2020年十一月06日

On a Mission to Find a Rare Cactus in Mexico - (Belated) Observation of the Week, 11/6/20

[It took a few weeks for Mané to get back to me, so I’m posting this a bit late. - Tony]

Our (belated) Observation of the Week is this Aztekium valdezii (Biznaga Piedra de la Sierra Madre Oriental en Espa?ol) cactus, seen in Mexico by @manesalinas!

A biologist specializing in plants of the mountains of northeastern Mexico, Mané Salinas Rodríguez also teaches and works at the Jerzy Rzedowski Herbarium at the Universidad Autónoma de Querétaro. Growing up in the city of Monterrey, she credits both of her parents for her interest in nature. Her mother bought her nature books (including quite a few about dinosaurs), and her father often took her to the surrounding mountains. “And from there,” she says, “my interest in studying biology was born.”

Mané encourages her students to use iNaturalist, and she herself logs her interesting and rare plant finds, including the tiny Aztekium valdezii cactus you see here. A tiny (6 cm) slow-growing endemic plant, it’s restricted to canyons and ravines in a small mountainous area of the mountains in the state of Nuevo Léon. She found it back in 2015 when studying for her PhD on the endemic vascular plants from the Sierra Madre Oriental mountains. “One of the objectives,” she says,?

was to document the geographical coordinates of the largest number of vascular plant species in that mountainous area, in order to make niche modeling maps on MaxEnt and thus predict what were the diversity hotspots and subsequently detect possible areas of conservation.

However, because Aztekium valdezii was rare and accessible data on it is difficult to come by, she was on her own. Determined, she and her colleagues explored, with the help of her Jeep "El Humboldt", multiple potential sites with no luck. It was only on the third attempt, while nursing a rough hangover, that she found her quarry.

“The sun was very strong and my head was pounding, but my desire to find the Aztekium was greater than the pain,” Mané (above) recalls,?

[But] I had a feeling that I was going to be lucky so I walked along a canyon wall that seemed ideal as an habitat and finally after a while, I found it and my surprise was greater when I saw it with a flower!

I will never forget the feeling of happiness of having found it on my own, only following the clues of its habitat and without help or data.

發帖時間: 2020年06十一月日 09:52 下午tiwane tiwane | 14 評論 | 留下評論

2020年十一月04日

Tallying Amphibians from the United States, Canada, and Mexico

Our recent post about reaching 300,000 species raised some interesting questions about how long it will take for iNaturalist to log all species for various groups in various locations. This is difficult to do for many groups and locations because of taxonomic issues. One group that’s fairly well known, at least in North America, is amphibians. The number of amphibian species observed on iNaturalist in the United States, Canada, and Mexico does seem to be saturating.

But how many species remain? We wrote a post on this for Amphibians in the United States three years ago and counted 13 missing species. We re-crunched these numbers again for the United States as well as Canada and Mexico which together make up the three most observose countries on iNaturalist.

In the United States, all but one of those missing 13 species has been found. We now count that 316 of 318 species thought to occur in the United States are represented on iNaturalist by at least one verifiable observation. The two missing species are Blanco Blind Salamander (Eurycea robusta) and Reticulated Siren (Siren reticulata). The former is only known from a single specimen found in Texas 40 years ago and the latter is a species recently described from Georgia and Alabama two years ago.

In Canada, we count that all 48 of 48 species thought to occur in Canada are represented on iNaturalist by at least one verifiable observation. We’re counting these based on observations anywhere in the world, not just in Canada, and there are no amphibian species endemic to Canada (i.e. found nowhere else in the world) so this makes sense given our numbers from the United States.

In Mexico, only 300 of 424 species are represented on iNaturalist (71%). While there are fewer observations from Mexico than the United States on iNaturalist, this is also driven by a large number of Mexican species with extremely small ranges. Many are only known from one or two sites.

For example, in the State of Tamaulipas 3 species that haven’t been observed on iNaturalist occur. All three are endemic to Mexico. They are:
Graceful Splayfoot Salamander (Chiropterotriton cracens)
Tamaulipan Arboreal Robber Frog (Craugastor batrachylus)
Dennis' Chirping Frog (Eleutherodactylus dennisi)

Tamaulipan Arboreal Robber Frog (Craugastor batrachylus) is also found in Querétaro where it represents the only species that occurs in Querétaro that hasn't yet been observed. Chihuahua, Morelos, Distrito Federal and Tlaxcala also each have one species that hasn't been observed. They are:
Lemos-Espinal's Leopard Frog (Lithobates lemosespinali) (Chihuahua)
Morelos False Brook Salamander (Pseudoeurycea altamontana) (Morelos & Distrito Federal)
Roberts's Tree Frog (Sarcohyla robertsorum) (Tlaxcala)
Jalisco has four species that haven't been observed. Two of them can also be found in Colima. They are:
Jalisco Trilling Frog (Eleutherodactylus jaliscoensis)
Sierra Manatlán Trilling Frog (Eleutherodactylus manantlanensis)
Colima Shiny Peeping Frog (Eleutherodactylus orarius)
Sierra Huichol Peeping Frog (Eleutherodactylus wixarika)

In Hidalgo, we can also find Roberts's Tree Frog (Sarcohyla robertsorum) as well as the following three species:
Cave Splayfoot Salamander (Chiropterotriton mosaueri)
Least Chirping Frog (Eleutherodactylus verruculatus)
Puebla Tree Frog (Sarcohyla charadricola)

While we are missing no species from some states like Sonora and Sinaloa, 6 other states have more than 5 missing species. These states tend to be in the mountainous tropical parts of the country and are as follows:

Michoacán (6 species):
Ambystoma amblycephalum
Eleutherodactylus erendirae
Eleutherodactylus floresvillelai
Eleutherodactylus nietoi
Eleutherodactylus orarius
Lithobates dunni

Puebla (10 species):
Chiropterotriton casasi
Craugastor galacticorhinus
Eleutherodactylus verruculatus
Lithobates pueblae
Megastomatohyla nubicola
Sarcohyla charadricola
Thorius dubitus
Thorius magnipes
Thorius maxillabrochus
Thorius schmidti

Veracruz (16 species):
Aquiloeurycea praecellens
Chiropterotriton casasi
Chiropterotriton nubilus
Chiropterotriton perotensis
Chiropterotriton totonacus
Ecnomiohyla valancifer
Eleutherodactylus verruculatus
Isthmura corrugata
Lithobates chichicuahutla
Megastomatohyla nubicola
Pseudoeurycea granitum
Sarcohyla pachyderma
Sarcohyla siopela
Thorius dubitus
Thorius magnipes
Thorius narismagnus

Chiapas (12 species):
Charadrahyla chaneque
Craugastor amniscola
Craugastor brocchi
Craugastor matudai
Craugastor pozo
Craugastor taylori
Dendrotriton megarhinus
Dendrotriton rabbi
Exerodonta chimalapa
Plectrohyla pycnochila
Pseudoeurycea brunnata
Ptychohyla dendrophasma

Guerrero (19 species):
Bolitoglossa coaxtlahuacana
Craugastor uno
Eleutherodactylus erythrochomus
Exerodonta melanomma
Incilius cycladen
Pseudoeurycea ahuitzotl
Pseudoeurycea amuzga
Pseudoeurycea kuautli
Pseudoeurycea mixcoatl
Pseudoeurycea tenchalli
Pseudoeurycea teotepec
Quilticohyla erythromma
Sarcohyla chryses
Sarcohyla floresi
Sarcohyla mykter
Sarcohyla toyota
Thorius grandis
Thorius hankeni
Thorius infernalis

Oaxaca (39 species):
Bolitoglossa oaxacensis
Bolitoglossa riletti
Charadrahyla chaneque
Charadrahyla esperancensis
Craugastor polymniae
Craugastor silvicola
Craugastor uno
Ecnomiohyla echinata
Exerodonta chimalapa
Exerodonta melanomma
Ixalotriton parvus
Megastomatohyla mixe
Megastomatohyla pellita
Pseudoeurycea anitae
Pseudoeurycea aquatica
Pseudoeurycea obesa
Pseudoeurycea orchileucos
Pseudoeurycea papenfussi
Pseudoeurycea smithi
Pseudoeurycea unguidentis
Sarcohyla calvicollina
Sarcohyla celata
Sarcohyla cembra
Sarcohyla crassa
Sarcohyla cyanomma
Sarcohyla cyclada
Sarcohyla labedactyla
Sarcohyla miahuatlanensis
Sarcohyla psarosema
Sarcohyla sabrina
Thorius aureus
Thorius boreas
Thorius insperatus
Thorius longicaudus
Thorius minutissimus
Thorius narisovalis
Thorius pinicola
Thorius pulmonaris
Thorius tlaxiacus

This exercise is a reminder that in tropical regions such as many of Mexican states, its not just that there are often more species than in temperate regions but that many species often have much smaller ranges. As a result, observing them requires observations from all corners of the country. We're fortunate to have many very knowledgeable Mexican amphibian identifiers (e.g. @cris-tzabcan, @coatzin_tutor, @yamaneko, @eligarcia-padilla, @opuntia24, @josecamx, @pedro_nahuat, @jhvaldez_tutor, @lucareptile, @rene_vela, @sonoran) and observers who have seen many Mexican amphibian species (e.g. @alejandrocalzada, @juancruzado, @eligarcia-padilla, @wouterbeukema, @pedro_nahuat, @jesusrc7, @horacio_barcenas, @el_neotropico, @esauvaldenegro, @alejandromijangosbetanzos, @oscarleonardo32, @sandboa, @cris-tzabcan, @dianafr) participating in iNaturalist/Naturalista.mx. It will be interesting to see how much longer it takes to find these missing Mexican amphibian species.

發帖時間: 2020年04十一月日 01:18 上午loarie loarie | 18 評論 | 留下評論

2020年十一月02日

This Microscopic Ciliate Was Found on a Copepod in France - Observation of the Week, 11/2/20

Our Observation of the Week is this Trichodina domerguei ciliate, seen in France by @plingfactory!

“Taking samples for a microscope is like a surprise bag,” says Michael Plewka, “you never know what you will find!” Focused on marine biology and coral ecology in college, Michael is now a high school teacher in western Germany and has changed his area of study from marine to limnic life thanks to an artificial pond he and his students monitor. “So now I am studying the life? of small organisms living in water, soil and mosses in Germany and other European countries,” he tells me, and he works with other microscopy enthusiasts at organizations like Berliner Mikroskopische Gesellschaft.

And of course when Michael travels, the microscope equipment comes along. “Whenever I have holidays my focus is either on looking for small critters in tropical marine environments,” he says, “or taking my microscope somewhere and watching the organisms that I can find.”

You can find the most interesting organisms in the most boring environments where you don't expect to be life at all, like for example old industrial buildings. The vicinity of a nearby-airport in our region has some of the most fascinating and rare microscopic organisms.

In May of 2014, while on holiday in France’s Bretagne (Brittany) region, he took a plankton sample from a pond in the city of Bourg-Blanc. “The pond itself was not very spectacular,

[but] interestingly enough it turned out that there were similar organisms (same genera) as in ponds in Germany, but different species. And then I found some small critters moving around a copepod. I knew from our observations in our school pond that a similar protist (Trichodina pediculus) lives as a parasite on Hydra.?

While he didn’t have the correct literature with him at the time (rotifers are his specialty), Michael later identified the tiny ciliate as Trichodina domerguei, based on its number of denticles. Like other members of this genus, Trichodina domerguei attaches itself to a host (often fish) which it uses primarily as a substrate - its mouth faces out. Usually the ciliates don't harm their hosts, but they certainly can, especially if they attach to a sensitive part of the animal. You can check out Michael’s photo of the copepod host here.?

Michael (above, in The Netherlands) joined iNat at the urging of his colleague @rotiferologist, and has since been helping others identify their rotifer observations. “Taking adequate images from such small organisms is not that easy, so it is also not always easy to ID the specimens based on these photos alone, especially when it comes to the species level,” he says, “[but] thanks to the ever increasing power of smartphones which can be used at a microscope the situation might get better in the future.”

To Michael, “iNaturalist is a chance to communicate with people? who are interested in nature from all over the world.?

In times where it is necessary to be conscious of the fact that the activities of people on one continent have an effect on the life of people on other continents, iNaturalist is a great tool to connect people and to see that like-minded people are working together.


- Take a look at Michael's other photos on his website!

- Michael recommends this website as an excellent resource for identifying protists.

發帖時間: 2020年02十一月日 11:10 下午tiwane tiwane | 7 評論 | 留下評論

2020年十月29日

A Mountaineer in Chile Records an Alpine Plant - (Belated) Observation of the Week, 9/14/20

[It took a few weeks for Gabriela to get back to me, so I’m posting this a bit late. - Tony]

Our (Belated) Observation of the Week is this Nassauvia pinnigera, seen in Chile by @gabyriela!

At the tail end of 2019, Gabriela Alejandra Anríquez Mauricio and her friends journeyed to the Volcán San José complex, about 90 km from Santiago, Chile. “It was the best gift I had last year,” she says. “[To] share that beautiful experience with four friends in the mountains, see its amazing nature (flora, a mysteriously large number of grasshoppers, birds, highland wetlands, penitent-shaped snows…).”?

And one member of that amazing flora is the plant you see above, Nassauvia pinnigera. A member of Family Asteraceae (sunflowers, daisies, and the like), this species grows at high elevations over 3,000 m (9,800 ft). I couldn’t find out too much about the species (if you have something to add, please do so in the comments!), but check out this photo of Gabriela photographing it below.

Gabriela studied environmental biology at Universidad de Chile, where her thesis work analyzed the risk of harmful algal blooms in Chiloé, an island off of southern Chile. And while she’s proud of the important work she did, she also says?

It still feels too far from nature and nature investigation (biology and ecology), involving a lot of literature reading and computer work, and little in the field.

For now I have been going outside with the intention of learning to identify what I see and hear and capture them in photographs (I have been learning photography) or recordings, and participating in a mountaineering club RAMUCH, [for which I am currently serving as Vice President].

Two of her friends, Daniela Pérez and Ariel Cabrera, introduced Gabriela (above) to iNaturalist, and while she’s only just started to post observations, she says “I'm really thankful to them because [iNaturalist incentivizes] sharing and sorting the observations that one has made in the field...iNaturalist and photography have been a great discovery for me, because I can see and learn deeper and share things I love with people who love them too.”

(Photos of Gabriela: Juan Pablo Cajigal (top) and Valentina Guevara (below))


- Take a gander at other observations of Nassauvia plants!

- Check out a past Observation of the Week of another beautiful Chilean flower growing out of rocks!

發帖時間: 2020年29十月日 09:58 下午tiwane tiwane | 12 評論 | 留下評論

2020年十月27日

A new kind of life list

We’re announcing a new way to explore your life list on iNaturalist. To explore the new tool, navigate to your lists and click on 'View My Life List' in the banner.

When you first open the Life List tool, the left panel has a list of all the taxa you’ve observed, organized by category. Note that each entry on your list isn’t necessarily a species but what we call “leaves,” meaning the finest taxonomic ranks represented by your observations (down to species). For example, if you observed a Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes), and some kind of oak (genus Quercus), that would be two “leaves.” That’s why you might see genera listed alongside species. (Forgive us when we sometimes use the word “species” to avoid jargon when we really mean leaves.) The plain numbers next to each row represent the number of observations at or below that node. The numbers in the green circles represent the number of observations at exactly that taxonomic rank and not at a finer rank (ignoring subspecies). We’ll discuss the controls on the left side above the list later.

On the right panel you’ll see this same set of taxonomic leaves in grid form sorted by number of observations. If you change the “Sort” button on the right side to “taxonomic” the grid in the right panel will show the same entries in the same order as the list on the left panel.

If you click the “Observations” button on the right side, you’ll see the individual observations behind these species ordered by date added.

If you click on any name on the list in the left hand side, the species grid on the right hand side will restrict to just that taxon or category. You can also navigate around your list by entering a taxon in the search bar on the left side or choosing one of the iconic taxa.

If you click on one of the numbers on the left hand side, the right hand panel will be populated with the corresponding observations. Similarly, clicking on numbers in green circles will populate the right hand panel only with observations sitting at that node (e.g. excluding descendants).

The place filter on the right hand side will display only results from observations made in that place.

The “Unobserved Species” button will populate the right panel with species not on your life list that have been observed by others, either globally or within the selected place.

The “Export” button will export your life list in CSV format.

The “Tree View” button on the left hand side replaces the simplified list (grouped by selected categories) with a fuller taxonomic hierarchy. It excludes some ranks by default, but you can use the “View" button to toggle to the “Full taxonomy” if you’d like. In “Tree View,” clicking on the elements in the tree will expand and collapse the tree while the leaf (or binocular) icon focuses the right hand panel.

We hope you enjoy this new tool. If you want to support the development of new features like this, donations are always appreciated. Today, we've only added new functionality and haven't changed any existing functionality, but you can learn more about how this fits into future changes we’re making to existing list functionality on iNaturalist including original life lists here.

發帖時間: 2020年27十月日 09:17 下午loarie loarie | 81 評論 | 留下評論

Upcoming Changes to Lists

The the new life list tool we released today is completely separate from the existing list functionality on iNaturalist and the original entity known as a life list (from here on “original life list” to avoid confusion). Here, we describe how these existing lists work and some changes we’re planning to improve scalability as iNaturalist grows.

Part of the reason why the existing list functionality on iNaturalist is so complicated is that lists are used for many different things. For example, there are normal user lists, original life lists, traditional project lists, default place check lists, and other place check lists. We’ll describe these different kinds of lists in turn and how they act differently. But let’s start with the most straightforward and simplest kind: the normal user list.

Normal User Lists
A great example of a normal user list is the favorite taxa list you can display on your profile. To do this, you create a list called “Favorites” and add some taxa to it.

The taxa added to a list are stored in records called “listed taxa.” Each listed taxon has a description and comments and keeps track of “observation stats” which include the number of times you’ve observed the species and links to the first and last observation. The latter allows you to do things like filter the listed taxa that haven’t been observed.

Normal user lists are in many ways analogous to Guides on iNaturalist. They serve as ways for a user to create and maintain a list of taxa that (aside from the observation stats) don’t interact with observations.

Original Life Lists

When you create a normal user list, you have the option to “Make it a life list.” Checking this box means that the list will create listed taxa for any observation you’ve made. If you restrict to a higher-level taxon and/or a place (e.g. “Brazil Frogs”), it will only create listed taxa from observations of that taxon in that place.

You can still manually create and destroy listed taxa on original life lists independently of listed taxa being automatically created from your observations. And issues with original life lists being out of sync with observations has been a persistent point of confusion. Let's call this automatic listed taxa creation from observations functionality “auto-listing functionality” for short.

Traditional Project Lists

Traditional projects have a “must be on list” rule which is really just a shortcut for many “must be in taxon” rules. In fact, in the newer collection projects, we no longer bother with these lists and just allow users to add many “include taxa” project rules. Nonetheless, we still support traditional projects and thus still support traditional project lists to facilitate this ‘must be on list’ rule. They behave exactly like normal user lists (i.e. no auto-listing functionality) except that the observation stats are filled from observations in the project rather than observations made by the user.

Default Place Check Lists

When you create a place, you have the option to mark “check lists allowed”. Doing so will create a default check list for the place. Place check lists behave very much like original life lists in that they include auto-listing functionality from research grade observations made within the place. Likewise, people can manually create and destroy listed taxa independent of the observations made in the place. The observation stats are filled by observations made within the place.

Listed taxa on place check lists also store “establishment means” (e.g. native/introduced) for species in that place which is used throughout the site. Likewise, the listed taxa on standard place default checklists also determine the "presence places" in an atlas. The existence of an atlas for a species disables auto-listing functionality for that species on default checklists.

Other Place Check lists

In addition to the default place check list, places can have other check lists. They can be restricted to a higher-level taxon and they can be marked as “comprehensive” from the list edit page to indicate that all species in that higher-level taxon for the place are included in the list. Like the default place checklist, they also have auto-listing functionality.

Problems with Lists and Proposed changes

The two major problems with lists are that functionality to track observation stats and auto-listing functionality aren’t scaling well, meaning that as iNaturalist continues to grow the server requests this functionality generates are bogging down the performance of the site.

We’ve reviewed lists on iNaturalist and have determined that they basically serve two separate use cases:

1. The ability to view a set of observations in species list form

2. The ability to maintain a reference list of species (independent from observations) to add context to and compare with observations (e.g. establishment means, atlases, etc.)

We think we can better serve use case 1 with new dynamic tools viewing observations in list form like the new Life List tool we’re unveiling today. We plan to build an analogous new Place Check List tool to view the species observed in a place in list form. This will allow us to remove the problematic auto-listing functionality from all lists so that they can be more focused on serving use case 2: acting as an independent reference list to add context to observations.

We also plan to remove observation stats from listed taxa. We realize that this will remove functionality to compare what species on a list have been observed and which haven’t been observed - this is, for example, what controls the color (green means observed and yellow means unobserved) of the check list places on taxon maps. But, if there is demand for this kind of functionality to compare a list with a set of observations, we think we can build more scalable functionality to do so rather than the existing observation stats.

To be clear, we're not planning to remove any existing listed taxa. We are only planning to disable the auto-listing functionality and the functionality that maintains observations stats on listed taxa.

Here’s our proposed roll out of these changes:

Phase 1 (today):
Launch new dynamic life list tool

Phase 2 (next few weeks):
Remove original life lists (they will become normal user lists)
Remove observation stats from normal user lists and traditional project lists

Phase 3 (sometime in the next few months):
Launch new dynamic place check list tool

Phase 4 (sometime in the next few months):
Remove auto-listing functionality and observation stats from place check lists
Remove other place check lists (they will become normal user lists, leaving only a single optional default place check list for each place)

發帖時間: 2020年27十月日 09:17 下午loarie loarie | 9 評論 | 留下評論

A South African Nature Guide Spots a Bulb Baroe Plant - Observation of the Week, 10/27/20

Our Observation of the Week is this Cyphia bulbosa var. bulbosa plant, seen in South Africa by @trosoa!

Johan October grew up in South Africa, and as a child his uncle would take Johan and his cousin on weekend walks in the mountains. “He was always fascinated by all the flowers and plants and everything around him,” recalls Johan. He would tell the boys plant names and various medicinal uses for them.?

Being a boy of about eleven or twelve years old, I always thought in my mind, "Uncle, you're crazy!!! All the flowers and plants look the same to me, I don’t want to know this..." Little did I know, that what he introduced me to would one day become my interest, my passion, my love, my job.

Yes, Johan now works as a professional mountain guide and knows quite a bit about the Fynbos - knowledge which he then teaches to the guests who visit. He spotted the Cyphia bulbosa var. bulbosa plant in a special area of Table Mountain which requires a permit. Unfortunately his guests canceled, but he took some friends to the area and they were pretty excited to explore it. The plant was one of nineteen observations Johan made that day, and he said he want right to it when he spotted it. It was the first observation of this species in that restricted area in five years!

“Today I'm using iNaturalist for reference to any living organism in our area, as well as South Africa,” says Johan (above). “I consider myself as conservationist and a protector of the Natural world. If i could do more to preserve, protect and look after our planet, I MOST DEFINITELY WILL do so!!”


- Johan leads some of the tours listed here.

- The species Cyphia bulbosa is commonly known as bulb baroe, but unfortunately I can’t find too much information about the species or genus online. If anyone has cool facts about this plant, please share in the comments!

發帖時間: 2020年27十月日 06:53 下午tiwane tiwane | 7 評論 | 留下評論

2020年十月22日

In Colombia, Former Guerillas Use iNaturalist to Record Biodiversity

For over five decades, the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia—Ejército del Pueblo (FARC) guerilla group waged a civil war in Colombia. After FARC signed a ceasefire in 2016, there was an opportunity to explore and survey the biodiverse regions the group had occupied, and the need to incorporate thousands of guerrillas into Colombian society.?

The initiative GROW Colombia, supported by the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF-UK),? is working to sustainably develop “Colombia’s agri-industry and bio-economy for the benefit of the Colombian people,” and they are collaborating with Jaime Gonogora (@jaimegongora), an Associate Professor at the University of Sydney and native Colombian. Professor Góngora has been working with the former guerrillas to conduct biodiversity surveys of the areas they occupied, and is using iNaturalist as one of the tools in their work.

I recently spoke with Professor Góngora (above) via Zoom about his work with the former guerrillas and how they are using iNaturalist.?

Jaime Góngora grew up in the mountains of Colombia and, after moving to Bogotá, had to work to pay for his university education, becoming the first in his family to graduate from college. “I wasn’t the most talented student at all,” he says, “[but] I knew that I loved biology. I wanted to become an academic, a scientist, [and] conserve nature.” He credits meeting Chris Moran and Frank Nicholas of the University of Sydney, who were doing genetics work, and

They said to me “We don’t think you’re ready yet, but what if we offer you a multi-year plan and you can come and work with us.” I didn’t believe them but I didn’t see a lot of possibilities in Colombia, I knocked doors everywhere. I stuck to [their] plan, and I was able to apply for a scholarship in 1999.

Jaime has since settled in Sydney, where he now has a family and is advising students of his own. One of them was working in the United Kingdom and connected him with the GROW Colombia initiative, which is directed by Professor Federica Di Palma. He started working with them on programs for academics, but tells me “I realized that something was missing there.

I said OK, I have these ideas. I already had some experiences in Colombia working with communities, I knew a little bit about the history, about the situation, and I said we can do this with these combatants. What’s simple but powerful is we can empower these combatants to know and understand nature, so they can contribute to science in doing inventories of biodiversity but actually using that for ecotourism...they are undertaking in remote areas of Colombia as part of the reincorporation into society.?

The program, called Peace with Nature*, came together over the period of about eighteen months. Much of this preparation involved building a network of Colombian scientists and researchers who could help, as Jaime wanted the former combatants to build relationships not only with him but with a community of scientists in the country. As they started to design workshops and trainings, they made sure to not only teach standard methods of taking inventories (including using binoculars for wildlife, “which they had [previously] only used to look at enemies [with]”) but to combine that with the former combatants’ deep traditional knowledge of the environment they’d lived in for decades. For example, some former guerrillas have pointed out the differences between two plants that a scientist thought were the same species.?

Training also included how-tos for iNaturalist, and iNat’s partner in Colombia, Instituto Humboldt, has been supporting Peace with Nature. Each survey team included a group who were taking photos for iNaturalist, and when they returned to the villages, they uploaded their finds to iNat. Jaime tells me they plan to curate the observations, and that at least one former guerrilla, @ricardosemillas, has really taken to iNat.?

These are only the first steps of course, and the group envisions engaging future ecotourists with iNat as well. “[The former guerrillas will] go and...show them the attractions..and the tourists can take pictures so we will be encouraging tourists to increase the participatory inventories through iNaturalist. In that way, tourists become citizen scientists and increase the inventories [in the area],” says Jaime.?

While the entire endeavor is clearly close to his heart, Jaime is especially proud of the progress he’s observed when it comes to former enemies bonding over nature. Due to security issues, Colombian military and police - who not too long ago were fighting the guerrillas - accompanied the group and Jaime recalls?

I saw an opportunity in particular with the police being close to us, and I said “Hey, come here, you can be involved,” and I have pictures of the guerillas teaching children from schools and the police how to use iNaturalist...In the last workshop we have the first member of the military officially being part of the inventories.

People think sometimes to see the negative aspects of people. My tendency is to see the positive aspects of people. What is positive there that we can use to connect people to a change in behavior that could be transformational for the purpose of your project, in this case conserving nature and reincorporating people into society...iNaturalist is contributing to empower people to do transformational and positive change and to global peace.


- There are a few other articles about this program, check them out here, here, and here.

- And a nice video about the program here. It’s in Spanish and English. As an English speaker, I’ve found that if I turn on captions then, in the gear icon, choose Auto Translate and English, it’s actually pretty understandable. I imagine it works well for other languages too.


* Jaime wants to note that Peace with Nature has been a collaborative project in which he has engaged more than 10 academic, research and government institutions including the Amazonian Scientific Research Institute SINCHI, ECOMUN, ARN, UniAmazonia, and the UN Verification Mission.

Photos courtesy of Jaime Góngora.

發帖時間: 2020年22十月日 09:28 下午tiwane tiwane | 18 評論 | 留下評論

2020年十月19日

A Unique Look at a Unique Wasp Cocoon - Observation of the Week, 10/19/20

Our Observation of the Week is this Praon wasp pupa (and its aphid host), seen in the United Kingdom by @lee_1978!

“Though it would be great to be able to regale you with a story of trekking for miles into the wilds,” says Lee Ismail, a Curator of Natural Sciences at Brighton Museums in the United Kingdom, “the story behind the observation is fairly mundane and is possibly the most comfortable nature observation possible!” While at home, Lee walked past his window and noticed the strange structure and organism you see above.?

Initially thinking it was the underside of a tiny snail, I noticed wings as I passed, causing me to pause and take a closer look. That's when I noticed that it was an aphid of some sort, but was stuck to the window with a suction cup shaped structure, tied down with fine silk strands.

He originally posted it to iNat with an ID of Animalia, but after doing a quick search on “Aphid with suction cup structure”, he saw it was the pupa of the wasp genus Praon, a member of the Subfamily?Aphidiinae, which all parasitize aphids. A few other iNat users agreed, and @haukekoch provided a link to this paper describing a species in the genus, Praon volucre, which is fascinating.?

According to author Bryan P. Beirne, female wasps oviposit on aphids or on anything that resembles an aphid. The larva eats its host from the inside, and by its fourth instar usually kills its host,

and as a result of its consuming the decaying parts of the Aphis the alimentary tract of the larva, which in previous instars is greenish or greyish, becomes dark brown in this and the following instars and so the larva becomes visible through the integument of the Aphis.

When it reaches its fifth instar, the larva cuts open a hole in the aphid body and spins its suction cup-like cocoon, where it pupates. This is usually attached to a leaf, but in the case of Lee’s observation, it attached itself to his window, giving us a glimpse into its underside! As Lee says, “[this find] does neatly demonstrate that there is fascinating nature all around us though (we're always trying to convince visitors of this at the museum!)”

One of only two people specifically based in caring for the natural history collections at the Royal Pavilion and Museums Trust, Brighton, Lee (below) says?

we don't have much time to carry out our own research, and our input into research is in assisting those who use our collections for their research. Most recently this has included DNA sampling for king cheetahs, determining population genetics for Peregrine Falcon populations in Southern England and identifying new species of lepidoptera from British Guiana.

He’s also been working on his nature photography skills, particularly macro photography of late, both to illustrate work-related blog posts and, since being furloughed, “I have continued to photograph nature for the pure pleasure of enjoying the natural world!”

Since starting on iNat in this year’s City Nature Challenge, Lee, who grew up in Southern England, Malaysia and Oman, tells me

Though I'd used similar sites in the past, I found iNaturalist to be really user friendly, and so I continued to post observations after the CNC2020 had finished. Initially I started recording observations I'd made on visits around the world as well as at home in the UK. Since then I've recorded regular observations I've made both at home and on walks around Southern England during travel restrictions and furlough.?

iNaturalist hasn't changed how I see the natural world, but it has changed how I interact with it. I'd always noted where I'd observed interesting nature but hadn't recorded those observations anywhere accessible to the wider community…

Whilst I have no idea what the data may eventually be used for, it is gratifying to see observations made on vacation being added to projects such as Kea Monitoring (http://www.gyyanshan.com.cn/observations/44099262) or US Federally and Endangered Species (http://www.gyyanshan.com.cn/observations/44102776) projects. The site is also great at seeing just how many different species I've seen over the years.


Here’s a wasp ovipositing on an aphid, although I personally can’t confirm whether it’s an adult Praon or not. Pretty cool, though!

發帖時間: 2020年19十月日 09:37 下午tiwane tiwane | 13 評論 | 留下評論

2020年十月13日

We passed 300,000 species observed on iNaturalist!!

It’s interesting to compare this number with the total numbers of species that we think are out there. Most agree that there are around 2 million species with names and that many more species exist that haven’t yet been named. We use IUCN’s numbers from 2010 which tally 1,740,330 species of plants, animals and fungi. Using this denominator, iNaturalist has now censused about 17% of all named species.

The figure below shows this split out by taxonomic category. Each square represents 1,000 species. There are 1,740 total squares and 300 green squares representing the subset observed on iNaturalist.

Most of the species on iNaturalist represent plants and insects but these are also the most speciose groups. In fact, even though the same number of plant and insect species have been observed on iNaturalist (roughly 100,000 each), this represents a much smaller fraction of the total insect diversity (11%) versus the total plant diversity (33%).

The group with the smallest percentage of species observed was Arachnids (8%) and the four terrestrial vertebrate groups (birds, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals) were the only groups with greater than 50% observed. The denominators are probably underestimated as new species have been described since these IUCN numbers were released in 2010, but these percentages are likely not too far off.

In addition to thinking about how many species we’ve observed on iNaturalist, it’s interesting to consider how quickly we’re accumulating new species. The graphs below show the numbers of species observed on iNaturalist over time. The graph on the left is for North American Birds and the graph on the right is for South American Fish. For North American Birds, we do seem to be reaching a plateau (i.e. we've running out of missing species). In fact, over the last 12 months we’ve averaged 19,696 North American Bird observations for each new species tallied. In contrast, for South American Fish the number of species does not seem to be plateauing at all. Over the last 12 months we’ve tallied a new species for every 14 observations of South American Fish added on average.

Here’s the species groups and continents (e.g. South American Fish) where we’ve averaged fewer than 100 observations to tally a new species sorted by this obs/sp stat. Underrepresented groups like fishes and mollusks are over represented in this subset as are continents like South America and Africa.

These are the species groups and continents where we’ve averaged more than 100 and fewer than 1,000 observations to tally a new species.

Lastly, these are the species groups and continents where we’re averaging over 1,000 observations to log a new species. Here, North America and Europe dominate alongside over represented groups like birds and other terrestrial vertebrates.

To tally a new species on iNaturalist, several things have to happen: we need observations from that taxonomic group and location to be posted, the images must reveal enough detail for the species to be identified, and someone with the skills, time, and interest needs to provide an identification. There are steps you can do at each point in this process to increase the overall rate.

To generate more observations, spend some time observing taxa in places you don’t normally visit. If you focus mainly on terrestrial vertebrates, try observing some fish and invertebrates. Invest in some gear to attract or capture creatures you don’t normally encounter like a moth light or aquatic sampling gear or a macro lens for your phone. Try to get others observing by organizing a bioblitz.

To increase the probability your observations will be identified, do your best to take identifiable photos. If you are an identifier specializing in a certain group, write a journal post to encourage people to pay attention to the characters you know are important. Also, engage with observers. Often they can relocate the critter and take photos of the characters you want as in this exchange between @agapakisnikos and @naufalurfi:

Lastly, to help grow the expertise needed to identify species, consider investing in becoming a more active identifier yourself. Pick a location or taxonomic group (or both) to specialize in. Dig into the scientific literature and learn the jargon for the museum characters the literature tends to focus on. Learn how to follow a dichotomous key and interpret a taxonomic description for your group. Sites like research gate and sci-hub provide access to an increasing number of papers. Don’t be afraid to learn from the community. Ask identifiers how they were able to identify particular observations you want to learn from. If they provide information and references try to understand them and see if you come to the same conclusion. If you can’t, explain where you’re stuck and ask for help. Encourage people you know with expertise to join iNaturalist and share their knowledge.

Of the 54,000 datasets tracked by the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, the most speciose is the Smithsonian Natural History Museum dataset with about 500,000 species represented. Based on the rates of growth in new species on iNaturalist and the relatively large percentages of species we’re still missing for most locations and groups, I expect we will also pass this 500,000 milestone in the next two years or so. But as more and more of the common species are observed, maintaining the growth in new species will rely on adventurous observers and identifiers working together reveal the identity of increasingly rarely encountered and poorly known groups of organisms. If you have other ideas for how to invigorate this process, we’d love to hear them!

發帖時間: 2020年13十月日 06:04 下午loarie loarie | 63 評論 | 留下評論
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