May 25, 2016

MoTX icon changed to Swift Fox, a TNT Target Species

We just changed the icon for the project to a Swift Fox to highlight the importance of this species. Swift Foxes used to be found throughout the high plains of Texas, but in the last 20 years they have not been detected in Texas outside of two of our northernmost counties. This image was actually taken in Colorado, thank you @greglasley! (http://www.inaturalist.org/observations/199660). To learn more about our most wanted species, check out our TNT targets page: http://tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/wild/wildlife_diversity/texas_nature_trackers/target_species/

Posted on May 25, 2016 16:47 by cullen cullen | 1 comments | Leave a comment

August 04, 2014

The Importance of Accuracy

The folks over at the LA Museum of Natural History project recently posted a great article on the importance of accuracy in iNaturalist. They call it "the least obvious, most important data element."

Check out the article here:

http://www.inaturalist.org/projects/959/journal/3263

Posted on August 04, 2014 17:57 by jonahevans jonahevans | 0 comments | Leave a comment

March 28, 2014

Heatmap of All MOT Observations

Heatmaps are a great way to see where people are concentrating their efforts. Notice the obvious focus on urban areas. Lets all make an effort to fill in some of these gaps!

Thanks to everyone for the hard work. We have almost reached 2000 observations in the project!

Also, in case you haven't heard, the 2014 Mammals of Texas Big Year Competition is under way and going strong. Check out the leaderboards here: http://www.inaturalist.org/projects/mammals-of-texas-big-year-2014

MOT Heatmap

Posted on March 28, 2014 18:58 by jonahevans jonahevans | 0 comments | Leave a comment

January 27, 2014

Mammals of Texas Big Year Competition!

Check out the current 2014 leader board here:
http://www.inaturalist.org/projects/mammals-of-texas-big-year-2014

How many mammals can you see in Texas in 1 year? Since the beginning of the Mammals of Texas Project in June of 2013, there have been 140 species observed by 144 members! You can see a leaderboard for 2013 here:
http://www.inaturalist.org/projects/mammals-of-texas-2013

This year, we challenge you to see how many mammals you can find in Texas in 2014; and the winners will get to choose from some excellent field guides to mammals and animal track identification! In 2013 Chris Hyde made 136 mammal observations to top the "Most Observations" leaderboard and Jonah Evans observed 45 species to top the "Most Species" leaderboard. Of course, they only had seven months. With a full year, you will probably have to find at least 50 species. Is it possible to reach 100?

Let's see what we can do!

Terms of the competition:

This leader board is set up for the 2014 Mammals of Texas Big Year Competition. Please follow these guidelines:
-Observations must be added to the Mammals of Texas Project.
-All observations must be made between Jan 1st and Dec 31st of 2014.
-Each species must have at least one research grade observation with a photograph or a sound recording .
-The Curators of Mammals of Texas will resolve any disputes in species identification.
-Mammals of Texas Curators may not win the competition.
-Participants may win in one of two ways:

1. Observe the most species of Mammals in 2014.
2. Post the most observations of Mammals in 2014.

Posted on January 27, 2014 22:30 by jonahevans jonahevans | 0 comments | Leave a comment

September 19, 2013

Update to the Terms of the project

As the Mammals of Texas Project grows, over 700 observations and counting, we are starting to look at ways that we can use the data. With Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN), we are working with NatureServe to help the project communicate directly with TPWD’s Texas Natural Diversity Database. With some species, we will also be using the observations for distribution modeling. In any case, we want to make sure that observers are aware that by submitting your observations, they will be used. For the sake of clarity, we are adding the following phrase to the Project Terms:

“By adding your observations to this project, you are giving the curators and affiliated institutions permission to use the observations for conservation and research purposes. This use includes the potential back up of photographs for verification purposes, but does not grant permission for the publication or other commercial use of photographs.”

Please let us know if you have any questions or comments. We look forward to posting any interesting highlights here in the project journal.

Posted on September 19, 2013 16:59 by cullen cullen | 0 comments | Leave a comment

August 20, 2013

Geotagging Photos

Smartphone photos are convenient because they add GPS coordinates to every photograph, but what about when you want to use a camera without a GPS? You can mark an observation with the iNaturalist App, but that takes time in the field. The most efficient method is to record your track with your smartphone or a GPS, and use the track file to assign GPS coordinates to your photographs on your computer. It takes a little time to figure out, but once you do, it makes it really easy and fast to geotag your photos.

Steps:
1. Make sure your camera and GPS are set to the same time zone.
2. Track location with a GPS or smartphone while taking pictures.
3. Upload GPS file to your computer.
4. Automatically assign coordinates to photos based on GPS file.
5. Drop your photos into iNaturalist

GPS: You can use any GPS to create a track log (.gpx); a number of models called GPS loggers are small enough to easily fit in your pocket. You can also use your smart phone; a mobile app called GeotagPhotos (http://www.geotagphotos.net) makes this exceptionally easy because it automatically uploads the tracks to dropbox. GPX Master (http://www.rangdasoftware.com/GPX_Master.html) is a free app that does the same thing, and there may be others. If you use a GPS logger then you have the added step of uploading the gpx file to your computer, but it won’t be using your batteries on your phone. Either way, make sure your camera is set to the right date, time, and time zone.

If you have a GPS that does not export the track as a GPX file, GPS babel (http://www.gpsbabel.org/) is free software that will convert the file to GPX.

Assigning coordinates: Once the track file (GPX) is on your computer it is easy to assign coordinates to photos with most photo management software. In Adobe Lightroom it takes about two clicks to geotag all the photos from a trip. If you don’t have software that will do this, there are free options that will:

http://www.earlyinnovations.com/gpsphotolinker/
http://code.google.com/p/gpicsync/
http://www.geosetter.de/en/

This youtube video shows how easy it is to geotag photos with the GeotagPhotos app and Adobe Lightroom:

http://youtu.be/Vqbw5Aw3U90

Geotagging your photos makes adding them to iNaturalist a breeze. You can just drag and drop them into iNaturalist, and iNaturalist will automatically create the location based on the coordinates in the metadata. It will also automatically bring in the name and comments if you filled out the metadata. The only thing it doesn’t do is assign the accuracy, which can be done with a quick batch edit. Here is a link to the photo uploader:

http://www.inaturalist.org/observations/upload

Posted on August 20, 2013 20:10 by cullen cullen | 0 comments | Leave a comment

August 10, 2013

Best Practices for Photographing Tracks

As the Mammals of Texas project continues to grow, we are seeing more and more photos of tracks and sign. Tracks are an excellent way to document many of the more secretive mammals, but how you photograph them dramatically effects whether others will be able see enough to provide an identification.

Here are a few tips on taking photos of tracks that will help make it easy for others to identify them later.
1) Include a scale. Please whenever possible include a ruler in the photo. If you don't have a ruler, use a penny or other coin. Pocket knives come in many sizes and are of little use as a scale.

2) Shade the track. In bright light, your photos will often look much better if the track is shaded. This also eliminates dark shadows that can distort the track. 95% of the track photos I take are shaded.

3) Take a close up and a contextual photo. Take a good close up photo of the track as well as a photo from a little ways back that includes the gait pattern and other associated tracks. A photo of the general area that shows the habitat can also be helpful.

Keep up the great work everyone.

Posted on August 10, 2013 13:35 by jonahevans jonahevans | 0 comments | Leave a comment

July 19, 2013

The need for assigning accuracy

We are seeing observations with a range of locational accuracy, a measurement of the location’s precision. Some people are posting observations from with very general locations (over 1 km), while others are posting observations that are mapped to within 5 or 10 meters of the actual observation. No matter what your accuracy is for an observation, it is important to assign the accuracy so we know how the data can be used. An observation lacking an assigned accuracy has very limited value.

The observations that you provide are used for a variety of conservation purposes. Some do not require a high degree of accuracy, like county lists. Other projects, like distribution modeling, require an accuracy of 30 meters or less. Observations without an assigned accuracy will not be used for environmental review, conservation planning, or distribution modeling.

Fortunately, it is easy to assign accuracy with iNaturalist. If you record the location with the iNaturalist app, then it assigns the accuracy automatically. However, if you assign the location using the metadata from a photo, or by manually mapping it through the web interface, then you need to add the accuracy by editing the observation.

The accuracy field, labeled “Acc (M)”, is located directly below the coordinates, and just above the map. Just enter the distance in meters that includes the entire area where the observation could have taken place. When you assign accuracy, a red circle around the point will appear. You can click on the circle and drag it in or out based on the map and it will automatically adjust the accuracy. It is also possible to edit accuracy for multiple observations using the batch edit tool.

If you are concerned about mapping a precise location, you may want to adjust the geoprivacy setting. You can learn more about geoprivacy here: http://www.inaturalist.org/pages/help#geoprivacy

Posted on July 19, 2013 19:48 by cullen cullen | 4 comments | Leave a comment

July 17, 2013

Adding sounds to observations

Thanks to the Snake Days Event and TPWD, you can now document observations by recording sounds! This function was added for the sake of Amphibians, but this is a valuable tool for documenting mammals as well. The sounds can be added in addition to the photograph, and some sounds are enough to provide a solid identification on their own.
Currently, you have to upload your recording to SoundCloud, and then add the recording to the observation online. SoundCloud has a great app that you can use to record sounds with your smartphone, but you can also upload any recording from any device to your SoundCloud account. We hope that sounds will eventually be incorporated into the iNaturalist mobile app, but for now the easiest way to document sounds is with the SoundCloud app.

Suggested steps for adding a sound to an observation:

1. Sign up for a SoundCloud account: www.soundcloud.com
2. Download the SoundCloud app if you have a smartphone.
3. Record a sound in the field. If you are using the SoundCloud app, be sure to name it with a unique name and location. The app does not automatically record the date, time, and location.
4. Add an iNaturalist observation to record the date, time, and location. Be sure to note the unique name of the sound recording.
5. When you get back to your computer, link your iNaturalist account to SoundCloud. There is a link to connect to SoundCloud when you edit your profile. If you are not linked to SoundCloud, you will be prompted to link to SoundCloud when you add a sound to an observation.
6. Edit your observation, and click on “Add sounds” in the upper right hand corner.
7. You should see a list of your sounds on SoundCloud. Click on the box next to your sound recording, and then “Save observation” at the bottom of the page.

Remember, you can post sounds in addition to photographs or based on sounds alone. Either way, we are excited about this new tool and looking forward to hearing some sounds!

Posted on July 17, 2013 17:14 by cullen cullen | 1 comments | Leave a comment