University of Victoria researcher Geneviève Reynolds uses the iNaturalist app in Goldstream Provincial Park. (Kelly Fretwell/BC Parks Foundation)

More than 1,600 use ‘personal nature interpreter’ app to identify 4,200 species in B.C. parks

App helps identify plants and animals, crowdsource biodiversity data

Do your plant identification skills start and end with Charlie Brown Christmas tree sightings? The iNaturalist app may be for you, especially now that it’s being promoted through the BC Parks iNaturalist project.

Through the project, team members have input the boundaries of every provincial park and protected area in B.C. so that visitors of all backgrounds can use their phone or camera to photograph and help identify plants and animals, categorized by location.

“For those of us who love parks, but don’t have a scientific background, the iNaturalist app is great because the powerful AI technology can help identify the species you’ve photographed,” said Colleen Dunbar of the BC Parks Foundation.

READ MORE: BC Parks Foundation board begins work

Dunbar said BC Parks, the foundation as well as the Simon Fraser Universty (SFU) and Universty of Victoria (UVic) are encouraging more people to become “citizen scientists” using the app next time they visit a B.C. park or protected area. More important than seeming smart in front of your hiking friends, she said citizen scientists can use the app to crowdsource species observations, such as animal migration patterns and even the effects of climate change.

“iNaturalist serves as your very own personal nature interpreter – you take a photo on your phone, have the app scan the photo with its powerful artificial intelligence, and it will suggest a species ID for you,” added UVic’s Brian Starzomski, project co-lead.

“Even better, you become a citizen scientist when you upload your observation to iNaturalist, where it will be automatically added to the BC Parks project, creating a massive new inventory of biodiversity information for all British Columbians.”

So far more than 67,000 observations of over 4,200 species have been catalogued by over 1,600 observers through the project. Citizen scientists have observed a very out of range northern mockingbird on Goose Island near Bella Bella, for example, and the first record of the endangered plains forktail damselfly in B.C. on iNaturalist.

A community of keen citizen scientists called “identifiers” confirm the identity of species that have been documented and help correct any errors and ensure as many observations are research grade as possible.

Researchers at SFU and UVic then study those findings and help provide recommendation to BC Parks management decisions as a result.

“It’s through the power of numbers that we will build a new understanding of what is out there and how it is changing in the face of climate change and other pressures,” said foundation CEO Andrew Day.

“Every visitor makes a difference by adding a piece of the puzzle, and soon we can see the picture.”

To become a citizen scientist visit bcparksfoundation.ca/inaturalist.

Just Posted

UVic students return from Hong Kong amidst growing tension

All eight University of Victoria exchange students have returned to Canada

ICBC, province urge residents to plan ahead for winter weather

Greater Victoria should gear up and have a plan in place

65-million-year-old triceratops makes its debut in Victoria

Dino Lab Inc. is excavating the fossilized remains of a 65-million-year-old dinosaur

Tillicum Centre evacuated after false alarm in Save-On-Foods

A fire alarm was mistakenly activated by falling food

VIDEO: ‘Climate emergency’ is Oxford’s 2019 Word of the Year

Other words on the shortlist included ‘extinction,’ ‘climate denial’ and ‘eco-anxiety’

POLL: Do you plan on making any purchases on Black Friday?

We’ve all seen the images. Shoppers rioting outside of a store in… Continue reading

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Nov. 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Canucks erupt with 5 power-play goals in win over Nashville

Vancouver ends three-game slide with 6-3 triumph over Predators

Nanaimo man caught with more than 200,000 child porn images to be sentenced

Crown says Aaron Macrae recorded video of children on buses and at his workplace

Vancouver Island hunters may have harvested deer in area known for chronic wasting disease

Conservation officers make urgent request to public for any information

B.C. widow suing health authority after ‘untreatable’ superbug killed her husband

New Public Agency Health report puts Canadian death toll at 5,400 in 2018

Changes to B.C. building code address secondary suites, energy efficiency

Housing Minister Selina Robinson says the changes will help create more affordable housing

Most Read