iNaturalist.org and the iNaturalist app are resources for anyone who has interest in finding out more about what’s living out in the world. Their database is a collection of observations of any species encountered on Earth, and is both searchable by the curious nature enthusiast and a scientist conducting research.
Anyone can contribute observations, which get tagged with a date and location. Other iNaturalist users can weigh in with their thoughts on the species recorded, helping form a concensus. iNaturalist has an extensive glossary of species from fungi to plants to animals and beyond to aid in identification or to help you find out the coolest quirks about each species. Right here in Burlington, it is possible to search the database of observations to find what species have been spotted in the city, or even in a given natural area like Derway Island at the end of North Avenue, as seen below.
For a given area, a species list of every observation can be found and filtered for whatever your interests are: birds, invasive species, research-grade observations, or sightings made in the past month. See an excerpt from the Derway Island species list below. iNaturalist not only helps you record and identify what you've seen, but can help you plan where to make your next big find!
As a “community science” tool, iNaturalist has become incredibly valuable for research by countless institutions. For example, organizations like Burlington Wildways can find out where wildlife corridors are from observation maps so that we can advocate to preserve and enhance important connections between fragmented natural areas.
You can use iNaturalist yourself to find out the phenology, or seasonality, of species by visiting the About page for a species and viewing the graph of when in the year it can be found.
Enhancing biodiversity is one of the most significant goals we can strive for to help ecosystems adapt in our changing climate. By using iNaturalist, you can be a part of a worldwide network of people tracking the health of natural communities while enjoying the excitement of discovery of the plethora of life on Earth!
Some example maps are below, plus check out the species clocks which are also produced from iNaturalist observations!