de CONAGEBIO, cuenta con el asesoramiento de la CIGECIB, la cual es una comisión interinstitucional con representantes del Centro Nacional de Información Geoambiental, Sistema Nacional de Áreas de Conservación, Museo Nacional de Costa Rica, Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología y Consejo Nacional de Rectores. La implementación y gestión técnica de Naturalista CR cuenta con la colaboración de ICOMVIS - UNA y el Centro de Investigación en Informática de la Biodiversidad.

In 2012, Costa Rican INBio had a participatory science initiative with “Bioexplorador”, a biodiversity platform based on the iNaturalist open source software. NaturalistaCR comes to expand INBio’s initial efforts to increase environmental education, public awareness, and facilitate research and technology transfer with iNaturalist’s free, easy to use app that is accessible to the general public. In addition, NaturalistaCR will provide data to BIODATACR, an information system aimed at systematizing, documenting and publishing information on the biodiversity of Costa Rica.

En 2012, el Instituto Nacional de la Biodiversidad, INBio promovió una iniciativa de ciencia ciudadana llamada “Bioexplorador”, una plataforma de biodiversidad basada en el software de código abierto iNaturalist. NaturalistaCR tiene como objetivo continuar con los esfuerzos iniciales de INBio para aumentar la bioalfabetización, facilitar la investigación, y la transferencia de tecnología con una aplicación gratuita y accesible para el público en general. Además, NaturalistaCR proporcionará datos a BIODATACR, un sistema de información destinado a sistematizar, documentar y publicar información sobre la biodiversidad de Costa Rica.

NaturalistaCR logo is the three-toed sloth (Bradypus variegatus). Sloths are arboreal, medium-size mammals that are one of the most important and charismatic symbols of Costa Rica. Wherever you travel inside the country, you will see sloths featured in signs, shirts and souvenirs. The sloth's popularity is a reflection of the “Pura Vida” lifestyle: living happy, simple, and relaxed.

El logotipo de NaturalistaCR es el perezoso de tres dedos (Bradypus variegatus). Los perezosos, además de ser mamíferos arbóreos de tamaño mediano, son uno de los símbolos más importantes y carismáticos de Costa Rica. Donde quiera que uno vaya, encontrará perezosos dibujados en rótulos, camisetas y souvenirs. La popularidad del perezoso es un reflejo de nuestro estilo de vida “Pura Vida”: vivir feliz, simple y relajado.

Initially, the iNaturalist community in Costa Rica was mainly composed of international visitors reporting species during their vacations, but this has been changing in the last few years thanks to many non-governmental organizations and universities working locally with the app. In the last two years, the Costa Rican iNaturalist community has doubled its number of observations and users, hosting more than 358,000 observations and 11,100 observers to date.

Inicialmente, la comunidad de iNaturalist en Costa Rica estaba compuesta principalmente por visitantes internacionales que reportaban especies durante sus vacaciones, pero esto ha ido cambiando en los últimos años gracias a muchas organizaciones no gubernamentales y universidades que trabajan localmente con la aplicación. En los últimos dos años, la comunidad costarricense de iNaturalist ha duplicado su número de observaciones y usuarios, albergando más de 358.000 observaciones y 11.100 observadores hasta la fecha.

About the iNaturalist Network

The iNaturalist Network now has 18 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, iNaturalist United Kingdom, iNaturalist Guatemala, iNaturalist Sweden, and now NaturalistaCR. Any iNaturalist user can log in on any of the sites using their same username and password and will see the same notifications.

La Red iNaturalist ahora tiene 18 sitios enfocados a nivel nacional que están completamente conectados e interoperables con el sitio global iNaturalist. Los sitios son: Naturalista México, iNaturalist Canadá, iNaturalist Nueva Zelanda (antes NatureWatchNZ), Naturalista Colombia, BioDiversity4All (Portugal), iNaturalist Panamá, iNaturalist Ecuador, iNaturalist Australia, ArgentiNat (iNaturalist Argentina), iNaturalist Israel, iNaturalist Finlandia, iNaturalist Chile,iNaturalist Grecia, iNaturalist Luxemburgo, iNaturalist Reino Unido, iNaturalist Guatemala, iNaturalist Suecia, y ahora NaturalistaCR. Cualquier usuario de iNaturalist puede iniciar sesión en cualquiera de los sitios usando su mismo nombre de usuario y contraseña y verá las mismas notificaciones.

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.

La Red de miembros de iNaturalist permite apoyar a las comunidades a escala nacional y promover el liderazgo local, sin dividir a la comunidad en sitios aislados. El equipo de iNaturalist agradece el alcance, la capacitación, la traducción y el apoyo a los usuarios por parte del esfuerzo de cada institución miembro de la Red iNaturalist.

We encourage all Costa Ricans to join the NaturalistaCR platform and learn more about the biodiversity that surrounds us!

Invitamos a todos los costarricenses a unirse a la plataforma NaturalistaCR y aprender más sobre la biodiversidad que nos rodea. ¡Pura vida!

Posted on June 08, 2021 21:24 by carrieseltzer carrieseltzer | 14 comments | Leave a comment

June 03, 2021

A Stick Grasshopper Displays Its Tiny Wings in Chile - Observation of the Week, 6/2/21

Our Observation of the Week is this Neotropical Stick Grasshopper (Family Proscopiidae), seen in Chile by @ninangel!

“On January 17th, this summer, I went to explore a place called ‘Cerro Grande’ in La Serena city, in Coquimbo, Chile,” says Ninosca Angel, a marine biology student currently working on her Master’s degree in Zoology.

I was with a marine biologist friend, and while taking pictures of insects we saw two proscopids and I noticed that one of them had wings! Apparently, they were fighting, since the winged proscopid was missing a leg, so I separated them to be able to appreciate the beauty of its wings. When I had it in my hand it made a strange sound, perhaps feeling threatened, then I returned it to its place, surprised by what that can be found in nature. I had never seen a proscopid with wings, I was fascinated.

While they may bear a superficial resemblance to “true” stick insects (Order Phasmida) Proscopiids are grasshoppers, being part of the Infraorder Acrididea. They occur in Central and South America and in addition to their stick-like bodies (the better to camouflage with), their heads are elongated, with bulbous eyes located near the top next to short antennae. Some, at least, are able to leap, but none are known to actually fly.  

Ninosca (above) says she’s always been interested in nature, and feels “fortunate to have a family that loves nature, camping and exploring, either alone or with friends to see if we discover any new species and to record everything we observe.” In addition to schoolwork, she makes videos to raise awareness about nature and of course has started posting her observations to iNat. “I use iNaturalist,” she says,

because I like to share images and data of nature to be able to provide information for scientific research and above all, I like to learn about the species that are found. I would like everyone to use the platform to collaborate and take care of our biodiversity.

- The late macro photographer/videographer (and iNat user) Andreas Kay shot some beautiful footage of Proscopiids, you can see videos here and here.

- Don’t forget, iNaturalist Chile recently joined the iNaturalist network!

Posted on June 03, 2021 00:07 by tiwane tiwane | 9 comments | Leave a comment

June 02, 2021

One Sixth of All Named Species Tallied!

Last week, we tallied 333 thousand species on iNaturalist. We discussed this topic a little under eight months ago when we reached 300 thousand species, so why an update so soon?

Besides the fact that these seemingly insignificant 33 thousand new additions represent about 3 times the global number of bird species, there is also symbolic significance associated with this 333 thousand mark. Most estimates are that there are around 2 million described species globally. That means that we've now succeeded in tallying about 1 in 6 described species with an observation.

The collective capacity of the iNaturalist community to census such a significant portion of life on Earth so quickly is one of the most unique aspects of the initiative and something we should all be very proud of!

So what's next? Unfortunately, unlike many characteristics of iNaturalist that we can extrapolate fairly accurately from the number of participants (e.g. we fairly consistently average about 30 observations per year per participant), its very difficult to predict how quickly the iNaturalist community will continue to tally increasingly rare and hard to find species. For example, we know there are about 11.5k species of reptile. And with about 1.6M reptile observations, we've tallied jut over 7k of them. But how many more observations will it take us to tally those remaining 3.5k species? 5 million? 10 million? It all depends on how small ranged and geographically isolated those remaining species are relative to where the iNaturalist community is most active.

The graphs below show the first iNaturalist observation of each of these species grouped by several vertebrate groups. The dark green dots were tallied since 2020. The light green dots were tallied earlier. For these vertebrate groups, in which most species have been observed, most new species are being tallied in the tropics.

In contrast, for other groups like plants and insects where most species haven't been observed, there is still huge amount of new species being tallied even in well documented places in North America and Europe.

What can we all do to expand iNaturalist's capacity to census greater and greater portions of the Earth's biodiversity? Here are some ideas and please share your thoughts below:

  • Grow the number of observers overall, especially in remote areas
    There are more remaining species are in countries without a lot of iNaturalist usage and in increasingly remote parts of countries with a lot of usage. How can we encourage people who live there to get outside and share with us what they find?

  • Grow the number observers of rare species
    As described above, there's still so much to discover even in well traversed areas like the United States. How can we encourage observers to turn also record often overlooked groups like plants and insects, increase the capacity to document the characters needed to identify these species (e.g. macro lenses), and encourage expeditions to track down rare species?

  • Grow the number of specialist identifiers
    We probably have many more species already represented in existing observations but lack the expert attention needed to identify them to species. This is especially true for diverse and poorly known groups like millipedes where only about 1/3 of observations have species level identifications. What can we do to grow the capacity in the community to identify species in these groups, either by recruiting professionals or teaching one another to become better identifiers?

We've been discussing whether setting a goal of 1 million species tallied should be a part of iNaturalist's 2030 vision. Is achieving that number at all realistic? It will depend not only on iNaturalist's capacity to grow, but also to grow in specific ways and to engage specific types of community members.

Posted on June 02, 2021 03:44 by loarie loarie | 51 comments | Leave a comment

June 01, 2021

Pride Month 2021 on iNat

To celebrate Pride Month this June and elevate LGBTQIA+ voices in the iNaturalist community (and the naturalist community more broadly), we’ve invited members of our community who identify as LGBTQIA+ to share their iNat stories. By creating this space, we hope that other members of our community can feel seen, heard, and realize that they're not alone.

We’re also co-hosting a virtual mixer organized by 500 Queer Scientists on June 17th, 6 pm PDT (see in your time zone) and some of the people featured in this blog post will be speaking. Those who identify as LGBTQIA+ and allies are welcome, you can register here!

Comments are closed for this blog post, but feel free to respectfully share your thoughts and experiences in this thread on the iNaturalist Community Forum.

Tchaylet Handel (Blue) (@trh_blue)

Pronouns: she/her

Before I could learn to accept myself as I was, I needed a community that did so. iNat provided me with that. 

I grew up in an ultra religious community. Not so extreme as to be violent towards lgbt people, but deeply homophobic. Because of the expectations of conformity, it was a while before I even questioned my orientation. Even then, it still took me nearly three years to be ready to come out.  

As I began to express my identity publicly, I became increasingly aware of how ostracized lgbt people were in the orthodox community. I eventually realized I couldn't stay. Not unless I wanted to spend my entire life miserable, hiding the truth. 

I was desperately lonely. I no longer could face my peers at synagogue, I'd broken up with my first girlfriend not long before. I was injured and traumatized from my recently completed military service, and couldn't hold down a job. I was just trying to find something to do with my time. I always loved science, and nature, and found iNat in the app store by chance. 

The Israeli community was responsive, even identifying the garden plants which made up most of my starting observations. I soon found the forum, where I was able to engage in conversation with iNatters from around the world.  

It wasn't long before I started on my first IDs, due to the clear need for them and encouragement from other users. Over time, I began to spend more and more time here.  

I'm not lonely any more. I've got many friends whom I've met through iNat. I spend a lot of time identifying, trying to give back to a community which embraced me regardless of the difficulties I'd come through, my medical problems, etc.. Nobody here has ever shamed me for my sexuality, or my gender, neither for having been religious nor for currently being secular, nor for not yet having an academic degree. I can be respected for the work I do, for helping others. I'm grateful, because I've been rejected from many spaces for each of those reasons. But never here. 

Abhas (@abhasm)

Pronouns: he/him

As a child, my grandfather instilled within me a fascination and awe for the natural world. An ornithology and botany professor in India, he would take me with him to parks and natural areas when he’d go birdwatching.

But once I moved to the US, I never saw any biologists who looked like me. And to my family, non-medical biology was a risky and completely unknown career option. In spite of the struggles it took to get there, I studied ecology and organismal biology in college and became a wildlife biologist after graduating. I felt so aligned with my purpose– I’d get to go to the field looking for birds at 6am, and often it didn’t even feel like work!

Now at iNat, I’m so grateful to be able to design products that help people build their own connection to nature. I realized that I was lucky– not everyone has someone to help facilitate that connection, especially folks from marginalized backgrounds who grow up learning “nature isn’t for me.”

Throughout my journey as a naturalist, I’ve often found myself to be one of few, if not the only, people of color and/or queer people in a room. When I speak up or work in these spaces, I always try to remember that everyone, regardless of who they are and where they come from, deserves to feel like nature is for them. I hope that through iNat and Seek, we can help all people feel that they can form their own connections to the natural world.

Sequoia sempervirens (chose not to share share their name or iNaturalist username)

Pronouns: she/her

Nature has been a fun escape for me in a way ever since I was young. I used to look at the stars with telescopes for most of my childhood before trading astronomy for birding around the start of high school, which gradually turned into naturalisting before I started college. iNaturalist was my gateway to everything that wasn’t a bird, since weeds and insects I didn’t know how to start identifying suddenly were put to species due to the help of others. By around the middle of my first year of college, I became a power iNatter, quickly jumping from a little under 10000 observations at the end of my 1st semester to over 75000 today at the end of my 6th. During the time I was on iNaturalist and a bit before, I met the oddly large queer naturalisting community and quickly realized through it that I was queer myself. I therefore have naturalisting (and to a large extent iNaturalist) to thank for helping me feel more authentic in living than before.

Kai Joaquin (@nanofishology)

Pronouns: fe/fin/fizz

I grew up surrounded by nature. My fondest childhood memories involve looking for bugs in my backyard in Seattle. As an adult, I began photographing interesting flora and fauna everywhere I went, and after moving to Texas in 2013, I developed a full-on obsession. For two years, I struggled to identify all the new plants and animals I came across, until I fortuitously participated in a bioblitz at Village Creek State Park, where I first learned to use iNaturalist.

Since that bioblitz, iNaturalist has been instrumental in my growth as a naturalist, science communicator, and mentor. Through iNaturalist, I have found a wonderful community of other naturalists, with whom I have had great experiences doing bioblitzes all over Texas. With the knowledge I've gained, I've become an adept hobby entomologist and birder. I have come across amazing species and behaviors while going on iNat adventures around the world, and have fostered an appreciation for insects in others by sharing these discoveries.

I am a mentor for a group of LGBTQ+ folks in science, and my skills with field research and biology have proven to be a valuable supplement to my career in engineering in terms of my ability to provide guidance to a majority of these students and young professionals.

We hope to highlight more voices, so if you’d like to be featured in a second blog post later during Pride Month, you can email your iNat story to help+pride@inaturalist.org

Posted on June 01, 2021 23:41 by tiwane tiwane

May 25, 2021

A Naturalist and her Daughters Find a Tiny Orbweaver in Bolivia - Observation of the Week 5/25/21

Our Observation of the Week is this Bertrana spider, seen in Bolivia by @kozue!

“It all began with a butterfly,” says Kozue Kawakami.

We (I, the mom, and two daughters ages 5 and 7) found a butterfly laying eggs on a tomato leaf in our small garden. Our quarantine project involved watching the larvae’s metamorphosis. After 39 days the butterfly surprised the girls and left us all intrigued by the tremendous phenomena of nature.

Kozue’s friend, biologist Suzanne Vargas (@thevargases), introduced Kozue and her daughters (below) to iNat. Since then Kozue’s posted over five thousand observations and continues to explore the area around her house with her daughters. “We found the Bertrana spider on one of my daily morning walks with the girls,” she tells me. “The youngest immediately named it ‘little ball spider’ and the elder waited contentedly for the ID from iNaturalist users.” The iNat community came through and identified it as one of only ten observations of Bertrana on the site.

It’s impressive Kozue and her girls even saw this orbweaver spider, as members of the genus Bertrana are among the smallest known orbweavers on the planet, with females not getting much better than 5 millimeters or so in length! (Levi, 1989) They range through Central and South America and are believed to build small vertical webs in the evening. 

“Six months ago iNaturalist opened the door for me to biological diversity that was always around me though I never noticed,” says Kozue (above).

I had always liked taking pictures of little insects. But they were all just “bugs” to me back then. I knew so little about them that I thought spiders were insects, too. iNaturalist has taught me many things! But the biggest lesson it has taught me and continues to teach me each day is that in Bolivia, nature is megadiverse.

We might not have survived being cooped up in the pandemic if it weren’t for the “bugs” that accompanied us in all of their forms and colors. Little by little I am becoming familiar with the species that make up the over 5,000 observations that I’ve uploaded. Most are insects and spiders. All have been seen in my small forest of 300 m².

- Kozue and her daughters have reared 14 species of butterfly since that first encounter. Here’s a compilation video of some of them (text in Spanish). “They couldn't even touch bugs, back then,” she says.

- Kozue also posts photos to her Instagram account.

Posted on May 25, 2021 22:34 by tiwane tiwane | 8 comments | Leave a comment

May 20, 2021

A Pseudoscorpion Carries Her Young - Observation of the Week, 5/19/21

Our Observation of the Week is this adult Pseudoscorpion and its offspring, seen in India by @abhiapc!

When it comes to arachnids, most of us are familiar with spiders, scorpions, ticks, mites and maybe harvestmen (often called daddy long-legs). But Class Arachnida also counts other wonders among its ranks, including the tiny pseudoscorpions (Order Pseudoscorpiones)! 

Abhijith A.P.C. is a homeopathic doctor in India, where he also runs a ten acre organic farm and for the last six years has been studying and photographing arachnids, including pseudoscorpions. “Like spiders,” he says,

[pseudoscorpions] are very essential in checking insect populations and they hunt on ants, beetles, bees and other bark insects...Other than tree bark I have seen them inside Honey bee boxes. We keep more than 10 bee boxes in our farm and pseudoscorpions live there.

While he’s seen pseudoscorpions carrying eggs, this month he was able to document parental behavior in pseudoscorpions.

Here juveniles had come out of their eggs and one juvenile was moving on the ‘females abdomen. The rest (around three more) were in the ventral aspect of the abdomen.

This observation was made inside the Honeybee box. I didn’t have a camera to document this so I immediately rushed home and came back with a camera... Luckily pseudoscorpions with juveniles didn’t move much. The I opened the box, as light entered, the pseudoscorpion started running in search of a dark place. It was moving in between bee hives. As my concentration was with the pseudoscorpions, the bees started stinging! Before the pseudoscorpion moved inside the crevice of the bee box, I managed to get a few pics and this is a collage of that.

Not growing much larger than 12mm (0.5 in), pseudoscorpions do have pincer-shaped pedipalps like those of “true” scorpions, but lack the tail-like appendages of those larger arachnids. And while scorpions pack a venomous stinger at the tips of their tails, pseudoscorpions inject venom through their pincers. As was so beautifully documented here, females are known to carry their recently-born young for several days. 

As I mentioned previously, Abhijith (above) has been seriously interested in arachnids for about six years now (he’s also been birding for about a decade) and joined forces with other arachnid enthusiasts to make Team SALIGA, “where we do many awareness programs...We also have a group of 150 spider enthusiasts who are keenly observing spiders & this group is called “KARNATAKA SPIDER CLUB”.

Of iNat, Abhijith tells me “just a year back I was introduced to this beautiful platform. From then I have added nearly 400 observations & mostly all on spiders. I can’t find any better platform to share our joy of nature observation & also learn from others.”

Photo of Abhijith by Sumukha javagal.

- Abijith was profiled in print and video by the Deccan Herald, check it out!

- More of Abhijith's photos can be found on his Flickr page.

- Pseudoscorpions often grab onto larger invertebrates as a way to travel to another location, which is called phoresis. Quite a few of the most-faved pseudoscoropion observations on iNat document this behavior, like this one.

- The work of another member of Team SALIGA, @vipinbaliga, was featured in an Observation of the Week post over five years ago!

Posted on May 20, 2021 06:03 by tiwane tiwane | 18 comments | Leave a comment

Welcome, iNaturalist Sweden! Välkommen, iNaturalist Sverige!

Today we welcome iNaturalist Sweden as the newest member of the iNaturalist Network! iNaturalist.Se is a collaboration with the SLU Swedish Species Information Centre, a national repository for, e.g., the accumulation, analysis and dissemination of information about species and habitats in Sweden. It is one of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences’ formal collaborative centres.

Most of the work conducted at SLU Swedish Species Information Centre fits into the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences’ programme for Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, focusing on the long term goals of sustainable development expressed by the Parliament in, e.g., the Swedish Environmental Objectives. They work on commission from the Government and other authorities within the field of Swedish biodiversity, frequently in cooperation with various NGOs. They also conduct research in the fields of Ecology and Conservation.

There is high interest in Sweden about species and nature, and that has grown even further during the pandemic. A blog post from 2019 on iNaturalist activity in Sweden shows a doubled activity compared to two years earlier. This doubled yet again with only one added year (2020). Now, in May 2021, there are now over 114,000 observations from Sweden, about half of which are research grade. We’re excited to see where 2021 will take this, and even more so with the launch of iNaturalist.Se.

Whereas we previously had @evahedstrom topping both the list of number of observations as well as number of species in Sweden, we now have @vesper, @daniel_petersen and @jensu sharing the top three positions in these lists.

We encourage anyone from Sweden to affiliate your account with iNaturalist.Se in your account settings. By affiliating with your local network site, you can receive updates about relevant iNaturalist-related news and events. Affiliation is also important for sharing data for research and conservation purposes. SLU Swedish Species Information Centre will have periodic access to the exact locations of some observations that are not otherwise visible to public:
-True coordinates of observations that you have chosen to make obscured or private (via user-selected “geoprivacy”), if you have affiliated your account with iNaturalist.Se.
-True coordinates of sensitive species from Sweden, which are otherwise automatically obscured from public view (via “taxon geoprivacy”), even if you are not affiliated with iNaturalist.Se.

About the iNaturalist Network

The iNaturalist Network now has 17 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, iNaturalist United Kingdom, iNaturalist Guatemala, and now iNaturalist Sweden. 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.

Välkommen, iNaturalist Sverige!

Idag välkomnar vi officiellt iNaturalist Sverige som den nyaste medlemmen av iNaturalist-nätverket! iNaturalist.Se är ett samarbete med SLU Artdatabanken, ett nationellt kunskapscentrum för bland annat insamling, analys och tillgängliggörande av data om Sveriges arter och naturtyper. Det är en av Sveriges lantbruksuniversitets formella centrumbildningar.

Det mesta av arbetet som utförs vid SLU Artdatabanken passar in i Sveriges lantbruksuniversitets program för Miljöövervakning och Miljöanalys, med fokus på långsiktiga mål för hållbar utveckling formulerade av riksdagen i, t.ex., Sveriges miljömål. De arbetar med uppdrag från regeringen och andra myndigheter inom området för svensk biologisk mångfald, ofta i samarbete med olika ideella föreningar. De genomför även forskning inom områdena ekologi och naturvård.

Det finns ett stort allmänt intresse i Sverige för arter och natur, vilket har ökat ytterligare under pandemin. Ett blogginlägg från 2019 om iNaturalist-aktivitet i Sverige visar på en fördubblad aktivitet jämfört med två år tidigare. Detta fördubblades ytterligare på bara ett extra år (2020). Nu, i maj 2021, har vi över 114 000 observationer från Sverige, varav ungefär hälften är av forskningsklass. Det ska bli spännande att se hur det utvecklas 2021, särskilt nu med lanseringen av iNaturalist.Se.

Där vi tidigare hade @evahedstrom i toppen av både listan över antal observationer och antal arter, hittar vi nu @vesper, @daniel_petersen och @jensu på topp tre i dessa listor.

Vi uppmuntrar alla från Sverige att knyta sitt konto till iNaturalist.Se i sina kontoinställningar. Genom att knyta ditt konto till din lokala webbplats, kan du få uppdateringar om relevanta iNaturalist-relaterade nyheter och händelser. Anknytningen är också viktig för att dela data i forsknings- och naturvårdssyfte. SLU Artdatabanken kommer att ha regelbunden tillgång till de verkliga koordinaterna för en del observationer som annars inte är allmänt tillgängliga:
-Verkliga koordinater för observationer som du har valt att diffusera eller hålla dolda (via användarens val av “koordinatsekretess”), om du har knutit ditt konto till iNaturalist.Se.
-Verkliga koordinater för skyddade arter i Sverige, som annars automatiskt diffuseras för allmänheten (via “taxons koordinatsekretess”), även om du inte är knuten till iNaturalist.Se.

iNaturalist-nätverket har nu 17 nationellt fokuserade webbplatser som är helt kopplade till och kompatibla med det globala iNaturalist. Webbplatserna är: Naturalista Mexiko, iNaturalist Kanada, iNaturalist Nya Zealand (förut NatureWatchNZ), Naturalista Colombia, BioDiversity4All (Portugal), iNaturalist Panama, iNaturalist Ecuador, iNaturalist Australien, ArgentiNat (Argentina), iNaturalist Israel, iNaturalist Finland, iNaturalist Chile, iNaturalist Grekland, iNaturalist Luxemburg, iNaturalist Storbritannien, iNaturalist Guatemala, och nu iNaturalist Sverige. Alla iNaturalist-användare kan logga in på vilken som helst av dessa webbplatser med sitt användarnamn och lösenord och kommer att se samma aviseringar.

iNaturalists nätverksmodell möjliggör anpassning av iNaturalist-upplevelsen för att bättre tillgodose communityns behov på en nationell nivå, utan att för den skull dela upp den i isolerade, nationella webbplatser. iNaturalist-teamet är tacksamt för den kommunikation, översättning och användarsupport som görs av iNaturalist-nätverkets medlemmar.

Posted on May 20, 2021 04:35 by carrieseltzer carrieseltzer | 8 comments | Leave a comment

May 17, 2021

Welcome, iNaturalist Guatemala! ¡Bienvenidos, iNaturalist Guatemala!

Today we officially welcome iNaturalist Guatemala as the newest member of the iNaturalist Network! iNaturalistGT is a collaboration with the National Council of Protected Areas -CONAP-, National Information System on Biological Diversity -SNIBgt-, Guatemalan Association of Mastozoology, the Foundation for Rural Development Junej T´inam and OTUS.

The logo is inspired by the national bird of Guatemala, the majestic Quetzal, Pharomachrus mocinno, which is also the name of Guatemala's currency. This species has been considered sacred by the Maya culture and appears in many stories and legends. This bird lives in undisturbed cloud forests, and the males’ emerald green color, scarlet red breast, and long tail feathers make them unmistakable. It is an endangered species, mainly due to the loss of habitat, and it is highly protected in Guatemala.

The iNaturalist community in Guatemala is growing, with more than 2300 observers, 2400 identifiers and more than 30,000 observations to date. The main priority is to create an awareness of conservation of natural resources in all citizens, while generating knowledge about the biodiversity of our country. All the data collected that reach the research level will feed the National Information System on Biological Diversity (Sistema Nacional de Información sobre Diversidad Biológica -SNIBgt-) and will serve for research and improve decision-making in the management of protected areas and biological diversity. iNaturalistGT is coordinated and administered by the Directorate for the Assessment and Conservation of Biological Diversity of CONAP.

About the iNaturalist Network

The iNaturalist Network now has 16 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, iNaturalist United Kingdom, and now iNaturalist Guatemala. 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.

¡Bienvenidos, iNaturalist Guatemala!

¡Hoy damos la bienvenida oficialmente a iNaturalist Guatemala como el miembro más nuevo de la Red iNaturalist! iNaturalistGT es una colaboración con el Consejo Nacional de Áreas Protegidas -CONAP-, Sistema Nacional de Información sobre Diversidad Biológica -SNIBgt-, Asociación Guatemalteca de Mastozoología, the Fundación para el Desarrollo Rural Junej T´inam y OTUS.

Nuestro logo está inspirado en el ave nacional de Guatemala, el majestuoso Quetzal, Pharomachrus mocinno, que también es el nombre de nuestra moneda. Esta especie ha sido considerada sagrada por la cultura maya y aparece dignamente en muchas historias y leyendas. Esta ave vive en bosques nubosos poco perturbados, y su especial belleza se caracteriza por su color verde esmeralda, su pecho rojo escarlata y las largas plumas de la cola hacen que los machos sean inconfundibles. Es una especie en peligro de extinción, principalmente por la pérdida de hábitat, y se encuentra altamente protegida en nuestro país.

La comunidad iNaturalist en Guatemala está creciendo, estamos iniciando con más de 2200 observadores, 2400 identificadores y más de 30 mil observaciones, ¡y vamos por más! Más personas de todas las edades se están involucrando y conociendo la biodiversidad de Guatemala. El objetivo principal es crear conciencia sobre la conservación de los recursos naturales en todos los ciudadanos, al tiempo que se genera conocimiento sobre la diversidad biológica de nuestro país. Todos los datos recopilados que alcancen el grado de investigación alimentarán al Sistema Nacional de Información sobre Diversidad Biológica -SNIBgt- y servirán para realizar investigación y mejorar la toma de decisiones en la gestión de áreas protegidas y diversidad biológica. iNaturalistGT es coordinado y administrado por la Dirección de Valoración y Conservación de la Diversidad Biológica del CONAP.

Acerca de la iNaturalist Network

La Red iNaturalist ahora tiene 16 sitios enfocados a nivel nacional que están completamente conectados e interoperables con el sitio global iNaturalist. Los sitios son: Naturalista México, iNaturalist Canadá, iNaturalist Nueva Zelanda (antes NatureWatchNZ), Naturalista Colombia, BioDiversity4All (Portugal), iNaturalist Panamá, iNaturalist Ecuador, iNaturalist Australia, ArgentiNat (Argentina), iNaturalist Israel, iNaturalist Finlandia, iNaturalist Chile Grecia, iNaturalist Luxemburgo, iNaturalist Reino Unido, y ahora iNaturalist Guatemala. Cualquier usuario de iNaturalist puede iniciar sesión en cualquiera de los sitios usando su mismo nombre de usuario y contraseña y verá las mismas notificaciones.

El modelo de iNaturalist Network permite localizar la experiencia de iNaturalist para apoyar mejor a las comunidades a escala nacional y al liderazgo local en el movimiento, sin dividir la comunidad en sitios nacionales aislados. El equipo de iNaturalist agradece el alcance, la capacitación, las traducciones y el apoyo a los usuarios, realizado a través de los esfuerzos de las instituciones miembros de la Red de iNaturalist.

Posted on May 17, 2021 11:34 by carrieseltzer carrieseltzer | 19 comments | Leave a comment