Archivos de diario de diciembre 2016

31 de diciembre de 2016

Pushing Performance - a reflection on 2016

I started the year with a little challenge to myself based upon looking at a number of other iNaturalist users; make one observation for everyday of January. It wasn't easy, but it was rewarding as it caused me to see things I don't usually look for since in an average workday the "natural" space I may have a chance to interact with is very low.
I wasn't able to keep the pace for the entire year, but as the year finishes out, I've some how compiled 7,000+ observations!

The challenge pushed me to be more curious about what was right around me, so I started a project on just the apartment complex I manage to see how many organisms I and maybe some of my tenants could document on this little slice of urbania.
This project got me at some level to recognize the potential humans have to transform their own living areas/ecosystems as through this project I documented a fungal parasite (Entomophthora muscae) that I intentionally brought home a year previously and saw it emerge time and time again.

I also sped down the slippery slope of aided observations using clip on macro lenses for my cell phone, Foldscopes, and all sorts of other microscopes, which did nothing but get me excited to no ends about all that can be found even in an urban landscape. I attempted to share that fascination with others by hosting workshops and Bioblitzs focused on the use of these tools
Here are the tools for learning to use a cell phone macro lens:
and here are some notes from one our our Bioblitzes using Foldscopes:

The scientific value of iNaturalist became more and more apparent to me as the platform became not only a place for me to learn by documenting, but also a place researchers could find things I had seen and ask for them. One of my favorite interactions in this realm for the year was hunting down various forms of Laboulbeniaceae and sending them off to Harvard for @dhaelewa. An entire class of fungi I hadn't even been aware of!
I started using a tag "collaborationDT" so I could easily find these instances of observations that became useful for someones research.

The social value of iNaturalist also became more apparent to me as I found myself on trips with people I met through iNaturalist and even one fateful afternoon I was identifying mushrooms on iNaturalist and realized @catchang and @robberfly were out exploring nearby in the East Bay Hills in real time and was able to message them and go join in the adventure.
and on another occasion I was invited out to Mineral King to help researcher with a survey for mycoviruses which ended up being an epic backpacking trip

The educational potential of iNaturalist also became more apparent as @leptonia and I used it as part of a 1 week high school course in fungi with @lgottlieb where students surveyed a local watershed and did sequencing of fungi they found.
I'm looking forward to seeing the next version of this in 2017 building upon the last years lessons learned.

Partly inspired from the Marin Academy course as it gets me thinking what makes a good fungal observation I've started in the background to gear up for what I hope to launch in 2017 and call "Barcoding the Lake" which will be an attempt to make observations, collections of, and DNA Barcode organisms from Lake Merritt in Oakland, California. I've started a collection of all of the fungi that have come up this year, with relatively good images for the observations, spore prints and when time permits I'll get to imaging the microscopic features and ultimately DNA sequencing ITS for all of them.
After fungi I hope to move into the water and start with the mollusks, pollychaetes and eventually all of the other wonderful organisms I've been photographing there: I find the prospect of sequencing a bunch of organisms that have already been sequenced really exciting, because science is a process of repetition and for a lot of these organisms these conserved regions have only been sequenced a handful of times at best, so to get more looks at all of them on this level will hopefully be useful. Repetition is the "boring" part of science, but its what really makes it solid. Its the confirming that past experiments or observations holds true that tethers knowledge to something enduring.

I'm looking forward to all that 2017 has in store!

Ingresado el 31 de diciembre de 2016 por damontighe damontighe | 8 comentarios | Deja un comentario