Abstract Detail



Education and Outreach

Struwe, Lena [1].

iNaturalist as a tool for biodiversity engagement, formal and informal education, and campus species inventories.

We currently live in a time of a strong reinvigoration of natural history and public engagement with biodiversity through the adoption and development of digital tools in collections, observations, and data management on desktop and handheld devices.  Social media and other web-based community forums have provided new revolutionary ways for interactions and direct communication between experts, amateurs and beginners alike. For example, area or taxon-specific species identification forums on Facebook, Reddit, etc., have hundreds of thousands of members, and answers are often given within minutes or hours.  This means that transfer of knowledge and information related to biodiversity and exploration have been effectivized and accessibility have been strongly improved, and our academic walls surrounding taxonomic expertise are breaking down through the use of apps, social media, and websites such as eBird, BugGuide, and iNaturalist (but many taxonomic experts have yet to discover the information available in these resources). The result is that more people learn and connect deeper with the plants and animals they see in their everyday lives and species blindness is reduced and environmental awareness and care is likely increased.  Anybody can be a biodiversity explorer and discoverer now, all you need is a digital camera and internet access so you can upload geolocated photos. The free and global website iNaturalist is commonly used for citizen science projects like place-based bioblitzes and personal record keeping, as well as large projects like tracking of monarchs. Anything anyone sees and photographs or records can be recorded, shared and identified (given a good photo) by the iNaturalist community, and possibly indicate an undescribed species, a range extension, or observations of new species interactions.  I will give examples of how iNaturalist can be used to auto-generate species lists of campus areas (to create university floras), run class projects and assignments (species bingo, etc.), provide accessory information including photos for herbarium collections, run longterm, competitive personal bioblitzes, and create life lists.  I will also address issues of including iNaturalist projects in curricula, such as preparation of skills needed for students, how to detect cheating and plagiarism by students, and recommended teaching practices when including public citizen science projects as graded curriculum components. 


Related Links:
Flora and Fauna of Rutgers Campus


1 - Rutgers University, Ecology, Evolution And Natural Resources, 59 Dudley Road, Foran Hall Rm 237, New Brunswick, NJ, 08901, United States

Keywords:
education
teaching
citizen science
science communication
community science
biodiversity
inventory
digital tools
Floristics
iNaturalist
discovery
species diversity
outreach
botany education.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Number: 0004
Abstract ID:1000
Candidate for Awards:None


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