Tech Tip Tuesday: Adding Historic Photographs

Happy New Year! I hope that your past two weeks were filled with happiness and relaxation. Or I hope that they were at least filled with good food and plenty of places to hide when you’re tired of talking to people. Realistically, it might have been two weeks of both.

Welcome back to Tech Tip Tuesday everyone! If you’re new here (maybe your New Year’s resolution to get more involved with iNaturalist led you here) this is a weekly series where I share a tidbit of iNaturalist wisdom to help you expand your repertoire of naturalist know-how. Since the New Year is about new beginnings, I figure it’s time to add an extra element to TTT. I will continue brainstorming weekly topics with the Vermont Atlas of Life team, however I want to encourage you all to be a part of this process. If you have a burning iNaturalist related question that you would love to see as a TTT topic, I invite you to write to me either through iNaturalist or my VCE email address. Obviously I may not be able to address every question the week that they’re submitted, but rest assured that your questions will not go unanswered!

This Week on Tech Tip Tuesday

iNaturalist is a great tool for identifying the plants, animals, and fungi photographed as you go about your outdoor adventures, but what about all of the wildlife photos you took before iNaturalist existed? Good news – you can totally add those too! That’s right, that black bear you snapped a photo of during your camping trip in 1995 can take up residence on your iNaturalist account. Along with helping you increase your number of observations, these photos can provide scientists with valuable insight into conditions and species presence at certain points in time. In some cases, historic photographs and documents serve as the only records that provide clues to past environmental conditions in a particular area. By examining these records, scientists can see how an animal, plant, or fungi’s phenology (timing of biological events, such as migration or flowering) has changed over time. This in turn helps scientists better understand how species react to climate change and other environmental disturbances in the past, and predict how they may continue to respond in the future.

Before you start posting all of your nature pictures from the past few decades, I’m going to lay out some guidelines so that they can serve as meaningful data points.

1. Make sure the date is correct. When uploading the photos, double check that the date assigned to the photo is the date you took it, not the date that you’re uploading it. You can change the date when you’re adding an observation by clicking in the box that says “date” (this is above the box that says “location”). If you don’t know the exact date, then either leave the “date” box blank or choose a day in the correct month and add a comment saying that the date is not exact. If you choose the second option, make sure to note whether the year and month are correct.

2. Make sure that the location is correct. This can be tricky. If you didn’t write down where you took the photo and it doesn’t have GPS coordinates, you may not know the exact location. Luckily, there is a way to indicate a level of uncertainty when setting an observation’s location.

To change the location, first click on the box that says “location” when adding the observation. This will take you to a page with a map. If using iNaturalist on your computer, you will have the option to type in the location and search for it (sorry mobile phone users). For either mobile phone or computer users, you can zoom in on the area of the map where you were. It’s ok if you only know what town, state, or region you were in. You will notice that your map either has a big red circle (computer users) or a black target (mobile phone users). The size of the area that these circles cover refers to the area in which you made your observation. If you know that you saw your black bear in the parking lot of Lake Dunmore State Park, then you shrink the circle so that it only encompasses the parking lot. On the other hand, if you only know that you saw the bear somewhere in Salisbury, then you make the circle large enough to cover all of Salisbury. The center of the circle is placed on the area where the bear was most likely seen and the circle size communicates to those using the data what the possible range of true observation locations were. Once you have your location circle set, click “Update Observations” (computer users) or the back arrow (mobile phone users).

A final note: please do not guess at the exact location. It’s better to have a large circle encompassing half of Vermont than to have a small circle around the wrong location.

3. Edit pictures as needed. Maybe your photo was shot when you were just learning and the image is blurry or grainy. Maybe you were interested in a different scene at the time and your observed species is on the very edge of the image. If you can, edit photos before uploading them so that the subject is as clear and obvious as possible. But even a crummy image can be an important piece of evidence, so don’t worry if it isn’t the best image.

4. Add observations for all species. It’s ok to add the same photo multiple times if there is more than one species present, as long as the date and location information is kept consistent. For information on how to do this, check out TTT #2.

TTT Task of the Week

As we find ourselves increasingly entangled in winter’s icy grip, it’s tempting to stay indoors and observe nature from a frosted window. If this sounds like your cup of tea, then I encourage you to take this time to stroll down memory lane and revisit old nature photos. Post any that you come across, even if it’s a species that seems super common. Species that are common now may not remain that way, therefore documentation is still important. Just remember to set the date and location properly. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me!

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

Publicado por emilyanderson2 emilyanderson2, 07 de enero de 2020

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