26 de marzo de 2020

Don't Forget to Fav Photos for the March Winner!

Cast your votes and be counted! You can 'fav' any observation that you like to vote for the Vermont Atlas of Life iNaturalist photo-observation of the month. Located to the right of the photographs and just below the location map is a star symbol. Click on this star and you've fav'ed an observation. At the end of each month, we'll see which photo-observation has the most favs and crown them the monthly winner. Check out awesome observations and click the star for those that shine for you. Vote early and often!

Check out who is in the lead and see a list of all of this month's photo-observations.

Ingresado el 26 de marzo de 2020 por kpmcfarland kpmcfarland | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

24 de marzo de 2020

Tech Tip Tuesday: Using the Forum

Oh, hello winter. This morning I woke up, looked outside, and thought for a brief, hopeful instance that maybe it was actually January. It only took one glance at the mound of toilet paper rolls in my living room (just kidding, it was actually the New York Times in my inbox) to snap back to present.

Hi everyone, I hope you’re all hanging in there. If there’s one phrase I’ve heard repeated over and over during this past week and a half, it’s “weird times”. That seems to be the best description I or anyone else can come up with to summarize what’s going on. They certainly are unprecedented and are actively reshaping the very fabric of our societies. Understandably, we’re all feeling stressed out and constantly on edge. It’s definitely exhausting, so I hope that you’re all finding healthy ways to take care of yourselves.

With all this chaos, fear, and uncertainty, it’s easy to become glued to the news. I’ll admit that at one-point last week I found myself refreshing my email every 5 minutes to see if there were any updates. Now, obviously, this is unhealthy, and I’ve since tried to substitute obsessively checking for updates with stepping outside, even for just a 10 minute walk up my road. On these walks, I try to remain focused on what’s around me, instead of spinning a story about the world’s events. Intentionally sharpening my focus has allowed me to notice so much more than I might otherwise. So far, two of my coolest sightings were a mink running along a streambank and the mating calls of a Barred Owl pair. These small moments remind me that there is still beauty and wonder in the world. You just need to look for it!

This Week on Tech Tip Tuesday

At this time, social distancing is one of the best tools we have for slowing the virus’s spread and “flattening the curve”. I don't know how everyone else is managing the relative isolation, however my impression is that the lack of human interaction is challenging even for those of us who aren’t extroverts. Thankfully, in this technology-dominant age, there are still plenty of ways to connect.

If you’re looking to connect with other naturalists, then iNaturalist is the place to do it! The way many people connect with others on iNaturalist is either through direct messaging or over a species identification. However, there’s one place in particular that’s great for getting feedback on your questions and ideas, and for joining a conversation between multiple people—the iNaturalist forum.

If you were unaware that this platform existed, or have never used it, now is a great time to check it out. I personally use it to find tips and tricks for using iNaturalist better. Besides tutorials, it’s also a great place to find general information about iNaturalist, report bugs, request new features, and discuss different topics in nature, such as weird animal names.

To get started, go to “Community” in the menu bar across the top of your page and click on “Forum”. Once on the forum, you will see a list of categories. On the left, you will see the category name with a description of the types of conversations hosted there. In the middle, you will see the number of topics posted per week. On the right, you will see the three most recent posts under that category. You can also sort posts by “latest” or “top”. When you see a post that interests you, click on it.

Once you click on a post, you can see the original and all the comments other users added below with their own thoughts. If you scroll to the bottom, you will notice that the forum prompts you to sign up. You can read all the comments without signing up, however in order to use the site more fully, you do need to create an account. You can create a brand-new account, or simply connect using your existing iNaturalist account. To sign up, click the “sign up” button at the bottom of the page and follow their instructions. If you want to use your iNaturalist account, click on the option in the right hand side of the dialogue box.

Once you’ve signed up, many more options will appear and be available. Returning to the bottom of the post, you will now notice that you can bookmark the post, share it, flag it, or reply. To add your own comments or questions, click on the “reply” button and type in the dialogue box. Remember, keep your comments and questions appropriate—community rules apply.

One important thing to know about the forum before continuing is that it operates on trust levels. By interacting with certain aspects of the forum in positive ways, you earn trust levels which allow you to access different features. Trust levels essentially provide a cushion for new users learning how the site operates and provides benefits to established users which help them better support the community. To learn more about how trust levels work, check out this article. Ultimately, you likely won’t notice your trust level affecting your ability to participate too much, especially if you’re just using basic forum features, however knowing that this system is in place is important for understanding how the community operates.

For now, those are the important basics to know for understanding the forum. If you’re interested in learning more, I may cover more advanced forum uses in the future.

TTT Task of the Week

This week, I want you to engage with iNaturalist’s online community through the forum. Visit it and read some posts that interest you. I also encourage you to make an account and contribute to discussions.

That’s all for this week! Thank you for helping us map Vermont’s biodiversity, stay safe, and happy observing!

Ingresado el 24 de marzo de 2020 por emilyanderson2 emilyanderson2 | 1 comentarios | Deja un comentario

17 de marzo de 2020

Tech Tip Tuesday: Using iNaturalist as a Teaching Tool

I usually start TTT with a comment about the weather and what’s happening in nature, however doing that today would feel disingenuous. It’s hard to believe how much can change in a short period of time. I know that I’m not alone in feeling uprooted and disoriented after such a tumultuous week or two. As someone who is passionate about the natural world, I’ve found myself turning there for comfort and escape. I also recognize that easy access to nature is a privilege and not available to everyone for a multitude of reasons. Employment, location, and health status, among other factors, can all create barriers to extended outdoor recreation, especially under current conditions. Keeping this in mind, I still urge you to spend time in nature whenever it is safe and feasible to do so. And if you can’t, open a window, breathe in the fresh air, and listen to birdsong, or listen to birdsong through your smartphone or other listening device. You may find that this too brings you a brief spell of ease.

My final comments before we dive in are not nature related. In this time of social distancing, the prospect of spending extended periods in relative isolation feels scary. In these moments, we need community more than ever. Make sure that you’re still reaching out to the people in your lives who you care about. Also, reach out to people you don’t know and who may be struggling right now through acts of kindness committed from a safe distance. Despite needing to stay at least six feet away, we still need to be there for each other. Regardless of our individual situations, most of us are feeling lonely and afraid, making connection essential.

This Week on Tech Tip Tuesday

As I’m sure all of you are acutely aware (or experiencing directly), all Vermont public schools (as well public schools in many other states) either are closed or will be closing tomorrow until April 6th. I can’t even begin to imagine the difficulties this will place on parents and families across Vermont (and beyond). I want to acknowledge that for many, school is more than an education: it’s food, childcare, and a social network, among many other things.

Tech Tip Tuesday can barely even scratch this surface, however what it can provide is directions to guide you in using iNaturalist to keep the children in your lives engaged in nature education. One great aspect of iNaturalist is that you don’t need to be an expert to teach children about nature. Between its A.I. and suggestions from others, you can identify the life around your home or along your favorite trail with relative ease. You can also learn more about the species you uncover on the taxa info pages.

Since some schools are trying to hold classes online, iNaturalist also makes a great tool for remote learning. If students are of an age where they can register for iNaturalist without parental permission, teachers can potentially have them use iNaturalist to collect information around their homes or neighborhoods and share them to a class project page. The possibilities of how to use iNaturalist as an educational tool are plentiful! To learn more about how to use iNaturalist as an educational tool, check out the iNaturalist teacher’s guide and this thread on the iNaturalist forum.

However, there are a couple of things to consider before taking off. First, it’s important that you as the educator understand how to use the app. iNaturalist recommends having at least 20-30 observations uploaded before using it for a class. Second, only people 13 years or older can create an iNaturalist account. In order to use the app with younger children, either you must be the one using it, or you should use Seek, a similar app designed by iNaturalist for younger children. Third, another point that’s been raised by some in the iNaturalist community is that iNaturalist will teach you what something is but won’t necessarily teach you what its identifying features are. If you want the young people you’re teaching to take a deeper dive into identification, you can check out the Vermont Atlas of Life website for a great list of identification resources.

Of course, there is more to consider than these three things and I once again highly recommend checking out the teacher guide, even parents. While you may not be a formal teacher, the guide will still help you understand how best to use iNaturalist to engage your children.

If you’re an educator, parent, or other individual looking to educate the children in your care about nature and have any questions about using iNaturalist, please email me at eanderson@vtecostudies.org or message me on iNaturalist.

TTT Task of the Week

If you know any educators, parents, or other individuals looking for a way to keep their children engaged in learning either in-person or remotely, please share iNaturalist’s teacher guide with them. If you can, please get outside. Explore, take a break from the news, and photograph as many species as you can find.

As always, thank you for helping us map Vermont’s biodiversity, stay safe, and happy observing!

Ingresado el 17 de marzo de 2020 por emilyanderson2 emilyanderson2 | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

11 de marzo de 2020

New Vermont Atlas of Life Swag!

The VAL team worked with artist (and iNaturalist!) Katama Murray to create this eye-catching design to raise awareness and some funds for the Vermont Atlas of Life. Katama created each drawing using an archival pen, and then transformed them digitally to make the entire composition into the shape of the wonderful state of Vermont.

You and your friends and family will look snazzy, support citizen science, and help spread the word for biodiversity conservation with these unique shirts. Check out our nice selection of styles, colors, and sizes at https://www.bonfire.com/vermont-atlas-of-life

Can You Identify all the Species?


We chose 39 species to include in the graphic. Some are favorites, some iconic, others have neat conservation stories. How many can you identify? View a large image and when you've written down all your answers, visit the key to see how you did. No cheating!

About the Artist


Katama Murray is an eco artist, aspiring educator, and naturalist. Originally from the coast of Downeast Maine, her work is inspired by the earth’s natural rhythm and humanity’s interconnectedness to the environment. Living and studying throughout various parts of New England, she has always been influenced by the outdoors and the way in which we interact with it. With her BFA in Printmaking and Art History from Plymouth State University, she strives to learn and teach together with people of all ages, hoping to inspire others to become more connected to our only planet. Her work explores the combination of multiple printmaking and textile techniques that utilize natural materials and a sustainable mindset. In 2020 she will continue her graduate studies at Indiana University Bloomington, focusing on her MFA in Printmaking. To learn more about her work please visit: www.katamamurrayart.com

Ingresado el 11 de marzo de 2020 por kpmcfarland kpmcfarland | 2 comentarios | Deja un comentario

10 de marzo de 2020

Tech Tip Tuesday: All About Checklists

Spring is in the air. Literally, in some ways. I took a walk up the road yesterday while enjoying the gorgeous weather and was surprised to find my eyes briefly assaulted by some small, flying insects. While that may be more spring than I’m ready for at the moment, I am enjoying the warm sun, renewed vigor of woodpeckers in the nearby forests, and the early shoots of flowering plants beginning to emerge in my garden. At this point, it’s hard to know what March may still have in store for us, however I will take this break from winter’s icy grip while it lasts.

This Week on Tech Tip Tuesday

Many citizen science apps exist nowadays covering a wide range of project styles and topics. When it comes to naturalist apps it can be hard to know exactly which one to use in each situation. While I usually take this space to explain a handy feature of iNaturalist, today I’m going to explain why it might be best to record your bird and butterfly data on eBird and e-Butterfly.

The main difference between these two projects lies in how they record data. eBird and e-Butterfly both use checklists to record information about species, while iNaturalist uses one-at-a-time observations. While observations are incredibly useful for noting when a species is present in an area, they fail to provide clarity about species’ absences or their relative abundance. From iNaturalist presence-only observations, you can build models of a species’ range and then track expansions and contractions, but without individual counts you can’t track population declines.

It’s in these cases that checklists shine. Unlike one-off observations, complete checklists report what wasn’t found too. For a complete checklist, every species you could identify to the best of your ability, by sight and/or sound, is reported. As long as you aren’t intentionally leaving any species off your list, you’re submitting a complete checklist.

Checklisting also collects important information on effort. When you begin a checklist for eBird using the smartphone app , it tracks the distance you travel and your time birding. It also keeps track of whether you see a species and how many individuals you count. Using this information, eBird estimates the amount of effort expended while birding, providing context for the number of species you recorded. The more effort that goes into your search (based on time, distance, and number of people), the more likely it is that you’ve observed all species present in that area. If a species isn’t detected and the completed checklist indicates relatively high effort, it’s likely that the species was truly absent.

While this system may seem a little complicated, scientists can actually use it to produce fairly detailed models displaying bird (or butterfly) presence and absence. On eBird, for example, they use this data to create maps showing species’ migration and population trends. Ultimately, this data will be highly useful as scientists continue to unravel how climate change, land use, and other human activities impact birds around the world. Checkout this article to learn more about how completed checklists are used.

I encourage you to use eBird and e-Butterfly for recording bird and butterfly observations. This is not to discourage you from using iNaturalist, since it does contribute valuable data on species’ distributions. However, it’s important to understand the differences between these tools and what they offer, and learn to use them both. So, if you decide to go out birding or butterflying, I encourage you to keep a checklist as you go and upload any neat observations into iNaturalist later.

TTT Task of the Week

This week I want you to explore Vermont eBird’s science section. Check out all of their maps to get a sense for what these differences can do. To learn more about these maps, check out this article on Vermont eBird. Next time you go out birding or butterfly hunting, I want you to give eBird or e-Butterfly a try. And keep using iNaturalist too! You can upload any photos you take while out checklisting.

Thank you for helping us map Vermont’s biodiversity and happy observing!

Ingresado el 10 de marzo de 2020 por emilyanderson2 emilyanderson2 | 2 comentarios | Deja un comentario

03 de marzo de 2020

Tech Tip Tuesday: Adding Sounds

Happy March everyone! I couldn’t believe the warm air when I stepped outside this morning. Between that, the vibrant birdsong all around my house, and the light sky, it really feels like spring is almost here. This past weekend I saw three skunks within less than a mile’s drive, waddling along the side of a backroad. This is a sure sign that breeding season is beginning! If you want to learn more about the flora and fauna you can expect to see this month, check out the Vermont Center for Ecostudies’ Field Guide to March.

I’m also happy to announce that the TTT archive is now live on the VAL website. By providing direct links on our website, we hope that you can more easily access older articles. As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out with your ideas for topics or other suggestions for how to improve TTT.

This Week on Tech Tip Tuesday

Before long, the sounds of spring will flood our ears - birds singing, frogs croaking, and the whine of cars struggling through the deep mud that plagues many a Vermont backroad. That is why today, I’m going to talk about uploading sounds to iNaturalist.

Uploading sounds is a highly useful, yet underutilized feature of the app. For animals like birds and frogs, we may often hear them before we see them. In fact, sometimes we may never see them. However, that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve to claim their own patch of iNaturalist turf. Many species are identifiable by the noise they make. These observations often provide just as much information as a photo. In many cases, uploading a sound can result in a quality, research grade observation. Want to know what these sound observations are like? Here’s a great example.

Recording and uploading a sound is almost as easy as uploading a visual observation. Unfortunately for iPhone users, you cannot record and upload sounds directly from the iNaturalist app. However, you can either use your iPhone’s pre-downloaded recording app or select one yourself from the Apple Store. Once you have finished recording a sound on your chosen app, you need to transfer the sound file to your computer. After the sound file is on your computer, hit upload, select your file, and fill out the observation’s information as usual.

Like with many other iNaturalist features, Android users have a much easier time. When you want to record a sound, begin your usual iNaturalist upload process. Click on “record sound” (or choose sound if you already have one saved). Selecting this option will either automatically take you to your phone’s recording app, or in some cases it will allow you to record the sound directly through iNaturalist (my phone does). Once you hit stop on your recording, you will get the option to use your sound to create an observation and should proceed as usual.

I realize that I didn’t provide many steps to this, however that’s because the process is essentially the same as creating an observation from a photo. The only significant difference is using a sound recording app instead of your phone’s camera.

If you need more guidance, iNaturalist does provide some instruction on how to upload sounds on their Help page. However, be warned: some of this information is a bit out of date. Despite what they say, it is possible to upload sounds from your android mobile device.

TTT Task of the Week

This week I want you all to go out and experiment with recording wildlife and uploading their sounds to iNaturalist. Birds are a great place to start. Take some time to play around with the process and figure out what makes sense and what is still confusing. As always, I’m happy to answer questions if something doesn’t make sense. Stay tuned, as we may revisit this topic again in the coming weeks.

That’s all for this week. Thank you for helping us map Vermont’s biodiversity and happy observing!

Ingresado el 03 de marzo de 2020 por emilyanderson2 emilyanderson2 | 6 comentarios | Deja un comentario

02 de marzo de 2020

February 2020 Photo-observation of the Month

Congratulations to killamfarm for winning the February 2020 Vermont Atlas of Life iNaturalist photo-observation of the month. The image of a Common Raccoon (Procyon lotor) sleeping soundly under a blue sky captured the most attention by voters. They added that it "must have been chased up the tree the night before and spent the day resting before disappearing into the night." Withover 1,500 photo-observations submitted by 214 observers this month, it was very competitive. Click on the image to see and explore all of the amazing photo-observations.

Raccoons were originally animals of the forest. Today, they are most often be seen along streams, in open forests, or wetlands but inhabit urban, suburban and farming areas as well. They breed from January to mid-March and the litter is born in late April or May. The young, typically numbering four to five but sometimes as many as eight, are helpless and completely dependent on their mother for survival. The male raccoon plays no role in raising the young. The female is very protective of her young and will carry them around by the nape of the neck. They are able to open their eyes after 18 days and soon after gain the ability to hear. By the time they are four to six weeks old, they are strong enough to stand on their own. They are weaned from their mother's milk and begin to hunt independently by the time they are about three months old. The young will remain with their mother for one year.

Raccoons are nocturnal. Like the rest of their habits, they often modify their behavior when searching for food or water. Raccoons are curious animals, which, at times, can cause problems with humans. This has led to some people labeling them as mischievous and as bandits or robbers.

Visit the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist where you can vote for the winner this month by clicking the ‘fav’ star on your favorite photo-observation. Make sure you get outdoors and record the biodiversity around you, then submit your discoveries and you could be a winner!

Ingresado el 02 de marzo de 2020 por kpmcfarland kpmcfarland | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

25 de febrero de 2020

Tech Tip Tuesday: Using Observation Fields

Maybe it’s my imagination, but I can almost feel spring in the air. These past couple of warm (for Vermont) days have me picturing green shoots poking up through damp soil and long absent bird species fluttering high in the trees. The wild critters in my backyard are slowly spreading their legs and venturing beyond the forest’s edge. I returned last week from a couple days away to find my unplowed driveway and yard splattered with tracks of all sizes. Sadly, with the warm weather most had already melted into indistinguishable blobs.

Although the weather is slowly erasing all of the neat tracks around my house, I’ll take this warm spell. At this time of year, who knows how long it will last!

This Week on Tech Tip Tuesday

When studying the natural world, it’s rare to look at one species in isolation. That’s because biodiversity exists in a vast web, making it difficult to definitively tease apart one species from another. Many types of relationships exist between different species in an ecosystem and understanding how they work can provide valuable clues that can help predict how they might respond to changes in their environment.

Last week I talked about how to search for and map multiple species’ observations at a time. However, sometimes you may want to make connections between species when creating your observation. As I’ve mentioned here many times, iNaturalist is a powerful tool for collecting data on biodiversity. While collecting basic data about one species is useful, the more detailed information you can supply, the better. Given the vast web of relationships that exist, one important piece of information to include in observations is which species your observed subject is associated with.

Like many of iNaturalist’s other tricks, there is a fairly simple way to note associated species: by adding an “associated species” observation field. Maybe you’re already familiar with observation fields. Observation fields allow you to track information that iNaturalist isn’t readily recording. Users create observation fields, then choose whether to gather information in text, date, or numeric format. Anyone can create an observation field, however they are often generated by a project to gather specific details about observations. Once created, the field is available for everyone to use.

Today, I’m going to walk you through using the “associated species” observation field, however I invite you to explore all of the different options. There are many!

To find observation fields, go to an observation (your own or someone else’s) that has a species that is commonly associated with another species (Monarchs on Milkweed is one example). To find “observation field” scroll down below where Projects are listed on the right-hand side of your screen. You will see the heading “Observation Fields”. Click in the blank text box and begin typing in “associated species”. At some point, you will see it pop up in the list below the text box -- click on it.

Once you select the observation field you want to use, you’re now able to type out the name of the associated species. Unfortunately, this won’t auto-fill, so you will need to enter the full name of the plant (or animal or fungi) associated with your observed species. If you don’t know the associate by its species name, you can use genus or family names. Other users will only be able to correct these labels by commenting, not directly editing, so it is best to stick with what you know for certain. Since other users can add observation fields, I also encourage you to ask in the observation’s comments for the name of the associated species if you cannot find them yourself.

Once the associated species’ name is satisfactorily entered, you’re all set to click “Add” to the right of the text box. Now, when others come to look at this observation or export this data, the associated species will be clearly visible.

TTT Task of the Week

Take some time this week to explore the observations field. Add associated species to observations where appropriate. And no need to stop there! Check out some of the other options and see if any apply to your observations. Just remember, when in doubt, stick to what you know for certain and ask for help when you need it.

Thank you for helping us map Vermont’s biodiversity and happy observing!

Ingresado el 25 de febrero de 2020 por emilyanderson2 emilyanderson2 | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

18 de febrero de 2020

Tech Tip Tuesday: Using URLs

It’s reaching that point in the season where I’m starting to dream of my summer garden. Every day I look out the window to see the usually vibrant, green patch covered in snow. And I know I’m not the only one. Last summer a whole host of wildlife came by for an easy snack: deer, groundhogs, squirrels, and even a couple of bold raccoons. Now, the garden is barren and the animals are busy scavenging the last winter morsels in the woods before new spring growth brings some much-needed variety to the menu.

When I went out for a walk this weekend, I saw evidence of foraging everywhere. Here and there, tree branches and other woody stems showed traces of browse and nibbles from smaller critters. Most noticeable were patches of ground scraped nearly bare of snow and leaves. Only the size of the patches and the nearby tracks indicated what might have left them: deer, turkeys, and the occasional squirrel.

What’s been foraging near your home or along your favorite trail? Next time you head out, keep on the lookout for signs of snacking and make sure to add them to iNaturalist!

This Week on Tech Tip Tuesday

Picture your favorite animal. For some of us it’s easy, however if you’re like me you may have multiple favorite animals. Sometimes when exploring the biodiversity around us, we run into similar dilemmas where we want to investigate more than one species at a time. Often when looking for patterns in the natural world, we need to look beyond a single species.

In using iNaturalist’s “Explore” tool, you’ve probably noticed that you can only select one species at a time to investigate. What happens if you need to see the observations for two or more species – is it impossible? Good news – it’s not. Today I’ll explain a neat (and relatively simple) trick that will help you create more specific searches. Sounds pretty neat, right? Let’s get started!

There are two main ways you can search for observations in Explore. The first is the one that most people use – you fill out the search fields and filter your results to find what you’re looking for. But what if the options you’re looking for aren’t included, like wanting to view two different species’ observations side-by-side? To do this, you use the second search option – changing the search page’s URL.

First, go to Explore and fill out search information (I searched for Seven-spotted Lady Beetles without any other restrictions), and then look at the web address. It will look something like this: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=any&subview=grid&taxon_id=51702. At first glance, this may look like a random jumble of information, however by picking it apart you will realize that it is actually quite detailed.

The first section “https://www.inaturalist.org/observations” notes the page that I’m on. This is the URL for the Explore page. The question mark then shows that I’m starting to look at the search query components. “place_id=any” means that I searched without a location restriction, so it’s returning observations for all places. The “&” means that we’re moving to a new search component. “subview=grid” means that I’m viewing my results in the grid view option. When I switch to the list view option, that section of the URL changes to “subview=table”.

Finally, on to the part that we’re talking about today. You will notice that unlike the first two components, “taxon_id=51702” contains numbers. These numbers correspond to the species I searched for. Every species has a taxon id number. You can find this by visiting the species’ Taxa Info page (from a previous TTT). Once on its page, this number is located in the URL. For example, the URL for the Seven-spotted Lady Beetle’s Taxa Info page is https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/51702-Coccinella-septempunctata. The number is the taxa id and the text is its scientific name.

Armed with that information, you can use this section of the URL to expand your search query to more than one species. Let’s say I want to see the observations for both Seven-spotted Lady Beetles and Fourteen-spotted Lady Beetles. To do this from my current search, I go to the Fourteen-spotted Lady Beetle’s Taxa Info page and copy its taxa id number from the URL.

Back on my original search page, I go up to the web address and click in the URL at the end of the Seven-spotted Lady Beetle’s taxon id number. I add a comma (you always separate multiple components of the same search field with a comma, versus separating different distinct search fields with an “&”) and paste in the Fourteen-spotted Lady Beetle’s taxon id number. Before hitting enter, make sure to click on where it says “id” in the URL and change it to “ids”. If you forget to do this, your URL will take you to a blank page. I spent several confused minutes troubleshooting before realizing I was missing that one small, important “s”.

When done, my URL looks like this: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?61532&place_id=any&subview=grid&taxon_ids=51702,61532. Now when I hit enter to launch the search, I get observations for both Seven-spotted and Fourteen-spotted Lady Beetles.

The nice thing about this URL trick is that it’s not exclusive to species. You can use the same set of steps for locations. If I want to look at observations for Vermont and New Hampshire at the same time, I simply pull up the individual searches for each, copy their place id number, and add them with a comma as you would for species. You will get a URL that looks like this: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=47,41&taxon_ids=51702,61532.

Note: You don’t need to add an “s” to the end of “place_id”. I’m not entirely sure why, however I know that for my computer it returned me to an “any place” search.

Finally, you can also use URLs to show more than one species’ ranges on a map. To do this, you need this URL: https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/map?taxa=51702,61532#4/41.902/-75.76. Copy and paste this URL into your web address bar and alter the taxon id numbers to reflect the species you want to map. The numbers at the end relate to the map’s position and will change as you zoom in or out on the map. When you edit the taxon id numbers and hit enter, you should see a map with two or more colored squares showing where your species are found.

Once you get the hang of it, this trick is easy to use and gives you the freedom to search for the exact observations that you want. You can apply this trick to any component of the URL: people, places, dates, etc. You can check out the iNaturalist forum to learn more about editing URLs.

TTT Task of the Week

Editing URLs can seem confusing until you get used to how they’re formatted. Take some time this week to explore different search parameters by editing URLs. See if you can search for multiple species, places, or people.

Thank you for helping us map Vermont’s biodiversity and happy observing!

Ingresado el 18 de febrero de 2020 por emilyanderson2 emilyanderson2 | 5 comentarios | Deja un comentario

11 de febrero de 2020

Tech Tip Tuesday: Understanding Licensing

Nature is full of surprises. This past week I’ve been amazed with all the wildlife that I saw out and about despite the bouts of snow and bone-chilling cold. Just the other evening on my drive home from work, I saw a muskrat skittering across the road. Although they don’t hibernate in the winter, they mostly remain in their shelters unless disturbance or winter conditions require them to move. It makes me wonder what inspired this one to cross a road high up on a hillside instead of staying indoors. This experience was a great reminder to me that you can have interesting wildlife encounters at any point in your day, even when you’re not exactly expecting it. As always, be sure to record your neat sightings on iNaturalist so that they can help others develop a clearer picture of wildlife in your area!

This Week on Tech Tip Tuesday

Most of us who add observations to iNaturalist do so in the hopes of contributing valuable information to biodiversity research and conservation. Research grade data is made accessible to scientists through the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF). Organizations and other users will often use iNaturalist photos for articles, publications, and personal projects.

However, what many don’t realize is that iNaturalist has different copyright licensing options available that get applied to observation data, photos, and sound recordings. These licensing options generally fall under two broad categories: “all rights reserved” copyright and creative commons. “All rights reserved” copyright is what most people are familiar with - it restricts you from freely copying someone else’s work without permission or credit. What we’re going to talk about today is creative commons (CC), a form of copyright that allows the creator (licensor) to give permission for others to use their work in certain ways without asking permission first. This allows others to use creative products more easily while ensuring that the licensor gets credited for their work.

There are six different CC licenses available, each with slightly different conditions. The licensing that you choose to apply to your observations, photos, and sound recordings affect whether or not GBIF and others can use your uploaded information. Below I will walk you through how to find your personal copyright settings, what they mean, and how they affect the feature they’re applied to.

Finding your copyright settings:

Before I explain what the different license options are on iNaturalist, it’s important to know where to find them. To access your copyright settings, go to your profile photo’s dropdown menu in the top-right corner and click on “Profile Settings”. This will take you to a page that says “Edit Account and Profile”. Once on this page, scroll towards the bottom until you find the section that says “Licensing”. You will see three different categories: observation, photo, and sound. They each contain the same list of possible licenses. Take a moment to look at your current settings and know that we will return here in a couple paragraphs.

What they mean:

CC0 - No Copyright - You waive your rights to these observations, photos, or sounds. Anyone can use them without crediting you. Others can create new material based on your work.

CC-BY - Attribution - Anyone can use your observations, photos, or sounds as long as they credit you. Others can create new material based on your work.

CC-BY-NC - Attribution-NonCommercial - Anyone can use your observation, photo, or sound, and create new material based on it, however they can’t make a profit off of the new material.

CC-BY-SA - Attribution-ShareAlike - Anyone can use your observations, photos, or sounds, however any new creations based on your work needs to be credited the same as the original.

CC-BY-ND - Attribution-NoDerivs - Anyone can use your observations, photos, and sounds, however they can’t alter your work to create new materials.

CC-BY-NC-SA - Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike - Anyone can use your work, so long as they don’t profit off it and use identical credits for new creations.

CC-BY-NC-ND - Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs - Anyone can use your work, however they can’t profit off it or change it.

Things to consider when selecting a license:

Observations: Not all research grade observations end up in GBIF and this is often due to licensing. GBIF can’t use observations licensed as CC-BY-SA or CC-BY-ND due to the way that the data gets processed. Any observations licensed in these ways (even high-quality research grade observations) are excluded from GBIF’s database, rendering them useless to the scientific community. If you want your observations to serve as data points to researchers, you need to choose either CC0, CC-BY, or CC-BY-NC.

Photos: Photos are more flexible when it comes to licensing. They aren’t subject to the same restrictions as observations, meaning that a photo licensed as CC-BY-SA or CC-BY-ND can still end up in GBIF, so long as the observation is licensed correctly. Also, as long as your photo receives some kind of CC designation, others can use it within the parameters described above.

Sounds: Sound recordings follow the same rules as photos. Any research grade sound recording with a CC license is shared to GBIF and can be used by others in their reports and projects.

Changing your license settings:

If after reading through all of this you want to change your observation, photo, or sound licensing, here’s how to do it. If you left your settings page, return to it following the steps described in the first section. Once at the licensing section, select the new license you want to use. Under each category (observation, photo, sound), there is a box that when checked will apply these changes to all existing observations. This allows for easy updating. If you only want your licensing changes to affect observations going forward (none that are already uploaded), then leave that box unchecked.

Want to learn about CC licensing? You can check out their website for more in-depth descriptions of the six different licenses.

TTT Task of the Week

This week I want you to follow the steps outlined above to find and, if desired, change your license settings. If your current observation license is set to one of the unusable forms, I encourage you to choose a different setting.

That’s all for this week! Thank you for helping us map Vermont’s biodiversity and happy observing!

Ingresado el 11 de febrero de 2020 por emilyanderson2 emilyanderson2 | 2 comentarios | Deja un comentario