IGC fellows gather for a nature walk to learn from each other and contribute to citizen science efforts

By Alaina Weinheimer | November 21, 2019

On a Sunday morning early this November, some IGC fellows ventured out to Pandapas Pond to observe and learn more from each other about the local flora and fauna. The nature walk began with each member saying the group(s) of organisms they are familiar with, or whether they primarily are along to learn.  From millipedes to mushrooms to ferns, a variety of organisms could be identified by someone.

Despite the onset of the cold (bringing with it: hibernation, migration, and abscission), we managed to identify a number of critters, trees, fungi, and birds. Some of us recorded our observations on iNaturalist or the Seek app, part of a worldwide citizen science effort. In these apps, users record organisms they observe, the date, and location. Ideally, these data can be used by researchers and those in management for understanding ranges of species, population sizes, seasonal behaviors, etc. However, the identification algorithms still need optimization (64% accurate for iNaturalist), and the species represented in these databases tend to be imbalanced by those of human interest. Despite such limitations, these apps are a great leap forward in citizen science, connecting us all to better understanding the environment we live in, ideally leading to a greater sense of responsibility for its welfare.

Stay tuned for the scheduling of a Spring IGC Nature Walk, where will hopefully see more creatures, plants, and fungi. Looking forward to comparing that with what we saw recently this fall!

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