July 06, 2017

Advice for people running projects—what do you want to know/tell?

I posted in the Google group about this last night but thought I'd try here too since not everyone is in the Google group.

For while I've thought that the Help section could benefit from more advice/tips specifically for projects and many of the regular readers of this group have experience with organizing/running/curating projects in iNaturalist. If you're a site curator you could theoretically edit the html of the help page, but since that's a much higher bar to contribution I thought I'd start a Google Doc for drafting.

So if you know a thing or two about iNaturalist projects, what do you think other people should know if they want to start a project? Or do a better job with the project they already have? Anyone should be able to edit using this link: https://docs.google.com/document/d/16d2CHlEUM_TdxFzQZi8R4AqwOoji7crjbWhRhAm7CYQ/edit?usp=sharing

I started with a few questions and sections, but please jump in and edit/revise/expand. Then after we've got something more substantial we can get it in the Help section on iNat.

This community has a wealth of knowledge to help each other be more effective with projects! Let's get more of it out there.

Posted on July 06, 2017 05:02 PM by carrieseltzer carrieseltzer | 17 comments | Leave a comment

January 09, 2017

DC January (indoor) iNaturalist gathering report

We had a small gathering at my house yesterday with @muir, @maryeford, @danbeaupre, @stsang, and @jackcamino. Good food and drink were consumed (including delicious flan made by Jack!) and iNaturalist knowledge was shared. I meant to take more photos of people, but I got distracted.

Below (left to right): @jackcamino (eating flan), @maryeford (getting ready to leave), and @stsang (looking at bats)

It was a little chaotic with the 3 year olds, but they had fun too (they argued over things like whether or not a plastic sea lion needed to swim in the dog's water dish and who got to wear a cat costume).

Below: @muir with his son and my daughter.

Unfortunately, my whole household came down with some kind of flu in the ~12 hours afterwards, so I sincerely hope that no one else picks up what we have.

Who wants to plan for February? March? April? I know several of you expressed interest in future events. Pick a date and location that works for you and let's make it happen. @treegrow do you still want to do winter tree ID in Rock Creek Park?

Tagging several who are interested: @laura_sebastianelli @katzyna @calopteryx @ecologyelise @mattluizza @judygva @timbir5

Posted on January 09, 2017 02:05 AM by carrieseltzer carrieseltzer | 8 comments | Leave a comment

January 01, 2017

An awesome iNaturalist year!

iNaturalist was one of my favorite things in 2016. I made a secret resolution to myself a year ago to try and make an observation every day, and then I promptly failed at that right away (missing January 4). Still, I tried to make observations on as many days as possible, and did manage every day in July (then blew that streak when I my iPhone was stolen in August).

I made 2313 observations this year of 809+ species (to all of you who manage to do more, I am super impressed! I'm not sure I'll be able to do as many in 2017). Exactly 1000 were made on National Park Service lands for the 2016 Servicewide NPS BioBlitz. I helped plan a ridiculously large BioBlitz in Washington, D.C. (but made only a few observations during that one), went to the Masonville Cove BioBlitz, attended BioBlitz Korea and spread the word about iNaturalist, and visited Acadia National Park for their longest-running NPS BioBlitz. But my most observation-full trip was a 10-day RV trip in June with my husband, daughter, and parents visiting National Parks in Nevada, Arizona, and Utah. I haven't spent much time in deserts so most everything was new. My philosophy was to photograph everything that was blooming, moving, or dead.

At the end of August, I left my job at National Geographic to start a fellowship at the National Science Foundation. My new job is 100% inside (instead of just 95%!), but it has taken me to Qatar, France, Belgium, and California in the last 3 months, so I've tried to take advantage of that as best I can (really kicking myself for failing to make an observation during my 24 hours in Belgium).

There are so many things to love about iNaturalist, but I love the people the most. I am so excited about the newcomers who joined this year, especially the ones who came in through BioBlitzes. There are too many of you to tag—even just those I know personally! I have also loved getting to know some of you as Facebook friends, even though we haven't (yet!) met in person. I am very appreciative of CalAcademy's continued support of iNaturalist so that the awesome staff can continue to support and grow this community. I visited San Francisco earlier this month and saw all the iNaturalist staff at CalAcademy—@tiwane, @loarie, @kueda, @alexshepard, and @joelle (with a virtual sighting of @pleary). While in the Bay Area I also got a late night tour of Oakland with @damontighe and went tide pooling (for the first time in ages) with @rebeccafay, @kestrel, @robberfly, @dpom, and @reallifeecology.

To my DC area iNaturalists, I'm excited to see more of you in 2017 if we can get a monthly meet up going. I'm planning the first one on January 7th at my house—bring your laptop and some food or drink to share. (Chime in on this post). Are any other cities currently having regular meet ups? Anyone else want to start?

Thanks to all for a great iNaturalist 2016 and cheers to more observations, identifications, and new naturalist friends in 2017!

Posted on January 01, 2017 12:02 AM by carrieseltzer carrieseltzer | 6 comments | Leave a comment

December 13, 2016

iNaturalist DC gatherings in 2017—let's meet in January!

Fellow naturalist neighbors, I’d love for us to gather on a regular basis to learn more about iNaturalist and DC nature from each other. We could gather outdoors to explore generally, or focus on a more targeted group of organisms (like a mini BioBlitz). We could also gather indoors with our laptops to upload observations (if you’re behind like me), add identifications, or plan our next outdoor adventure based on taxa that haven't yet been recorded from the area on iNaturalist.

I will kick off this local effort off by hosting an indoor gathering at my house in Northeast DC on Saturday, January 7th from 1-4 pm. Kids welcome. I’ll send my address to attendees personally if you plan to come (I live in Brookland, near the Red Line. Should be plenty of on street parking.). Bring your laptop and some food or drink to share!

Who wants to plan something for February? Doesn’t have to be at your house—that just happens to be the easiest place for me to organize people.

Tagging some DC/MD/VA folks to get this rolling—please tag others! @muir @treegrow @briangratwicke @calopteryx @grizzlypieper @maryeford @jbrown @laura_sebastianelli @dossification @nloewen @ehurme @katzyna @csavy @jfrancis @danbeaupre @anneanderson @blairrowan @alonsoabugattas

Posted on December 13, 2016 12:10 AM by carrieseltzer carrieseltzer | 20 comments | Leave a comment

November 15, 2016

Where I've been and where I'm going: Qatar, France, Belgium, and San Francisco

Between losing my phone in August and changing jobs in September, I fell behind on observations and haven't managed to catch up yet! I also haven't been able to spend nearly as much time on iNaturalist lately, but I try to check in at least once a day to keep up on notifications.

Really this is just a quick post because I'm going to be in Paris and Brussels at the end of the month and I'd love to meet up with other iNaturalists if the stars align. Tagging a few people at the top of the leaderboards for France and Belgium (and a couple of others of you who I "know" a little better) just in case anyone will be in Paris on 27-29 Nov or Brussels on 30 Nov: @guille @fabienpiednoir @zanskar @tkoffel @annetanne @purperlibel @speedy @jakob @dhobern @kcopas

Then in December, I'll be at the American Geophysical Union meeting if anyone wants to meet up at that. Sounds like there will be several sessions on citizen science. Unfortunately I am going to be so tied up at AGU that I really won't have much time to explore the bay area, but of course I'll try to get in a visit to iNaturalist.

Last month I visited Qatar and met some nice naturalists (and of course did some iNaturalist evangelizing!) but I haven't had a chance to post my observations yet. Oh, except this myna I posted when demonstrating how the app works.

There's more travel in 2017 but I'm not sure where and when yet, beyond the Citizen Science Association meeting in Minneapolis May. Visitors welcome in DC—had the pleasure of meeting @eraskin when he passed through DC and looking forward to meeting @bouteloua when she comes in January! I love meeting more of this social network in real life.

Posted on November 15, 2016 05:02 AM by carrieseltzer carrieseltzer | 1 observations | 4 comments | Leave a comment

July 09, 2016

Other platforms like iNaturalist

Two years ago when I started working on the [now defunct] Great Nature Project at National Geographic and integrating it with iNaturalist, I quickly starting growing a list of other platforms with a similar mission to help people record and share their observations of biodiversity and connect with other nature lovers. I thought I'd found a use for Pinterest, but apparently you can only see my "board" if you're logged in, and I don't blame anyone for not wanting to join Pinterest. In the process of starting to write this journal post, it occurred to me that the information may be most useful in spreadsheet form (I should have been doing that all along!).

Link to spreadsheet of platforms!

Generally, these other platforms fall into these four categories:
-Global and all-taxa (like iNaturalist)
-National/regional and all-taxa
-Taxonomically specific and global
-Restricted geographically and taxonomically

Among the platform, there are also ranges of:
-Social interaction (i.e. can you interact with other people's observations or just your own?)
-Data sharing (how much can you actually see/download?)
-Expert review
-Identification tools/resources
-Mapping tools
-Educational resources

Let me emphasize the following:
-The list is incomplete. I generally didn't list platforms that were restricted geographically AND taxonomically (e.g. gobotany). Feel free to suggest others that should be on here.
-I'm happy to give edit access to anyone interested in helping expand the spreadsheet.
-Some of the summary information I entered in the spreadsheet may be wrong. Please correct me! I usually didn't spend more than a few minutes on each site (specifically for the purposes of populating the spreadsheet) and may have missed things.
-I didn't include EOL in the list because it filled a related but separate niche of biodiversity information (rather than more strictly about observations/records).

I've been wanting to write this up for months, so what better way to spend this Friday night, right? I've dabbled here and there over the last couple of years and talked with some of the people involved in these sites, but others have been difficult to explore due to language barriers, complicated interfaces, and geographic/taxonomic limitations (i.e. I can't contribute to a platform in a country I've never visited). I also included iNaturalist's four country portals (Mexico, Colombia, New Zealand, and Canada) on their own lines but their numbers are included in the iNaturalist total. I included "unverifiable" observations in the counts because many other sites rely heavily on similarly reported records so I thought it would be a better comparison.

I may be wrong about this, but my impression also is that there were two "waves" of these platforms. Several started in 2009-2010 and most of those look like they haven't had much investment for the last few years. Then there's a second wave of newer platforms that started around 2012.

I find the little sites restricted to a small geographic area most fascinating. I have immense appreciation for the amount of time and skill that it takes to develop and maintain a platform like these, and I'm amazed that some of these tiny user markets have been able to fund themselves. I suspect that the vast majority of people/organizations that set out to create a platform vastly underestimate the resources needed to do it well (I've been that person and seen it first hand!). I think it's useful and important to have independent evolution of some platforms, but there's also a big argument for working together and pooling resources to build upon existing infrastructure (i.e. New Zealand's NatureWatch integrating directly with iNaturalist). The most extreme version of this I ever saw (and haven't included here) was a site developed solely for reporting a handful of snake species in a very small geographic area. In the success column, I convinced a project manager on iNaturalist not to try to make a custom iNat app branded for his project because he had an impossibly small budget.

Also interesting: it's really hard to find user numbers on most of these platforms! Please fill in any of the missing numbers if you can. It was hard to find numbers of observations/records too, but I could often estimate from a page count.

What do you think? What am I missing? Send me your email address if you want to be able to edit the spreadsheet.

Posted on July 09, 2016 04:07 AM by carrieseltzer carrieseltzer | 46 comments | Leave a comment

May 31, 2016

Headed out west for Grand Circle Trip through NV, AZ, and UT!

My family (me, husband, daughter, and parents) is flying to Las Vegas, renting an RV, and then going to Lake Mead, the Grand Canyon, Canyonlands, Arches, Bryce Canyon, Zion, and Valley of Fire. If any iNaturalists out that way want to meet up, message me with your email address and I can share our itinerary. We leave TODAY—I'm at the airport now!

I’m super excited about adding tons of observations on this trip, especially now that the new uploader makes it easier to add a lot at once. Also, I’m pretty clueless about western ecosystems, so I anticipate needing a lot of ID help.

This is a much-anticipated vacation after much hard work for BioBlitz. I’m incredibly excited about exploring this new-to-me part of the U.S.!

Posted on May 31, 2016 10:00 AM by carrieseltzer carrieseltzer | 6 comments | Leave a comment

Fort DuPont Park needs more iNaturalist love

Fort DuPont is the second-largest wooded park in DC (Rock Creek Park is biggest). It has some great habitat, but it’s not on most people’s radar. There weren’t any BioBlitz activities there (it’s part of National Capital Parks East which had activities in both Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens and Piscataway Park), so I thought it could use a little post-BioBlitz iNaturalist love. I’ve only been there once before and didn’t make it very far. There were just a handful of iNaturalist observations from the park (@ahay, @athryn, and @steveramanand), so @reallifeecology (Jonathan Carpenter) and I met up on Friday to help remedy that!

Noteworthy observations:
-3 kinds of slime mold.
-Several kinds of moss with sporophytes.
-Mountain laurel in bloom.
-Recently fallen hemlock. It was the only one we saw and it was unclear why it fell. We suspected a possible lightning strike, but even that seems strange.
-Massive white oak. @reallifeecology got a photo with me in it for scale.
-The tick my husband pulled off later that night.

For anyone interested in adding more to the NPS Servicewide 2016 BioBlitz project (and therefore moving up on the leaderboard), this is NPS land! Come make some observations! You can easily see where we explored (link to map) so I encourage others in the area to check out other parts of the park as well!

Posted on May 31, 2016 05:58 AM by carrieseltzer carrieseltzer | 50 observations | 3 comments | Leave a comment

May 29, 2016

BioBlitz encore!

Thank you to everyone who turned out and helped at the DC BioBlitz last weekend! I was overwhelmingly tied up making sure that everyone else ended up where they needed to be, but I did have a chance to help @rachelstephenson and @figgtails make some of their first iNaturalist observations on Saturday afternoon at Constitution Gardens when one of our experts was unable to make it. There was so much to look at with our Easy Macros that we spent the whole time in one small patch of lawn!

Since I didn’t get to do much exploring on my own during the event, we had a BioBlitz encore on Sunday at Dyke Marsh with @loarie, @calopteryx, @reallifeecology, and some young naturalists! We also ran into @lynnparsons and some other BioBlitzers. My daughter said the best part was throwing rocks in the water with @reallifeecology’s son Cypress but I loved the huge crayfish!

It was especially great to go out with out-of-town supernaturalists @loarie and @reallifeecology. Scott had to head back to California but Jonathan and his family along with Matthew O’Donnell came back to hang out and have dinner at my place (and make a few more observations in my yard).

Posted on May 29, 2016 05:02 AM by carrieseltzer carrieseltzer | 22 observations | 1 comments | Leave a comment

May 16, 2016

BioBlitz, BioBlitz, BioBlitz! (also, come identify with us on Friday night!)

It's coming!!! I just unsubscribed from "all observations from the District of Columbia" so that my daily updates email isn't insanely long.

So many people have been working hard on this event in DC (@maryeford, @jbrown, @alliepetersen, @kellycoy to name just a few of the people I interact with the most!) and many more working on not only this BioBlitz but also supporting other events across the country (@loarie, @tiwane, @forester93, @geobudde, @biogeek5, @alexandra6). Very excited to have some local iNaturalists coming out for BioBlitz, including @treegrow, @calopteryx, and SO MANY OTHERS, especially all of the new folks recruited and trained by @alliepetersen! Also excited to have some people coming in from out of town like @reallifeecology and @kevinfitzpatrick.

We really want to get more people involved in identifications and welcoming people to the community too, so we're going to gather for a couple of hours on Friday evening with laptops to add identifications/comments/faves to BioBlitz observations. Anyone is welcome! @loarie will be there.

Friday evening 5-7 PM
2000 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington DC 20006

We've scheduled this not far from the Biodiversity Festival at Constitution Gardens during a bit of a lull but there will be some great evening programming (and beer!) (with @dnlee5!) starting at 7 pm so we won't stay late at Bertucci's (at least I won't).

If you'll be watching the BioBlitz from afar, we'd love your help with identifications, comments, and faves. Keep an eye on the NPS Servicewide project, especially on Friday and Saturday.

Happy iNaturalisting, everyone, BioBlitz or not!

Posted on May 16, 2016 02:06 AM by carrieseltzer carrieseltzer | 5 comments | Leave a comment