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The great diversity of iNaturalist projects

Updated: Apr 1

There are so many iNaturalist projects out there! On our Naturalist Training series webinar on 3/18/24 we explored some of them, as well as the differences between project types and how to create them. On this blog post I listed some of these projects - please add your favorite projects in the comments, and add observations to our newly created project!

Projects can help create a community, engage the public with a specific subject, and solicit observations. If you'd like to create your own project, don't forget to maintain it - help identifying observations, write journal posts, create events = create a community.

In order to add your observations (or someone else's observations) to a project, you would need to join the project first. Then it will be added to your list of projects, and you'd be able to contribute to it.

In addition to collection (i.e. BioBlitz) projects and umbrella projects, people often create projects for specific groups of organisms or locations. Some of these projects create a community around them, such as the Flies of the US and Canada, that teaches people how to identify flies on weekly webinars.

Umbrella projects include other existing projects, collection or traditional

I created a few location-based projects for local communities, such as this Open Space Authority Biodiversity project targeted to the Open Space docents, or the Coyote Creek Biodiversity project, aimed for outreach and advocacy around Coyote Creek. Please keep in mind, that you can easily filter observations by organism or location, so that often there's no need for a new project. In fact, please check if the project you had in mind already exist.

Open Space Authority Biodiversity project: polygons showing preserves managed by the organization

Other projects categorize observations by traits, such as behavior, habitat, or cause of death. You would often need to use a traditional iNaturalist project for these projects, which means that participants would need to add their observations manually to the project. There are many interesting projects that accumulate observations by behavioral traits, such as feeding behavior (Predators), interactions with other organisms (Galls of California, Backyard Pollinators Bay Area), or appearance (UV fluorescent organisms). Other projects are created in order to make it easier to identify observations - for example, projects for scat, feathers, tracks, bones and skulls. Experts can follow specific projects and help identify their observations.

Some observations from the above-mentioned feather, scat, bone, and track projects

Grouping observations by habitat can create some valuable results. For example, most people would think that arthropods are not active in cold winters. If you visit the Arthropods on Snow project, you would find 13K observations of over 700 species! You can also find out who found bears in their compost bin, or what you might find in a cow patty. Researchers often create projects for specific studies - our Newt Patrol study, deadly algae bloom, or the health of our ocean are just a few examples. Research project can accumulate a lot of data - the project Never Home Alone has been collecting observations of organisms documented in homes since 2018. The researchers recently released a fascinating analysis of their data.

iNaturalist observation abundance in the Never Home Alone project. Source.

Some projects can accumulate important data for advocacy. There are a few projects for dead animals from different taxonomical groups, others are categorized by the cause of death - Bird-Window Collisions, Global Roadkill Observations, and Killed by Domestic Cats are just a few examples.

Many projects accumulate observations that are unusual in one way or another - unusual organisms - Albino & Leucistic Birds, Amazing Aberrants, Fascinating Fasciation; or unusual structures - ARThropod, or Animal Architecture made by animals. Or simply - Beach Blobs!

Here are some noteworthy projects -

  • Amazing Aberrants

  • Animal Architecture

  • ARThropod

  • Arthropods on snow

  • Ask a Lichenologist

  • Backyard Pollinators Bay Area

  • Beach Blobs

  • Coyote Creek Biodiversity

  • Dock Fouling in California

  • Fascinating Fasciation

  • Flies of the US and Canada

  • Found Feathers

  • Funny common names

  • Galls of California

  • Gall Week

  • Global Roadkill Observations

  • Home Compost Exploration

  • Killed by Domestic Cats

  • Life in cow pats of the world

  • Microscopy

  • Mimic Gallery

  • Mystery Oak Leaf Skeletonizer

  • Never Home Alone: The Wild Life of Homes + analysis

  • North American Animal Tracks Database

  • Open Space Authority Biodiversity

  • Pacific Newt Roadkill (Main Project)

  • Predators

  • Scatology

  • Seeds and Fruit

  • Serpentine Plants of the Western United States

  • Skulls and Bones

  • Snapshot Cal Coast 2023

  • The Butt End Of Nature

  • The Pot Fouling Project

  • U.S. Terrestrial Nature and Plastic

  • UV fluorescent organisms

  • WeirdWildWonders

What are your favorite projects? please add them in the comments!

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Oscar Mace
Oscar Mace
ápr. 03.

Being a member of the Newt Patrol, I've learned so much in such a short time. Initially motivated to join and learn about the biology of newts, where and how they live. Death is a natural life cycle and the fact these urban newt specimens incurred an unnatural death became an inspiration for my grassroots activism. With each survey of Alma Bridge Road, its roadside ecology began to unfold and its untold natural history became alive as a backdrop to the curtain of urban ecology . I learned how years of previous grassroots efforts of this community of citizen scientists successfully engaged important stakeholders to develop management techniques to lessen roadkill incidents. I was further encouraged after reading Agenda…

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