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By Melissa Rosenthal and Mormei Zanke

Admiring nature is often done in solitude (which can be blissful by itself!), but sometimes you want to share the marvels you’ve stumbled upon with a community that’s just as excited about your Chanterelle mushroom sighting as you are! That’s where iNaturalist comes in. If you are an impassioned naturalist, you may have heard of this platform that allows you to record your flora and fauna sightings, share them, and add your observations to a collection of data that can be used by biodiversity scientists. It is also a very handy identification tool on its own, and one that the NAC recommends for the most accurate species ID in the field.

Read on for how to use the tool and for tips that will make your observation reach “Research Grade” status on the platform. Meaning, your data is vetted by the community and can be entered into scientific data repositories!

Enter your observation

  1. Take clear photos
    1. Try using your hand as a background
    2. Get close
    3. Only include one species in the frame
  2. Attach multiple photos of the specimen if you can
  3. Record details on the sighting
  4. Choose a species from iNaturalist’s suggestions
  5. Upload & share!

How to get an observation to “Research Grade” status

  1. Make sure your observation has a photo
  2. Include an accurate date and location​
  3. Don’t upload a captive or cultivated organism
  4. Once uploaded, 2/3rds of the community must agree on species’ ID

We hope you consider trying this exciting field tool! Your contributions can help scientists study biodiversity across the world, and you can help spread the joy of nature sightings!

The Natural Areas Conservancy would also love to see your nature photos across NYC. Follow us on Instagram and tag us in your content for a chance to be featured on our channel!

Interested in getting out into natural areas more? Check out our upcoming events.

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