June 03, 2016

How to Log High Quality Observations

As part of this BioBlitz, you're helping take real scientific data that can be used for future research. What follows are a number of ways you can improve your data and make it more useful.

1). Take great photos!
This is by far the most important thing you can do. Without a photo, no one can verify your observation, and it will never be research-grade. Even a blurry or distant photo of an animal or bird is an improvement and better than nothing.

Take several photos too! Try to capture different views or perspectives, and be mindful of capturing the characteristics important for identification. For plants, I often turn over a leaf so the underside is showing, or take a photo of the flower, and another of the leaves, or one of the whole plant.

Ideally, you should try to make sure your subject is in focus and well-lit. This can be difficult for small organisms, but without sharp focus, it's tough for others to tell what you found.

Tips to get good quality photos

  • Putting your finger in the photo often gives the camera something to focus on, and can help you get sharp focus. On an iPhone if you touch and hold the area with your finger, the camera will focus-lock and you can then remove your finger.
  • To ensure even lighting and less shadows on a sunny day, use your body to shade the observation.
  • Get closer! The closer you are to your organism, the more detail you'll have in your photo. Note though that most cameras can't focus closer than 3-12 inches away.
  • Some examples here: Take better photos on iNaturalist

2). Provide accurate GPS coordinates
Rough locations are good, but precise GPS coordinates are better. If using a smartphone, make sure you keep an eye on the GPS accuracy. Sometimes if you log an observation too quickly, or if service is poor, the accuracy can be very low. Be patient and try to wait until it's +/- 5-10 meters.

3). Give some sense of scale
For many organisms, size is an important identifying characteristic. Especially if you know size is important, try to take photos with something for scale. A small ruler is ideal, however a penny or other coin will do, or even your finger in a pinch.

4). Identify as best as you can
If you don't know what something is, try to identify it to some higher taxonomic group. For example, you can label it as Plants, Insects, or Birds. Doing this makes it easier for experts in those groups to find your observation and help you identify it.

5). Add notes
Especially if you don't have an ID for an organism, take notes about where you found it or anything else that seems relevant (eg. prevalence, phenology, associated species). For example, mentioning that you found it in a swamp can be very helpful in narrowing down an identification.

Posted on June 03, 2016 14:24 by mickley mickley | 1 comment | Leave a comment

June 02, 2016

Remote Bioblitz Help: Standby to ID observations

Our Connecticut State Bioblitz is just around the corner, starting tomorrow (Friday) at 3:00 PM EDT and running through 3:00 PM EDT on Saturday.

We're after the world bioblitz species record, and in addition to 180+ experts from across the Northeast, we've assembled a small team of some of the most prolific iNaturalist users from the Eastern United States.

Ken-ichi Ueda (@kueda) is here and he's very excited to hold a 'microblitz' for the public to allow them to learn how to use iNaturalist. This will be running from 11:00 AM to 2:30 PM EDT and we expect a lot of poorly-identified observations from this component.

So we need your help! If you're able to ID or confirm observations remotely on Friday or Saturday, and especially during the microblitz on Saturday that would be fantastic! Please consider donating a small amount of time to participating in solidarity with those of us on the ground!

Please spread the word as well! @sambiology, @aguilita, @greglasley, @borisb, @loarie, @kevinhintsa, @d_kluza, @john8, @dhobern, @fm5050, @rcurtis, @muir, @polemoniaceae, @kylejones, @choess, @wildflowerenthusiast5, @tsn, @treichard, @botanygirl, @allenratzlaff, @zaccota, @kpmcfarland, @larry522, @rpayne.

Posted on June 02, 2016 17:17 by mickley mickley | 4 comments | Leave a comment

May 25, 2016

CT State Bioblitz Updates

The Blitz is just around the corner and we are reaching our capacity for registered scientists/naturalists (over 175!). So, our online registration is now closed and we're handling new sign ups case by case. We still welcome iNaturalist observations from everyone though - there is no limit on that. So, if you're in the East Hartford area on June 3rd and 4th, please do go out and iNaturalist your heart out.

Further, if you're new to iNat and are looking to get more proficient, come by the Two Rivers Magnet Middle School at 11am on Saturday June 4th - @kueda will be leading a workshop/grassroots bioblitz then.

On Saturday there will be a full public program, so please come by, bring your family and friends and enjoy the event. It's all free and you can even get a 1/2 priced family ticket to the CT Science Museum.

Better yet, if you'd like to help out as a volunteer at the event, we absolutely need you! Please contact @karolina or karolina.fucikova[at]gmail.com to sign up. There will be plenty jobs to do - helping man exhibits, run workshops, work with scientists on sorting and identifying specimens and logging them into iNat, and more.

Hope to see you soon!

Posted on May 25, 2016 15:25 by karolina karolina | 0 comments | Leave a comment

March 09, 2016

Welcome Ken-ichi!

We're very thankful to have Ken-ichi Ueda (@kueda) joining us in person here in Connecticut to help organize and run this bioblitz.

Ken-ichi is a co-founder of iNaturalist, and he'll be helping us grow a very significant iNaturalist component, with both public outreach and a serious team of experienced iNaturalist users. We hope this will be a great experience for all involved, and an opportunity for many East Coast iNaturalist users to meet the man behind the website!

Looking forward to seeing you in June Ken-ichi!

Posted on March 09, 2016 21:11 by mickley mickley | 5 comments | Leave a comment

January 15, 2016

Announcement: Large Bioblitz @ Two Rivers Magnet Middle School, East Hartford CT

Circle June 3rd and 4th on your calendars and join us for a 24-hour inventory of species diversity in East Hartford coordinated by scientists at the University of Connecticut.

In terms of ease of access, infrastructural support, comfort, convenience, number of participating scientists, and diversity of habitats this promises to be a special opportunity.

We would like to invite experienced and prolific naturalists from the iNaturalist community to help out, especially if you have expertise with under-represented taxonomic groups. Please let us know if you're interested and spread the word.

In particular: @karolina, @benedictgagliardi, @rmedina, @berkshirenaturalist, @maractwin, @invertzoo, @charlie, @cyric, @jessicalodwick, @kellyfuerstenberg, @yasingi, @nlblock, @susanelliott

Kickoff will be at 3 PM on Friday the 3rd.

Posted on January 15, 2016 23:38 by mickley mickley | 3 comments | Leave a comment