“iNaturalist is a place where you can record what you see in nature, meet other nature lovers, and learn about the natural world.”
iNaturalist (http://www.inaturalist.org/) is a smartphone and web-based data gathering program designed to provide an ecological learning and teaching platform for amateur and professional naturalists alike. The world is full of naturalists and many hikers, hunters, birders, and beachcombers record their observations of the environment around them. If the record of observations is comprehensive enough, it may be possible for scientists and land managers to monitor changes in biodiversity, and allow anyone to use the comprehensive record of life to learn more about nature. A comprehensive record of nature is the primary purpose of iNaturalist.
According to its website, iNaturalist began as the Master’s final project of Nate Agrin, Jessica Kline, and Ken-ichi Ueda at the University of California-Berkeley’s School of Information in 2008. Nate and Ken-ichi continued working on the site, along with Sean McGregor, post-graduation. Currently, Ken-ichi Ueda maintains the site in collaboration with Scott Loarie, a climate change researcher at the Carnegie Institution.
A presentation about iNaturalist headlined the most recent meeting of the Lake Erie Allegheny Partnership (LEAP) at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History on November 14. Naturalist Marlo Perdicas, of Metro Parks Serving Summit County, introduced iNaturalist as an innovative tool for data sharing, citizen science, and learning. Perdicas illustrated the potential for iNaturalist as a means to vastly expand natural survey capabilities while fostering a stronger sense of community among iNaturalist users and park staff. She provided examples of how the program is currently utilized in Northeast Ohio, particularly Summit County, and also explored potential for expanded use through an energetic and interactive discussion with the audience.
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