We have become more familiar with the virtual world as the pandemic changed our daily activities. We shifted from going to the library, going to school, seeing friends, to a more virtual world. Lucky for us nature-lovers, we had iNaturalist to be our virtual field guide. iNaturalist helps researchers, and anyone else who spends time outside, to record and share nature observations around the world.
On iNaturalist, you can record any plant, animal or fungi you find. Each user has access to a map to see species that have been observed anywhere in the world. Biologists use the data to track species populations, whereabouts, changes over time, and more. This can help people to better understand and protect species! It has become an app used by experienced people and beginners alike, and it changed the way identification and species monitoring happens.
If you want to help contribute your observations to iNaturalist, it’s very easy! iNaturalist can be downloaded as an app on your phone or device, or accessed via the website. To use iNaturalist, simply take a photo of what you are trying to identify and upload to iNaturalist to see what species identifications it suggests. You can compare the leaves, flowers, colour, patterns, etc to make sure you have correctly identified what you’ve seen. If you aren’t sure what species you have, other users can see your observations and help you identify the species.
On iNaturalist, the Georgian Bay Biosphere has a project where you can post anything you find in the Biosphere region. Naturalists at the Biosphere use your observations to learn more about the many species in the area. The Biosphere also runs contests in which you can win prizes for participating in iNaturalist! All you have to do is join the project and make sure you post your observations to it.
Start observing in your backyard! You might be surprised at all the cool species you will find if you look closely.
Check out this iNaturalist Guide! It includes an iNaturalist scavenger hunt and some helpful tips for making observations. Make sure to post what you find on iNaturalist.