Another cardinal observation?!? A question of quality and quantity...

So, I've observed fox squirrels 27 times, northern cardinals 24 times, northern mockingbirds 19 times, common dandelions 12 times, and Texas bluebonnets 16 times. Overkill, right? Well, I don't think so. Each one of these adds a point to a growing database of biodiversity!

Quantity over quality then? Should I just document the weird or new things I see? It's true -- I tend to get more excited when I see a brand new plant for me, and I sigh each time I see yet another invasive species like a dandelion... But each of these is a useful observation. With iNaturalist, I think that quantity IS quality -- an observation with some empirical evidence (a photo or a sound) adds a lot of information when added with lots of other observations. We can see the global distribution of fox squirrels (http://www.inaturalist.org/observations?taxon_id=46020) because of all of those single observations. We can watch it through time as well -- how far north or south are they really found? Prove it -- with observations! :)

In my opinion, you SHOULD add the local weeds as observations! You should take pictures of the neighborhood squirrels! Will it take up useful time that you could be adventuring for the unknown critters out there? Possibly... but it does provide (along with lots of other observations) useful information on a species' distribution. And step out to a park or green spot that you've never visited before -- see what kinds of common things are out there too!

What do you think?

P.s. When I worked in the herbarium, I noticed that there were lots of gaps in the distribution of species that everyone KNOWS are out there... This was usually the case with the invasive species... I made it a point to find the counties where some of these invasive plants weren't officially documented with a specimen and collected. It could have been a waste of time, but my little dot added to the map. Well, it sure didn't hurt the plant populations much! :)

Posted by sambiology sambiology, May 27, 2015 02:34

Observations

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Northern Mockingbird Mimus polyglottos

Observer

sambiology

Date

May 23, 2015

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Texas Bluebonnet Lupinus texensis

Observer

sambiology

Date

May 24, 2015 05:02 PM CDT

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Fox Squirrel Sciurus niger

Observer

sambiology

Date

May 26, 2015

Comments

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I'm glad to hear you say this- especially right now when all the "good spots" I usually frequent are flooded! I feel like I should only enter first time observations or really interesting stuff, but I agree with what you say about each observation being useful.

Posted by jblinde about 5 years ago (Flag)
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It's easy to want to record the interesting things—be they rare, or showy, or just a favorite plant or bug. In best practice, you should pick a spot and record everything you can see in that area no matter how small or common—or when you observe something, record everything you can find around it. These associations define communities and multiply the value of each observation.

Posted by dbucket about 5 years ago (Flag)
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I LIKED what you said in this entry.... I had wondered myself about having so many observations of one species....
But for some reason or the other, even though it was a very familiar species, I felt the "need" to document the occasion.
When I joined iNat in Nov 2014, I just entered one observation for species I saw. Then I expanded and duplicated, especially those seen outside my county.
And yes, it bothers me to see Milam and Lee counties missing dots when I know I have seen the plants over several decades.

Posted by connlindajo about 5 years ago (Flag)
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Oh my goodness - thank you for your observation, er.. entry! I was wondering what the protocol was, if any, on how many observations on any one creature or plant was considered prudent! I've also been perusing my photos for the unusual or unique (or just a pic I'm particularly proud of...lol). I love minutia, and the common weeds and creatures. Thank you! I'll pay more attention to the wild things I previously considered mundane :)

Posted by artemis224 about 5 years ago (Flag)

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