iNaturalist is an global community of naturalists, scientists, and members of the public sharing over a million wildlife sightings to teach one another about the natural world while creating high quality citizen science data for science and conservation. The iNaturalist technology infrastructure and open source software is administered by the California Academy of Sciences as part of their mission to explore, explain, and sustain life on Earth.
The iNaturalist Network is a framework for localizing the iNaturalist community on national scales. Such national focus can help make nature more accessible to the public and can help facilitate the availability of sensitive biodiversity data for regional science and conservation. The Network operates as a series of separate national scale branded gateways of the iNaturalist software locally configured and lead by partner organizations representing their nation. These gateways are connected with shared infrastructure that operates across the network.
The Network therefore allows participating members to (1) help provide a nature citizen science experience localized to their host nation and (2) responsibly make sensitive biodiversity data available for national science and conservation, but (3) without fragmenting the global community and scope of the iNaturalist project.
Currently, the iNaturalist Network consists of five members: the iNaturalist Department of the California Academy of Sciences operating iNaturalist.org from the United States, the Comisión nacional para el conocimiento y uso de la biodiversidad operating NaturaLista in Mexico, the New Zealand Biodiversity Recording Network operating NatureWatchNZ in New Zealand, the Canadian Wildlife Federation and Royal Ontario Museum operating iNaturalist Canada in Canada, and the Instituto Humboldt operating Naturalista in Colombia.
The mission of the Network is to connect people to nature through technology with the specific goals of:
The key values of the Network include:
With the approval of the iNaturalist Network Membership Committee, institutions and organizations can represent their nation by joining the iNaturalist Network. Each member organization must designate an individual to serve as that organizations official representative. These individuals represent their organizations, their national specific branded gateway in the Network, and iNaturalist as a whole. The Network Membership Committee is composed of these representatives with the California Academy of Sciences serving as the institutional coordinator of the Network and manager of Network finances.
The committee will consider organizations for membership that share the Network’s key values and are strategic to its mission. Potential members should be able to demonstrate that their organization:
If your organization is interested in joining the Network, contact us
Community building responsibilities
Data steward responsibilities
Language responsibilities (where applicable)
Flora and fauna responsibilities
The iNaturalist technology platform consists of a web application, an iPhone application, and an Android application which can each be configured as a national branded gateway. While these platforms are all under active development, their current localization capacity is described here. Future development will continue to seek this balance gateway localization with facilitating interoperability across the network.
Site-wide each gateway websites is configured with custom domains such as naturewatch.org.nz or naturalista.conabio.gob.mx, custom logos, languages, home pages, footers and static pages (about, help, etc.).
The network currently consists of over 70,000 participants. The network keeps track of the gateway that participants sign up. Participants ‘belong’ to the gateway through which they signed up meaning the Network Member is responsible for stewarding the participants contact information. Participants dashboards and email updates are localized to their gateway accordingly.
Over 1 million observations have been posted to the Network. Pages for browsing observations are localized to filter observations by the spatial extent of the gateway nation. All observations contributed through a gateway ‘belong’ to that gateway meaning the Network Member is responsible for stewarding the private locations associated observations of sensitive species.
Over 50,000 distinct organisms have been tallied from observations posted through the network. Pages for viewing and searching for organisms are localized to highlight species occurring within the spatial extent of each gateway.
This includes local names, the native/introduced status and conservation status of organisms.
There are over 2,500 specific citizen science projects on the Network. The project overview page and project search is configured to highlight projects from within the gateway’s spatial extent.
The people page and people search is configured to highlight participants belonging to each gateway.
The places page and places search are configured highlight places found within the spatial extent of the gateway.
The guides overview page is configured to highlight guides from within the gateway’s spatial extent.
Because iOS and Android mobile apps must be individually approved by published to the iTunes and Google Play stores, it is impractical to maintain separate mobile apps for each branded gateway. If a Network Member wishes to maintain their own apps they must be responsible for publishing and maintaining their apps.
However, the iNaturalist iOS and Android apps have been localized as follows. When the iNaturalist app is launched on a device, the app checks the country in which the device is registered. If the participant is using the app in one of the Network Member nations, they are prompted to localize their app accordingly. Doing so sets the Network setting on the app which localizes the language and other aspects of the app and identifies data posted through the app as belonging to the specific Network Member.