Observation patterns for spring wildflowers

I started using iNat late last summer, so I missed out on observing spring wildflowers in 2019. Now that those species are beginning to poke out of the ground again, I wanted to get a handle on what's out there to see. So I downloaded a raw dataset of iNat observations and loaded it into R to create some visualizations.

My dataset includes all research-grade plant observations in Cook County, IL in 2019. I focused on plant species that had 100+ observations and were mainly observed during the spring months. I created calendar heat maps to show the number of observations recorded on each day, with darker colors representing higher numbers of observations.

While many of these observations represent plants that were in bloom, the dataset also includes observations made before and after the blooming period when, for example, maybe only the leaves or a seed pod were present. So the calendar heat maps show when you might be able to see the plant, not necessarily when you will see it in bloom.

Here is the calendar heat map for Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), showing that most observations were clustered in mid-late April.

Eastern Shooting Star (Primula meadia) appeared later, with most observations logged during the month of May.

White Fawn Lily (Erythronium album) was observed during a narrow time frame...

while Jack-in-the-Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) had a cluster of spring observations, but also sporadic observations throughout the summer.

These visualizations have a lot of caveats since they're based on crowdsourced data. The observations don’t represent a systematic collection effort and there may be data quality problems. They show observations following a particularly harsh winter, and I’ll be curious to see if this winter's relatively mild weather results in different patterns in the timing of observations. But I think they still provide some helpful information about what I should look for over the next several months.

Here are a few other species that I graphed:





Posted by joelmc joelmc, March 24, 2020 23:43

Comments

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Cool visualizations!

Posted by bouteloua over 1 year ago (Flag)
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Is there a way to filter exported iNat data based on phenology annotations? Some of the data in these heat maps almost certainly includes pre- and post-bloom observations. Although it looks like the majority of observations in the above heat maps occurred during blooming periods for most of the above plants (as would be expected).

Posted by dziomber over 1 year ago (Flag)
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Yes, these charts definitely include both bloom and non-bloom observations. I should have mentioned that. I'll add a note.

When I downloaded the dataset I couldn't figure out how to include phenology annotations. And I often find that the phenology annotations field is blank, so I'm not sure how much I would have had to work with even if I had been able to download it. I wish that information were available. It would really be helpful for producing visualizations like this.

Posted by joelmc over 1 year ago (Flag)
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Annotations aren't in the normal exports (yet--hopefully added if/when they redesign that page).

You can get them through the API and by using certain search filters: https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/data-users-what-are-your-use-cases-and-requests-for-exporting-data/2972/60

Posted by bouteloua over 1 year ago (Flag)
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That's great--thank you!

Posted by joelmc over 1 year ago (Flag)

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