Päiväkirja-arkisto kohteelle helmikuu 2022

helmikuu 2, 2022

New England Plant ID-a-thon, Feb. 25-27, 2022

If you're interested in plants in New England, or just want to learn how to make IDs on iNaturalist, this project is for you! Come join the project at https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/new-england-plants-id-a-thon-feb-25-27-2022

If you've never joined a project before, look for the Join button towards the top right of the page I just linked to. Click that, answer a couple of questions from iNat (the answers don't matter for this project), and you're in! You definitely don't need to be an expert to make IDs on iNat (I'm not), but if you can identify Queen Anne's Lace or Pickerelweed or Striped Maple or Oriental Bittersweet or other common plants like that, you can help out. Making IDs on other people's observations on iNat is an important part of the process towards getting more people involved with the natural world, plus you'll learn a lot.

And what else are you planning for a late February weekend during a pandemic, anyway?

Any questions, feel free to ask!

Julkaistu helmikuu 2, 2022 05:52 IP. käyttäjältä lynnharper lynnharper | 1 kommentti | Jätä kommentti

helmikuu 4, 2022

Why Should You Make IDs?

In this journal post, I want to give you some reasons why you should make some IDs on other people’s observations, not just make observations of your own. However, please don’t interpret this as a passive-aggressive way to make you feel guilty if you don’t make IDs, because, really, life is hard enough right now without unnecessary guilt. (Necessary guilt is when you step on a Goodyera plant because you weren’t watching your step.)

Reason #1: You’ll learn stuff. You’ll learn what makes a good set of photos to ID. You’ll learn there are three taxa of Reynoutria in New England (it took me a while to learn that one). You’ll finally straighten out the leaf characters in Pyrola (maybe; I'm not there yet). You’ll find some cool places to go visit, once winter is over. You might take a stab at learning Cyperus or Plantago or Platanthera.

Reason #2: You’ll help educate the public about the natural world. So many iNaturalists, particularly students who are told they have to use iNat in a biology class, know very little about plants. They don’t know the difference between wild and cultivated plants. They don’t know which plants are native or exotic or invasive. They don’t know what characters to photograph to make an identifiable observation of an oak or a fern or a St. John’s-wort. Even good naturalists – even professional botanists with decades of experience in New England! – don’t know every single plant. If you can help open someone’s eyes to the botanical diversity around them, that’s a win for them and for the preservation of nature. Posting observations to iNat is fun, but getting feedback from an identifier is even more fun and deepens the observers’ connections to the natural world.

Reason #3: You’ll join a rather select group, because not everyone on iNaturalist is an identifier. In fact, probably there are too few identifiers on iNat (except for birds, perhaps). Here’s a quote from the iNaturalist blog from May of 2020 (https://www.inaturalist.org/blog/35758-we-ve-reached-1-000-000-observers):

“To put in perspective what a small fraction of the iNaturalist community of identifiers is, the graph below [you’ll have to go to the blog for this] shows all 2,500,000 iNaturalist users where each circle below represents 1,000 iNaturalist users. 51% of users have posted an observation (blue and yellow), but only 4% have made identifications for other people (yellow and pink). Nonetheless, these 107,000 identifiers have generated 53 million identifications for other people compared with 43 million observations generated by 1,265,000 observers…”

And from the iNat forum on Jan. 22, 2022, from user graysquirrel (https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/identification-etiquette-on-inaturalist-wiki/1503/165?u=lynnharper):

“At the moment, iNaturalist has 2,000,000 accounts who have posted observations. We’re closing in on 90,000,000 individual observations. Of those… guess how many people have posted identifications? 232,000. And that’s ANY identifications.

The top 50 identifiers on the site have, between us, published 16,000,000 identifications. That’s an average of 320,000 per person. Almost 20% of all observations published get identified by one of the top 50. And 60% of all observations get identified by someone in the top 500. …

Now, of those nearly 90m observations, only 54m are research grade. There are 34m that still need an ID of some kind. Of those 34m, 12m are at species level already, meaning they only need a confirming ID (if the given one is correct). The rest will all require a minimum of 2 IDs to get to research grade, and only if they happen to be spotted by people who know exactly what they are. Most likely they will need 3 or 4 IDs applied to send them into the right subcategories where the appropriate experts will see them.
So say it averages out to 3 IDs needed for each of those, that’s 102 MILLION identifications needed… done mostly by 500 unpaid volunteers.”

In some sense, the whole iNat system rests on the shoulders of the identifiers.

Reason #4: What else are you doing in February in a pandemic, anyway?

Julkaistu helmikuu 4, 2022 04:18 IP. käyttäjältä lynnharper lynnharper | 4 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti

helmikuu 11, 2022

How I Make Identifications

In this post, I’m going to go through how I make IDs on iNaturalist step-by-step. This is going to be long, I’m afraid. (Really, really long, now that I see how much I wrote. Sorry about that.) This information is really targeted at iNat users who have never made an ID on someone else’s observation and are deathly afraid they’re going to screw it up. You might make a mistake, but so what? I make mistakes, all humans make mistakes, and perfect beings aren’t allowed to join this project anyway. You’re not going to break iNaturalist no matter what.

This is not plant-specific identification information; it’s about the general process of making IDs. I’ll make another post about IDing plants (to the extent I can) later on.

First tip: not every observation can be identified down to species, even by experts. If you come across an observation where the photo is too blurry, or the observer didn’t include the necessary photos, or you haven’t a clue what it is, just ignore that observation and move on to another one.

Second tip: Don’t be afraid to ask other people for their help. Make a comment on these journal posts, or send me a private message, or mention me or other iNatters in a comment on an observation. You can send a private message to me by going to my profile (https://www.inaturalist.org/people/1371047) and clicking on the Message button just to the right of my name at the top. To mention me or other people in a comment, add the symbol @ to the front of the person’s iNat username.

Third tip: Filter, filter, filter. If you just look at the observations as they get posted, even if you’ve filtered for plants that need IDs, you’ll be overwhelmed by all the fuzzy photos of distant tiny plants, or by the photos that show everything about a plant except the one feature that would make identification a cinch. So, filter. Filter by species you know well, for example. If that returns way more observations than you think you can deal with, filter for the month the plant is in bloom. In other words, get down to a pile of observations you can actually make progress on.

OK, here’s my step-by-step process.

  1. I happen to use the Explore tab to make IDs, but many (most?) people use the Identify tab. Try both and see which you prefer; they are pretty similar when you get into the details.
  2. In this example, I’m going to filter for a particular species in a particular place, and for observations that needs IDs. To start, go to the iNat overall Explore page on the website: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations. This will show you all Verifiable observations, whether they need IDs or not. (Non-Verifiable observations have no photo or sound, or are marked as cultivated or captive organisms, or a few other such situations.)
  3. See the gray Filter button towards the upper right? Click on that and a menu opens up. To show only observations that need IDs, check the Needs ID box on the left side. Notice that you can also specify if you want to see only plants or birds, or only observations from a particular day or month, or observations from a particular person (under More Filters), etc. It’s worth exploring this Filter menu in detail at some point.
  4. I’m going to filter for only plants and only Needs ID observations, like this: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=any&quality_grade=needs_id&iconic_taxa=Plantae. Click on Update Filter in the menu to apply the filters.
  5. Once you’ve applied the filter, you’ll be back at the Explore tab, but you’ll only be seeing plants that need IDs. To filter for New England, type New England into the Location box just to the left of the Filter button and wait for iNat to give you a drop-down menu with a few options for New England. Click on the correct one and you’ll end up here: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=52339&quality_grade=needs_id&iconic_taxa=Plantae
  6. I like seeing the Grid version of these observations, rather than the Map or List views. On the left-hand side of the page, there are three buttons directly under the words New England: Map/Grid/List. Click on Grid. The Grid view gives you thumbnails of the photos that are large enough to see most of what the photo shows. The default order of these observations is most recently added first (but you can change that in the Filter menu, if you like).
  7. Let’s say the first observation is of an easy plant, like Marsh Marigold. Right-click on the observation in the Explore tab and open it in a new window. (In fact, if your internet is slow like mine, open several observations, each in their own window, so the photos can load while you’re working.) In that new window, you’ll see the individual Marsh Marigold observation. Take a moment to scroll all the way to the bottom of this window, so you can see everything that’s there, but the most important parts are at the top.
  8. Let’s assume the observer took a great photo of Marsh Marigold and, in fact, identified it as Marsh Marigold. You agree with that ID, so you click on the Agree button in the Activity box under the photo. Bingo, you’ve made an identification – congratulations! Hang on for a moment while iNat process your agreement and you’ll see various items on the observation window change and update. Now the observation is Research Grade, for example.
  9. Now go on to the next observation and repeat until you’re done. As I write this, there are 598,123 observations of plants in New England that need IDs, so it might be a while before you’re done. (And this is why I started this project!)

Those steps are the basics of how to make IDs. If you try it and you’re still confused, you are not stupid; it just means I wasn’t clear enough with my directions. Please feel free to ask questions.

Now, let’s get into some slightly more complicated parts of making IDs.

  1. iNaturalist is primarily for wild organisms, not garden plants or pets and the like. If you come across an observation of a garden plant – for example, a dahlia – mark the observation “No” in the “Organism is wild” part of the Data Quality Assessment, towards the bottom of the window for that observation. This will turn the observation to Casual. It’s considered polite to give the observer an ID, though, if you can, but don’t feel as though you need to get it down to species, especially because many common garden plants are hybrids.
  2. An observation is supposed to be of one organism. Sometimes, observers will include photos of several completely different species in one observation. Here, what you need to do is make a comment asking the observer to split up the observation. This is the language I use in these situations: “Hi! Your observation includes photos of multiple species. In iNaturalist, each observation should show one species. Could you split them up, so each species is its own observation? Here’s a tutorial showing how to do this: https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/how-to-fix-your-observation-with-photos-of-multiple-species/15096 Thanks!” If I come across this kind of observation where I or another identifier has asked the observer to split up the photos at least a month ago, go ahead and give it the best ID you can (which might be only Dicots or Vascular Plants or Life) and check the box for “No, it’s as good as it can be” in the Data Quality Assessment checklist.
  3. Sometimes the observer is just plain wrong in their ID. They called something Sensitive Fern and it’s clearly Sweet-Fern (not that I’ve ever done that, mind you). In that case, click the tab for “Suggest an Identification” next to your username in the Activity boxes below the photo, and type in Sweet-Fern. Wait for iNat to give you the Sweet-Fern option, click on that, and then click the Done button below the boxes. iNat will change the ID to the taxon that includes both Sensitive Fern and Sweet-Fern. Two more identifiers will have to come along and agree with your Sweet-Fern ID for iNat to declare the observation to be Research Grade Sweet-Fern. Or the observer can withdraw their Sensitive Fern ID and agree with your ID (which will be enough to turn it Research Grade) or just wait to see what other observers think.
  4. Sometimes, you can’t bring an observation all the way to species, but you can narrow it down considerably. For example, if someone IDs a photo as Dicots, you might be able to say it’s clearly a Cornus, but you can’t ID it any farther. In that case, add an ID as Cornus and click Done. If you feel like it, you could include a comment of something to the effect of “photos of the fruit or buds (or whatever) would help narrow this to species,” which will help the observer to take useful photos the next time they find that species.
  5. As you make IDs, keep an eye on your notifications on iNat, in case an observer has a question or wants to say thank you, or another identifier agrees/disagrees with your IDs, and so on. Also, identifiers might mention you in a comment, because they think you might be able to help with an ID or that you might be particularly interested in an observation of that species.

One easy way to get started making identifications is to agree with other identifiers’ IDs. For example, you could filter for all observations – not just Needs ID observations – of a particular species and go through them, clicking the Agree button whenever you think it’s appropriate. This is also an excellent way to train your eye to pick up on characters that differentiate similar species.

Finally, here are links to what iNat has to say about making identifications:



Again, please ask questions! Being an identifier on iNaturalist is an extremely important part of building observers’ awareness of and appreciation for the natural world. And thanks for whatever you’re able to do!

Julkaistu helmikuu 11, 2022 02:47 IP. käyttäjältä lynnharper lynnharper | 6 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti

helmikuu 18, 2022

Online Resources for Plant Identification

It’s only a week till the New England Plant ID-a-thon begins, so I thought it would be a good idea to tell you about some of the online resources you can use to help you identify a plant. I’m sure many of you know more such resources than I do, so please add them into the comments. Books – real, actual on-paper books – are even better, in my opinion, but the taxonomy can quickly go out of date, just to warn you.

Go Botany: https://gobotany.nativeplanttrust.org/
Of course, Go Botany is, in my opinion, the go-to resource for plant IDs in New England. There are usually several photos for each species, plus the sidebars on similar species give very helpful characters for distinguishing among look-alike plants.

iNaturalist taxa pages: https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa
Each species in the iNaturalist database has a taxon page, with photos from iNat observations, a map of observations, and sections with general information, taxonomy, conservation status, and similar species. The similar species section can be particularly helpful in alerting an identifier to common mistakes. For example, under similar species for Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides), the first suggestion is Early Blue Cohosh (C. giganteum), not surprisingly.

Pat Swain alerted me to this handy summary of the differences among the spruce species we usually see in the wild in New England.

Natural Heritage Programs:
The Maine and Massachusetts Natural Heritage programs in New England have produced descriptive species summaries for the plants listed in those states. Often these fact sheets describe how to tell the rare plant from its commoner congeners, so the fact sheets can be quite useful that way. Here are the links to the lists of those fact sheets.

Maine – https://www.maine.gov/dacf/mnap/features/rare_plants/plantlist.htm
Massachusetts – https://www.mass.gov/info-details/list-of-endangered-threatened-and-special-concern-species#plants

All of the Massachusetts fact sheets discuss similar species and how to distinguish them/ Here are links to a few of the Massachusetts fact sheets that may prove useful, just to get you started:

Agrimonies: https://www.mass.gov/doc/small-flowered-agrimony/download

Asclepias (milkweeds): https://www.mass.gov/doc/purple-milkweed/download

Carex: There are 30 Carex species currently listed under the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act, and the online fact sheet for each one discusses identifying the rare species from its commoner relatives. Here’s a link to Gray’s Sedge as an example, because I often see people on iNaturalist labeling C. intumescens as C. grayi and this fact sheet has great photos to help in ID: https://www.mass.gov/doc/grays-sedge/download

Huperzia (fir-mosses): https://www.mass.gov/doc/appalachian-firmoss/download

Rhododendron: Many of the evergreen rhododendron observation on iNaturalist are of garden hybrids or varieties, and sometimes those are identified as Great Rhododendron, R. maximum. Great Rhododendron is state-listed in Massachusetts, this fact sheet may be helpful in distinguishing that species from garden plants: https://www.mass.gov/doc/great-laurel/download

Sanicula (sanicles): https://www.mass.gov/doc/clustered-sanicle/download

Julkaistu helmikuu 18, 2022 03:26 IP. käyttäjältä lynnharper lynnharper | 2 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti

helmikuu 23, 2022

Almost That Time!

It is 48 hours before the start of this identification marathon at 7 PM this Friday and I wanted to check in with you all. All 28 of us! It is wonderful so many people are willing to help out with this project – I hope you all have fun doing this.

So, are you all set? Are you excited? Are there enough snacks in the house? Are all the field guides piled near to hand? Maybe you should do the weekend chores and errands now? Especially because much (all?) of New England is supposed to get heavy snow on Friday?

Last weekend, I kept track of how the pile of Needs ID plant observations changed over the equivalent 48-hour period: the number of plant observation stuck at the species level was 273,916 to begin with, and 273,359 at the end, a decrease of 557 observations. Of course, more observations were being posted that weekend as well – I didn’t track those – so somewhat more than, say, 600 plant observations were IDed to Research Grade or Casual over the weekend. I bet we can do a lot more than 600 plant IDs this coming weekend. What’s your guess as to how the numbers will change with our efforts? Make a comment below with your guess! My guess is 1% of the observations at species level, or around 2,700. I’m aiming high!

Right at 7 PM on Friday, I’ll post the current numbers of plant observations in New England that need IDs as well as the subset of those that are at the species level. I’ll also give you the link to all the observations at species level, because that’s our focus for this marathon, but feel free to ID any plant observation. I’ll also post links to certain species that I think will be easy to clean up, so to speak.

If any of you have questions, let me know – leave a comment below or send me a private message.

Julkaistu helmikuu 23, 2022 11:33 IP. käyttäjältä lynnharper lynnharper | 1 kommentti | Jätä kommentti

helmikuu 25, 2022

Ready, Set, Identify!

Here we go! A little before 7 PM on Friday, February 25, there are 271,844 observations of plants in New England that are currently at the species level and still need confirmation by an identifier. Overall, there are 589,935 New England plant observations that need IDs.

Here’s the link to the group of plant observations we’re focusing on this weekend, the ones already at species level: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?hrank=species&iconic_taxa=Plantae&lrank=species&place_id=52339&quality_grade=needs_id

A couple of reminders: Take a break now and then. Only add observations to this project if they are beautiful photos or if you want help IDing them. Remember to mark cultivated plants as not wild. Feel free to comment on this post or any others I make in the next 48 hours if you have questions. Remember you don’t have to ID every observation you glance at; if it’s not easy for you to ID, skip it and move on to another observation.

How to begin: If everyone just starts at the beginning of the link above, we’ll be tripping over each other digitally, so to speak, all IDing the same observations. So you might want to filter for a particular place, a particular time (May, anyone? I could use May right now), or a particular species. I find filtering for a particular species very efficient for making IDs quickly. If you want to “claim” a species to work on, at least to begin with, make a comment below to that effect. And if someone knows Northern Red Oak really well, that's the species with the most observations that need confirmation - 3,165, yikes!

Have fun!

Julkaistu helmikuu 25, 2022 11:50 IP. käyttäjältä lynnharper lynnharper | 10 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti

helmikuu 26, 2022

Twelve Hours In

And the pile of species-level New England plant observations that Needs IDs is down by 880 - great job, all you night owls! We are off to a great start!

Julkaistu helmikuu 26, 2022 12:07 IP. käyttäjältä lynnharper lynnharper | 8 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti

The Half-way Point

How’s everyone doing? Still having fun – or beginning to be a little bleary-eyed (like me)?

We are doing great, by the way. For perspective, last weekend, during the same span of time, the total number of New England plant observations needing an ID dropped by 916 and the number of species-level observations needing IDs dropped by 557. This doesn’t take into account plant observations that were added during that time – there’s no good way to measure that – but it does give us an idea of the “usual” level of plant identifying that happens at this time of year.

In contrast, in the first 24 hours of this ID-a-thon, the total number dropped by 4,528 and the number of species-level observations dropped by 3,529. In other words: WOW! You all are doing great work! More than six times the “usual” level of species-level IDs in half the time!!

I’d also like to say welcome to the members of the New England Botanical Society that have just joined us! If you joined iNaturalist for this project, you’re likely to be a little confused by all of this. It’s not you, I promise; iNaturalist has a bit of a learning curve. Go poke around in the Getting Started section of the website: https://www.inaturalist.org/pages/getting%252Bstarted . Wander around in the Explore tab. Read the journal posts for this project. Feel free to ask questions – I certainly did when I started using iNat.

If you’re getting bored with how you’re tackling the Needs ID pile, think about looking at the unverified observations from other project members.

Also, a few observations have been added to this project, here: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?project_id=126303&place_id=any&verifiable=any&captive=any. If you can help out with IDs on any that aren’t already at Research Grade, please chime in.

Thanks, everyone!

Julkaistu helmikuu 26, 2022 11:59 IP. käyttäjältä lynnharper lynnharper | 0 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti

helmikuu 27, 2022

Sunday Morning

You all were busy overnight - the total number of New England plant observations needing IDs stands at 582,637, a decrease of 7,298 from Friday at 7 PM. At the species level, the number of Needs ID observations is currently 265,789, down an astonishing 6,055 from Friday. Wow, wow, wow! Beyond my wildest dreams!

Julkaistu helmikuu 27, 2022 12:05 IP. käyttäjältä lynnharper lynnharper | 5 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti

Dare I say....

That at 4:30 Sunday we have reduced the species-level observations by 9,112 since Friday at 7 PM, and that leaves only 888 to go to reach 10,000 IDs this weekend?

No, I better not say that. Nope.


Julkaistu helmikuu 27, 2022 09:33 IP. käyttäjältä lynnharper lynnharper | 0 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti