iNaturalist for Ohio State Parks

Making an Observation From Your iphone

So what is iNaturalist?

iNaturalist is a lot of different things, but at its core,

iNaturalist is an online social network of people sharing biodiversity information to help each other learn about nature

It’s also a crowdsourced species identification system and an organism occurrence recording tool. You can use it to record your own observations, get help with identifications, collaborate with others to collect this kind of information for a common purpose, or access the observational data collected by iNaturalist users.

However, despite the fact that iNaturalisr can be a bit technical and seems scientific, our primary goal of iNaturalist is to connect people to nature,  getting people to feel that the non-human world has personal significance, and is worth protecting. Recording information about nature in a social context is a tremendous way to understand the awesome depth and breadth of life on Earth.

The secondary goal is to generate scientifically valuable biodiversity data from these personal encounters. iNauralistt can achieve both of these goals simultaneously – in fact that they reinforce one another. On iNaturalist, other users add identifications to each other’s observations in order to confirm or improve the “community identification.” Observations are classified as “casual,” “needs ID” (needs identification), or “research grade” based on the quality of the data provided and the community identification process. “Research grade” observations are incorporated into other online databases such as The Global Biodiversity Information Facility.(3) But Anyone with an account can export data from iNaturalist as a spreadsheet in csv format. You can start from the Explore or a specific project page and click download in the lower right of the filters box

The Ohio State Parks Projects

These projects were created to catalog the biodiversity of the individual state parks. Through the use and promotion of the projects we hope to create community awareness of local biodiversity and promote exploration of the natural environment.

Projects allow to the easy collection of data for each of the projects that can be searched in any number of ways, allowing us for example, to find the wildflowers observed within a particular time period. Projects are also a useful outreach and promotional tool- they can be promoted, people invited to join, and perhaps even mini “blitzes” where we invite people to come during particular dates and make as many observations as they can. There is also a journal feature that allows admins to communicate with those who have joined (they would get a notification that there was news to read). Through the use and promotion of the projects we hope to create community awareness of local biodiversity and promote exploration of the natural environment.

What Are Observations?

An observation records an encounter with an individual organism at a particular time and location. This includes encounters with signs of organisms like tracks, nests, or things that just died. When you make an observation, you’ll record:

Your observations don’t need to include all of these parts, but they do in order to become research quality observations for science. Remember, you should make separate observations for each separate organism you encounter. If you observed something that is not wild, like a garden plant or a lion in the zoo, make sure to mark it as captive/cultivated to prevent it from becoming research quality.(4)

How to Make an Observation From Your iPhone

How to Use the iNaturalist Identify Page

Some helpful video tutorials on the use of iNaturalist can be found here and here.

Park boundaries were imported as KML files extracted from Ohio Department of Natural Resources geographic information systems data.Ohio Department of Natural Resources. 3113, ODNR Lands. Columbus, OH ( ODNR Geographic Information Systems, 2018.

(1)About iNaturalist ( (2)Crowdsourcing (3) 4)