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iNaturalist is an online initiative run by Ken-ichi Ueda and Scott Loarie of the University of California Berkeley. It’s an online community where users can upload their images of biodiversity along with the location of these observations and share them with others.

The website (www.inaturalist.org) is broadly divided into six sections. The first section entitled observations, contains a log of the sightings by users of individuals of various species, along with the names of these species. Observations can also be submitted with GPS locations of the site at which the species was observed along with the date, time and place of the sighting. There is also a data quality assessment which users can vote upon to collectively work on the assessment of the quality of an observation in terms of the observation data submitted.

Users can help identify images of species that were submitted by others who could not identify them. The second section is the species section which is made up of specific description pages for species in the iNaturalist observation database. The description page contains a distribution map (made up by delineating all the countries in which observations of the species were made by users), information on the classification of the species, a list of recent observations of the species as well as integration from the specific wikipedia article for that species which completes the description. The third section deals with projects which are just a means of pooling observation data on the site based on categories such as a particular location like a national park. Projects can be started by users to encourage contribution and collection of observations for a particular shared purpose or goal (such as a research project).The fourth section is the places section which contains a page for each country with a list of the species known to be found there according to iNaturalist’s database along with other data about the country obtained through integration with other online web initiatives such as wikipedia and flickr. The fifth section deals with guides to some species of certain areas, which are developed by users themselves to help educate other users about those areas. And the final section contains information about the users/members of the site, drawing from the database of user profiles. The profiles contain information on the number of observations submitted by members as well as the curation work of users that have signed up as taxonomic curators.

INaturalist is ultimately an amazing place for people to contribute towards, share and access biodiversity data for the benefit of conservation and proves that valuable biodiversity data can be obtained, managed and maintained through the efforts of citizen scientists working together all over this world.

 

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www.inaturalist.org