Journal archives for December 2014

December 03, 2014

Why I'm crazy about iNaturalist...

So, I love iNaturalist.

Growing up, I loved to look through field guides... These weren't just field guides of critters around my home, but these were field guides of "birds of Australia" or "mammals of Africa!" I loved to imagine going to these places and finding these organisms. I'd also look harder for different kinds of plants and animals around me where ever I went. It inspired me to explore outside more and more. I even learned a few of the names of things too -- it was great!

iNaturalist is giving me that same sort of fix. I'm actively out looking for different organisms, uploading them to this network of naturalists, looking through other folks' observations, and learning TONS in the process.

It also feels good to be part of something "bigger than myself." I think that every observation adds a bit of data, even if it's just a simple point of species distribution to a 'common' species, and that adds something to the bigger picture. It feels great to be part of that.

So, I'm going to be adding a lot of my older photographs and observations to add more to this growing global database. I encourage other people to do the same. Look through those old photo albums on your desktop -- what sorts of animals/plants did you photograph? iNaturalist is the best way to share these photos and add data to that huge question of "what's out there?" Maybe someone is researching the distribution of some species and our little bit of data helps in that quest of knowledge.

And who knows... maybe there's some kid out there that loves to look through field guides too. He/she may look through your observations and imagine looking for and finding the critters and plants that you post. Potentially life-changing!

A special thanks to those that verify other identifications. I try my best to do that for others. I'm far from perfect on my identifications (I've already mis-ID'ed a bunch!), but hopefully I can give others a bit of guidance to go and either accept the identification or dig deeper to find out what it is! Hopefully I'm helping out a few people out there.

I'm so happy that this network exists. I hope it grows and grows! Thanks to all involved with iNaturalist. Keep it up! :)

Posted on December 03, 2014 22:17 by sambiology sambiology | 29 comments | Leave a comment

December 08, 2014

Herbaria and plant collecting... Importance of field images!

I'm fixin' to upload several of my plant collections!

I worked for a phenomenal organization, BRIT (Botanical Research Institute of Texas), and I was quite lucky to go out and collect herbarium specimens and add to their already existing 1 million dried plant specimens. I learned so much about plants as I was out collecting and then back at the herbarium filing said collections! Well, as you collect a plant specimen, colors fade after some years and many times, the plant is too large to fit on a single page of herbarium paper... This is why field images are a great addition to physical collections.

As I upload these field images, I will put the specimen name/number in the description. Duplicate specimens have the same name/number.

You can learn more about plant collecting here:
http://royalbotanicgarden.org/page/how-collect-plants

A few additions to plant collecting -- I always made sure that it was a sustainable population of plants! Fortunately, I didn't collect anything extraordinarily rare. Also, I had special permits to collect at many of these locations. David Riskind of Texas Parks and Wildlife gave special permission to BRIT to collect in specific Texas State Parks. I collected duplicates of all specimens to send to the herbaria at New York (NY) and University of Texas (TEX).

You'll see that many of my collections are of common and some non-native, invasive plants. As noted in the last journal entry, every single little observation/collection adds a data point to the growing spreadsheet of knowledge. :)

Please let me know if you have questions on plant collecting! It's a great way to learn the names! :)

Posted on December 08, 2014 19:30 by sambiology sambiology | 3 comments | Leave a comment