01 de diciembre de 2020

Journal 4: Reflection

Over the last couple of months I have engaged in the Citizen Science program and utilized the iNaturalist app to post observations of organisms and species that I found in New York City. In addition, I participated in the Ecoquest challenge and had the opportunity to search for specific plants in New York along with many other people. Through journal entries, taking pictures of organisms that I found and posting them to iNaturalist and having my pictures identified by other naturalists, this project made me feel like an active citizen adding to a community seeking to appreciate and preserve nature.

I would not describe myself as someone who loves nature and who used to stop while I am walking in the street to appreciate a beautiful tree. Perhaps this is because I struggle to live in the moment and instead focus on what I need to do in the future. Both this project and the pandemic, though, helped shift my focus to the present day and world around me rather than the list of things I have to do. I think the pandemic did this because in quarantine each day flows into the next and creates a monotonous routine. Although boring, it also encouraged me to focus on the moment more and appreciate smaller aspects to life I didn’t notice before. This project expanded that sentiment to nature.

When I first began this project I was a little confused why it was specifically assigned for people in New York City because when I think about the city I think about Times Square, fast paced walking, music and lights. I do not think about nature and the large variety of plants that thrive in New York. This project, more than anything, showed me that nature is found everywhere and is not limited to suburban or rural areas. I loved taking intentional trips to Riverside and Central Park and specifically looking for plants and species to take pictures of, but I also loved walking in the street and noticing interesting organisms I wouldn’t have noticed before and taking a picture of them. After posting pictures I excitedly awaited notifications informing me that naturalists had identified my pictures and I would then read about the organism I had photographed. What I previously saw as a random green plant, through iNaturalist, I now identified as a Cherry laurel, an evergreen species native to regions bordering the Black Sea. iNaturalist has shown me that despite often blending in with each other, plants and all organisms are native to unique regions and require specific conditions and care in order to thrive.

One of my favorite parts of iNaturalist is that after I post an observation, it is almost immediately identified by a different iNaturalist user. iNaturalist has users all over the world and is unified by the simple love of nature. In addition to providing a community and space to learn about nature from scientists and naturalists, iNaturalist helps create data for scientists who strive to better understand nature and organisms in order to find ways to best protect them. Engaging in this Citizen Science program made me think a lot about our responsibilities as members of society and guardians of Earth. Something as simple as taking a picture of a pretty plant helps with the collection and analysis of data to identify the organisms we live with and work to preserve the environment that sustains those organisms.

Although I loved making observations, I did struggle to fulfill the Ecoquest challenge and ultimately did not succeed. I researched both the Mugwort and Groundsel Tree before attempting to find them and I specifically looked in areas where they are usually found like along roads, in forested areas, and in sandy soil. What is frustrating to me is it is very likely that I encountered them, but did not realize it was them and did not take a picture. If I were to do the Ecoquest again, I would take a picture of even more plants than I did because sometimes it is hard to tell what something is and posting it to iNaturalist and waiting for identifications really helps. In addition, something that I think would have helped me find the Ecoquest would have been to look up the intended plants in iNaturalist and see where other people have found them and gone to those locations to look. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic it was a bit harder to travel to different areas which is why most of my observations are from Riverside and close to campus or from when I was able to go to Central Park a couple of times. Ideally, I would have traveled to many different locations and parts of Central Park and hopefully will be able to in the future if I do the Ecoquest again.

Overall, this was a very enjoyable experience. So much so, that I’ve even told my friends and family about iNaturalist and have made plans with friends to go on nature walks to find observations to post. I look forward to continuing to participate in the Citizen Science program. On a personal level, it will be good for my mental health to get outside and to actually see and appreciate the nature found all around us, even in New York City. I will also find it rewarding to continue to be part of a global project as a non-specialist and to continue to contribute to an important database for scientists around the world.

Ingresado el 01 de diciembre de 2020 por abigail364 abigail364 | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

Journal 3: November Ecoquest

The November Ecoquest challenge was to find the Groundsel Tree, or Baccharis halimifolia. Similarly to the October Ecoquest, I chose to research the Groundsel Tree before beginning my search. The Groundsel Tree also belongs to the daisy family and is a fall-flowering shrub and is tall with white flowers that make it stand out. I decided to go to Central Park and look there for this tree. However, after looking at many trees and taking pictures of them, I was unable to find the Groundsel Tree. Although I did not find the Ecoquest, I made twenty four observations in the month of November and will describe some of my favorite ones. First, when I was in Riverside Park, I got very close to an Eastern Gray Squirrel and got a cool picture which I was excited about. I also took a picture of what I learned to be a Japanese creeper which is a flowering plant in the grape family native to Japan, Korea and China. In addition, I found many different forms of Dicots which are flowering plants. I also got a close up picture of a House Sparrow and was really able to admire the detail of its wings. I also found Cherry Laurel in Riverside Park that I thought was pretty. Another cool finding that I photographed were fungi on Amsterdam Avenue. All of these observations that I mentioned and many more can be found on my profile on iNaturalist. Instead of getting frustrated and disappointed by not finding the Groundsel Tree, I really enjoyed finding so many other forms of nature that I never would have noticed if not for this project.

Ingresado el 01 de diciembre de 2020 por abigail364 abigail364 | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

Journal 2: October Ecoquest

The October Ecoquest was to locate the Common Mugwort, or Artemisia vulgaris. Before attempting this challenge I decided to research the Mugwort and learn about its origin and where it is usually located. From my research I learned that the Mugwort is a perennial weed from the daisy family that typically grows in sandy soils in forested and coastal areas and often along roads. It is one of the most common weeds found in North America and it thrives in Manhattan. Because I read that Mugworts are generally found in forested areas and along roads, I went to Riverside Park right by campus and looked around there. Although I found many weeds and posted them to iNaturalist, I struggled to find the Mugwort and ultimately did not succeed. It is likely that I walked by some and missed them, but despite photographing weeds and plants that I thought resembled the Mugwort, I did not find the Mugwort. I must admit that I was disappointed to have not fulfilled the Ecoquest challenge, however I still benefited from the activity in many ways. I was forced to go outside and not simply pass by nature, but seek it out and identify the plants that I observed. During the month of October I photographed Chrysanthemums. I read about them after and learned that they are flowering plants that are native to Asia and northeastern Europe and are used in fall gardens as a beautiful burst of color. Although not from NYC, in the month of October I also photographed a Monarch butterfly that was flying over a flower in my backyard in Long Island. This butterfly was huge and it was really exciting to get so close to it and take a picture, especially after I learned that the Monarch migrates over 3,000 miles from Canada to Mexico and that its numbers have been in serious decline. Although I wasn’t able to find the October Ecoquest, I had a really great time looking for it and finding other plants and species during my search.

Ingresado el 01 de diciembre de 2020 por abigail364 abigail364 | 1 comentario | Deja un comentario

23 de octubre de 2020

Journal 1

Since the beginning of quarantine I was completely isolated in my home and only went outside to walk my dog. However, I moved into the city last week and realize now more than ever how important it is to go outside and how therapeutic communing with nature can be. There is so much beauty in the world around us and it is a shame to stay indoors and not interact with and learn about nature and its vastness.
For my first few observations, I added a picture of a Monarch butterfly that I took at my home in Long Island, and a picture of beautiful flowers I saw in the middle of a largely desert area in Israel. In addition, I walked around Morningside Heights and to Riverside Park today and took pictures of some stunning flowers that I saw. Previously, I had not thought of Manhattan as a home for flowers and nature and am excited to discover aspects to the city I haven't noticed before. This project is a great opportunity to get outside, observe the world around me, and share pictures of organisms that I find.

Ingresado el 23 de octubre de 2020 por abigail364 abigail364 | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

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