Journal archives for May 2015

May 09, 2015

Small gathering of iNatters... Motivation!

Had a GREAT opportunity to jump down to Austin to be out in the field with some expert iNatters on Thursday. It was wonderful to put some faces to screen-names and to meet true experts and passionate people. I snagged so many lifers; I still need to go through all the photos!

Thanks to robberfly, greglasley, cullen, maractwin, ncowey, gcwarbler, and ericisley for an awesome time out in the field. :)

Most of all, I was re-motivated about iNaturalist -- it's such an incredible tool for us naturalists. I can't wait to see what happens as it grows and grows. I foresee wearing out the iNat tshirt that was given to me by robberfly and the fellas from CA.

Observations to come!

P.S. Many of the observations are duplicates from the other iNatters on the trip. I hear this is totally ok to do -- so I shall do it! :)

Posted on May 09, 2015 15:37 by sambiology sambiology | 5 comments | Leave a comment

May 12, 2015

My vision... And how I can achieve it with iNaturalist. :)

"Some people can see with their eyes but have no vision." ~Helen Keller

[When asked about what we can all do] "This world is our world; it is our home. We are all living here together." ~Malala Yousafzai

"I am doing a great work, and I cannot come down." ~Nehemiah

I attended a little Leadership meeting a while back, and there were several presenters that were broadcast (Payton Manning, Seth Godin, Ed Catmull, Rudy Guiliana, Malala Yousafzai), and I got quite a bit to chew on from the messages I heard. This leadership thing was mostly about business and being the head of a company or whatever, but it gave me clarity on what I'm doing and what I'm striving to do.

There were two big questions from one of the presentations:
1. What do I believe is impossible to do in my field... but if it could be done would fundamentally change my business?
2. What breaks your heart?

My answer to the second question is "apathy towards nature" and my answer to the first question is changing the second! With iNaturalist, I truly believe that people will become more interested in nature. It is integrating something that everyone is into (technology and modern gadgets/tools) with our environment and the organisms all around us. The simple question of "what is this?" is asked by everyone when they're outside. If they learn what it is, I think they will start to like it.

I thought a lot about the recent trip that I went on with the other folks that are iNaturalist masters (greglasley, robberfly, cullen, maractwin). I thought about what all they do with iNaturalist and how they have and are impacting others. In my job, I get to lead kiddos around a nature park and get to answer the "what is this?" question a lot. iNaturalist provides me with an even greater reach and impact. Sure -- with each new person that joins and adds observations, it'll mean more time invested in helping them with ID's, but it's worth it! Perhaps they will reciprocate the ID help (as best they can, as I do).

So, I'm going to continue to share iNaturalist with everyone I meet. I hope you do too! Also, don't be scared to help someone with an ID. You don't need to be an expert. "I think it's ____..." is a great way to provide some guidance. It tells that person, "Hey, this is a valid contribution to the database. Neat that you found it! Thanks for contributing!" :)

I'm really passionate about this thing because I believe in it. I believe it can dramatically change an apathetic view of nature. That's pretty meaningful. :)

Posted on May 12, 2015 20:19 by sambiology sambiology | 6 comments | Leave a comment

May 14, 2015

BioBlitz on Saturday... Rain or shine!!!

So, likely rain. But, it should be a nice time to see some fungus and mushrooms around the park!

It'll still go on from 9 - 11 am, and I'll stay out there after lunch too. I'll bring water and snacks (and extra umbrellas).

I do hope that some folks still will show up. It's been a crazy wet spring.

Posted on May 14, 2015 20:59 by sambiology sambiology | 2 comments | Leave a comment

May 21, 2015

Portland... WOW!

So, I just got back from an AMAZING conference (American Trails) in Portland. I sneaked off every now and then to explore some of the parks, and wow. Portland has a LOT of really neat plants and animals! I spotted a lot of lifers -- many of which I don't yet know what they are. :) All I know is that they're new to me! Stay tuned for a pretty big upload of new observations.

Anyways, I didn't get on iNat too too much, so I have quite a few notifications to go through. Sorry I haven't gotten to these sooner -- if you posted a shot from the bioblitz last Saturday, I'll be going through those too!

It's been a great week. :)

Now, time for a nap! (took the day off from work to rest)

Posted on May 21, 2015 15:10 by sambiology sambiology | 2 comments | Leave a comment

May 23, 2015

ID please... A request for help and a reminder to myself to go back!

So, after my trip to Portland, I've found myself hitting on the "ID please" box as I upload many observations...

Well, I do this for a couple reasons -- the intended purpose is to ask anyone else for some guidance on identifying the plant/bug in question. The second reason I do it is to tag it for myself... Sometimes, I'll go back and study the organism a little more -- I'll do a search for "Oregon wildflowers" or something like that and perhaps get some more suggestions on what it is.

Sometimes, I won't take enough photographs or won't get the right angles to make any ID possible... I tend to leave these observations in the "ID please" section... If I ever do go back to that location and see the plant or critter again, I'll try even better to get the angles I missed the first time.

Most importantly, after an observation is ID'ed either by myself or by someone else, I untag that ID please box. This removes the flag for myself and lets me focus on the critters I still need to ID. :)

OH! I do hope that more people would message others on iNat asking for help. I know that when I've received a message asking for some guidance on an observation or two, I definitely check that out and devote some time and energy into providing some guidance to an ID.

Just my two cents and how I use that ID please box!

Posted on May 23, 2015 04:33 by sambiology sambiology | 1 comments | Leave a comment

May 27, 2015

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 on May 27, 2015 02:34 by sambiology sambiology | 3 observations | 4 comments | Leave a comment