Archivos de diario de enero 2018

18 de enero de 2018

Illinois Botanists Big Year 2017 Results

cross-posted from INPS website and slightly edited for iNat audience

The 2nd annual Illinois Botanists Big Year has come to a close. The results are in and the winner is…

cassi saari with 921 taxa*

Most Species/Subspecies Observed

1st: cassi saari (@bouteloua)
2nd: Mark Kluge (@sanguinaria33)
3rd: Erin Faulkner (@elfaulkner)
4th: Sheri Moor (@missgreen)
5th: Vanessa Voelker (@vvoelker)
*all stats are as of January 16th, 2018. Statistics will change slightly as observations are further refined/identified on iNaturalist

Congrats to everyone who helped contribute to a worldwide database of nature observations and those who perhaps found more plants than they ever had before in a single year and place. There were almost 30,000 plant observations contributed by over 1,600 different people. Of those, 18,733 observations were identified to species or below and reached Research Grade. A total of 1,457 species, subspecies, and varieties were identified, representing approximately 40% of the Illinois flora. Huge thank yous to all the people who help identify on iNat; top identifiers of 2017 Illinois plants were @evan8, @bouteloua, @sanguinaria33, @eattaway92, and @mcaple.

Other Winners

-Most Observed Species: Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed), with 260 observations. Congrats, milkweed!
-Longest Streak: Mark Kluge / @sanguinaria33 with...365 days! Amazingly, Mark uploaded at least 1 observation every single day of 2017. Looks like he’s on track to do the same in 2018. Read more about Mark's "365 Days on iNaturalist" here.
-The Sedgehead: cassi saari / @bouteloua, with 42 species in the genus Carex. We’re keeping an eye on @sedge and @vvoelker for 2018...
-The Grassmaster: cassi saari / @bouteloua, with 62 species in the family Poaceae.
-The Singularly Obsessed: @flexfolks, with 61 observations tracking populations of the invasive Lotus corniculatus (birdsfoot trefoil), all at their stewardship site Poplar Creek in northwest Cook County. Many photos with the familiar blue dye...thanks for all your work you do.
-The 100% Naturalist: Jeff Skrentny / @skrentnyjeff, a naturalist who didn’t just observe plants, or just birds, or just reptiles, or just fungi, but a good sampling of them all. There are a ton of ways to think about calculating this, but here is what we had decided on: of the participants who made at least 500 verifiable observations in Illinois in 2017, we calculated the relative percentages of their observations that fell within each of iNaturalist’s “iconic” taxa, i.e. not just documenting plants, but also fungi, fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds, arachnids, insects, mammals, molluscs, other animals, chromista, protozoa, other). We then took the standard deviation of the percentages. The person with the lowest standard deviation has observations well-representative of all the different types of life. Great observations, Jeff! (In case you’re wondering, the person with the highest standard deviation was Chris Benda / @illinoisbotanizer, who only uploaded observations of plants!)

Cypripedium parviflorum var. pubescens by Vanessa Voelker

The most-observed native plants were Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed, 260 observations), Podophyllum peltatum (mayapple, 170), Trillium recurvatum (prairie trillium, 155), Mertensia virginica (Virginia bluebells, 145), and Monarda fistulosa (wild bergamot, 139). The most-observed non-native plants were Lotus corniculatus (birds-foot trefoil, 232 observations), Phalaris arundinacea (reed canarygrass, 131), Rhamnus cathartica (common buckthorn, 117), Phragmites australis (common reed, 105), and Daucus carota (wild carrot, 102).

Hypericum swinkianum by Mark Kluge

Here are a few thoughts from some regional naturalists (emphasis ours):
Derek Ziomber / @dziomber:

“[iNaturalist] has the potential to be a great tool to encourage new people to explore the natural world more and hopefully learn something along the way, but more importantly to foster a sense of respect and responsibility for the natural world and its other inhabitants….iNat provides a way to keep your ID skills sharp and a means to travel to new landscapes and learn about plants that you might not otherwise ever see. Sure, you can always do the same by looking through books or websites, but those lack the interactive aspects and sense of community that iNat has. Books and websites are still invaluable to me, but the added benefits of iNat have made it a fun tool in my quest to understand the natural world.”

Vanessa Voelker / @vvoelker:

“One of the things I've appreciated most about the Big Year specifically, and iNaturalist in general, is that it's become a great resource for learning vegetative and early life stage characters. A few of us went on a journey of discovery this year with Polymnia canadensis, which has early growth leaves that look confusingly similar to several other species, and not terribly similar to most field guide photos of the plant at maturity.”

Erin Faulkner / @elfaulkner:

“While I’m sure I’ve tested the patience of many a hiking buddy with my frequent data-recording stops, I like the idea that I’m contributing to a growing body of scientific knowledge. My favorite part is expanding the range maps for different species, and the particular thrill of adding a species found outside its normal range or being the lone state record. The Illinois Botanists Big Year has lent focus to the madness and has pushed me to get off the couch and visit a wider range of Illinois’s preserves and ecosystems than I ever have before.”

Bartonia virginica by Erin Faulkner

Iza Redlinski / @marshmaiden:

“I had a resolution in 2017 to hone some of my woodland as well as sand species plant identification. It proved to be a good way to document what I saw at a given site and to take pictures of some of my lifers...the map also allowed me to pinpoint where some of the invasive problems were (I could upload the data later on and overlay it on a Google map). I enjoyed seeing how various species bloom at different times in different locations and thinking why that would be.”

Mark Kluge / @sanguinaria33:

“When I was nudged into joining iNaturalist in 2014, I had little idea that I was getting into one of the most significant citizen science projects ever conceived. Yes, it’s fun to crunch statistics, but iNat also makes it simple to look at your observations and say, hey I need to pay more attention to Dichanthelium, or hill prairies, or Helianthus, or wetlands, or whatever. IBBY 2017 was a prime vehicle for me to achieve a different goal, which was making at least one observation every day of the year. That was a great way to really work on plant phenology, as well as to keep active on those days you would much rather be on the couch! Some favorite observations were something I found while looking for something else, observing the plant that was the type collection for a recently described species, and enduring 25 ticks to track down a nice orchid population.”

Mackenzie Caple / @mcaple:

"Even though I don't have as much opportunity as I'd like to go out and add my own observations, IDing other people's observations has been a great way to keep sharp on plants I know, as well as learning how to ID new ones-- all while contributing to science. The crowdsourcing aspect is especially fun and helpful!"

Nabalus crepidineus by cassi saari

Want to participate in 2018? It’s easy. Simply add your observations at or use the iPhone/Android app. You can also help the community by identifying plants on iNaturalist. Here is the new Illinois Botanists Big Year homepage. Bookmark it!

Contact cassi here on iNat or via email at with ideas, questions, or comments.

Previously...Illinois Botanists Big Year 2016 Results

other folks who observe or ID plants in Illinois who many find the stats/info above interesting:
@coreyjlange @psweet @mn2010 @rgraveolens @hikebikerun13 @outdoorsie @randomrover88 @hannawacker @kennedy9094 @nicothoe @janebaldwin @jhowell @cjosefson @dsuarez @catalpa_joe @jackassgardener @wildernessbarbie @charles18 @mjadams @akstone @scottmohan @tonyg @michael_morin @tamandua2 @nfurlan @aaroncarlson @rcurtis @bugman1388 @wdvanhem @dziomber @choess @eknuth @krallen @jeremyhussell @thebals @tanyuu @thisnatureblog @gwynethgovers

Publicado el enero 18, 2018 07:06 TARDE por bouteloua bouteloua | 7 comentarios | Deja un comentario

25 de enero de 2018

A Few Answers to John Ascher's Questions

As listed at @johnascher

"1) Why is no effort made to encourage proper citation of localities in the proper sequence country: state: county: location?"
What is John referring to here? Possibly he is referring to the Establishment Means tab on taxon pages, where a county may be listed out of context, e.g. just "Colusa" when it should say "Colusa County, CA, USA." I agree that's frustrating/annoying. Is there somewhere else that this occurs? We should submit a feature request to fix this and other instances.

"2) Why is it acceptable for contributors to submit uncropped images?"
Cropping an image removes the context of the observation. I greatly enjoy being able to see the bigger picture of an ecosystem and not just the individual organism. Helpfully, we can zoom in to view the creature up close without need for cropping. It can definitely be a bit of a game of "Where's Waldo" sometimes, but that's all part of the fun.

I would also urge people to take more context photos to show the organism in relation to its associate species as well as more "ugly" photos of entire life cycles rather than just glamour shots of flowers in peak bloom, for example. Of course taxon page default photos are ideally close up and/or highlight characteristic features but there's no need to frass middling or low quality photos. iNaturalist serves as a nature journal for most people. To support removal of low-quality photos would be like going into someone's house and ripping pages out of their personal journal. One thing that is helpful, John, is to "favorite" observations with high quality photos. That way they appear higher in the list of photos when viewing all photos from the taxon page.

Not everyone can afford high quality camera equipment with the ability to take macro shots of moving insects. Not everyone has photo-editing software or skills. Be mindful of the variety of people on iNaturalist: we come from different socio-economic and educational backgrounds with varying levels of experience and skill. Encourage people with helpful tips and tricks. Don't berate them.

"3) Why are records not validated by an expert considered Research Grade?"
Because semantics. Neither the wording nor system are perfect. But having a photo or audio file, >2/3 majority vote on an identification, date, GPS location, etc. seems like a decent start to me to begin whittling down to what one might consider a "quality" observation. What are John's recommendations? Who is an expert?

"4) Why no taxon pages for some of the most obvious, widely-known, and well-accepted monophyletic groups generally recognized by the public such as bees (=clade Anthophila)?"
Technically it looks like Anthophila is rankless. iNaturalist doesn't currently have a system to position rankless groups together -- you have to select an established rank. I cheated and created Anthophila, but it must be categorized as an "epifamily" in order to place it correctly within the taxonomy. Calling it "epifamily," to my limited knowledge of bees (see #7 below) and after browsing this paper quickly, may be wrong, but the only way to do it in the current system on iNat.

Is there another group John is referencing in this question?

"5) Why is it acceptable for contributors to submit images with no organism or no detectable organism as an identification request? This practice sure does waste our time."
What is John's solution? It's certainly not an encouraged activity given that it violates the basic tenants of what an "observation" is, and there are plenty of data quality tools to deal with these swiftly. Feel free to use some of the canned responses to these types of observations in order to encourage new users to use iNat correctly:

"6) Why must all images be retained even if they add no value to the site as determined by a qualified expert?"
See #2 and #3.

"7) Why can't non-experts take the time to identify the most obvious species such as the Western Honey Bee?"
There it is, the dreaded "it's obvious." Speaking for myself, as primarily a plant person, I know there are several species of Apis, that there are tens of thousands of other species of bees, and that many hymenopterans and other insects are lookalikes/mimics. Get it wrong once and if insects aren't your current focus, you're probably likely to be much more tentative about your IDs in the future.

"8) Why is it acceptable to cite subgenera with no indication of the genus in question? This unprofessional practice is particularly unfortunate if the goal is reliable communication with non-experts."
A documented annoyance. Please contribute thoughts here:

"9) I understand that not all contributors wish to share their precise location, but can't they at very least note the country in question? If that must be secret why post anything to the internet?"
A documented annoyance. Please contribute thoughts here:

Yes, iNaturalist is a public website, but again, it's also a nature journal. Which easy-to-use software geared toward both beginners and experts does John recommend for people to download to their computers that has the same features available on iNaturalist?

Publicado el enero 25, 2018 11:20 TARDE por bouteloua bouteloua | 61 comentarios | Deja un comentario