iNaturalist: Gotta Catch ’em All!

So here’s my next favorite Pokemon Go alternative: iNaturalist!

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iNaturalist is a citizen science project and online social network of naturalists, citizen scientists, and biologists built on the concept of mapping and sharing observations of biodiversity across the globe.

With eBird, you can catch all the birds, but with iNaturalist, you can go after any and all natural life, from mammals to insects to plants to amphibians, even fungal life! So, while the birds tend to always be the first to grab my eye, there’s so much more to in this biodiverse wonderland to discover, identify and learn about and iNaturalist is a great way to take it all on.

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Gotta catch ’em all!

iNaturalist is a “crowdsourcing scientific observation platform” that is super in assisting you in identification of whatever life-form you’re aiming at, all it requires is a decent photo which you upload to the iNaturalist app and sometimes, from just the photo and the magic of technology, it can identify the flora or fauna for you! Or at least narrow it down to family. From there, you can find help from the iNaturalists social community, including citizen scientists and biologists who can help identify your species in question or verify your proposed identification helping raise your sighting to “Research Grade”, meaning that the the species ID has been agreed upon and confirmed.

By contributing your sightings and photos to iNaturalist, you’re adding to a constantly growing database of flora and fauna that can actually contribute to scientific and biological studies not to mention help map out the current range and distribution of species as more and more iNaturalist users contribute their observations.

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What’s neat about the mapping function is checking out what’s nearby, what other people have seen and you might find yourself searching out a fungus or a tiny flower in a place you’ve always visited that you never took into account until you saw someone’s photo of it on iNaturalist. It really is going to open your world, if you let it!

To date, more than 15 million observations have been uploaded worldwide, making for an ever-more complete documentation of the biodiversity that makes up Planet Earth. As more and more people join and (like me) become addicted, we’re achieving something beautiful and probably more important than we yet can determine.

So join me and together let’s take on the challenge and see if we can..cause ya gotta catch ’em all!

About Stacey M. Hollis

Tropical guide and naturalist at Tranquilo Bay Eco-Adventure Lodge on Isla Bastimentos set within Panama's Caribbean Bocas del Toro archipelago. My aim is to share my passion for birds and the awesome biodiversity of the tropics while spreading the word about the importance of environmental conservation.
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