Αρχεία Ημερολογίου για Μάρτιος 2020

Μάρτιος 02, 2020

February 2020 Photo-observation of the Month

Congratulations to killamfarm for winning the February 2020 Vermont Atlas of Life iNaturalist photo-observation of the month. The image of a Common Raccoon (Procyon lotor) sleeping soundly under a blue sky captured the most attention by voters. They added that it "must have been chased up the tree the night before and spent the day resting before disappearing into the night." Withover 1,500 photo-observations submitted by 214 observers this month, it was very competitive. Click on the image to see and explore all of the amazing photo-observations.

Raccoons were originally animals of the forest. Today, they are most often be seen along streams, in open forests, or wetlands but inhabit urban, suburban and farming areas as well. They breed from January to mid-March and the litter is born in late April or May. The young, typically numbering four to five but sometimes as many as eight, are helpless and completely dependent on their mother for survival. The male raccoon plays no role in raising the young. The female is very protective of her young and will carry them around by the nape of the neck. They are able to open their eyes after 18 days and soon after gain the ability to hear. By the time they are four to six weeks old, they are strong enough to stand on their own. They are weaned from their mother's milk and begin to hunt independently by the time they are about three months old. The young will remain with their mother for one year.

Raccoons are nocturnal. Like the rest of their habits, they often modify their behavior when searching for food or water. Raccoons are curious animals, which, at times, can cause problems with humans. This has led to some people labeling them as mischievous and as bandits or robbers.

Visit the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist where you can vote for the winner this month by clicking the ‘fav’ star on your favorite photo-observation. Make sure you get outdoors and record the biodiversity around you, then submit your discoveries and you could be a winner!

Posted on Μάρτιος 02, 2020 0810 ΜΜ by kpmcfarland kpmcfarland | 0σχόλια | Αφήστε ένα σχόλιο

Μάρτιος 03, 2020

Tech Tip Tuesday: Adding Sounds

Happy March everyone! I couldn’t believe the warm air when I stepped outside this morning. Between that, the vibrant birdsong all around my house, and the light sky, it really feels like spring is almost here. This past weekend I saw three skunks within less than a mile’s drive, waddling along the side of a backroad. This is a sure sign that breeding season is beginning! If you want to learn more about the flora and fauna you can expect to see this month, check out the Vermont Center for Ecostudies’ Field Guide to March.

I’m also happy to announce that the TTT archive is now live on the VAL website. By providing direct links on our website, we hope that you can more easily access older articles. As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out with your ideas for topics or other suggestions for how to improve TTT.

This Week on Tech Tip Tuesday

Before long, the sounds of spring will flood our ears - birds singing, frogs croaking, and the whine of cars struggling through the deep mud that plagues many a Vermont backroad. That is why today, I’m going to talk about uploading sounds to iNaturalist.

Uploading sounds is a highly useful, yet underutilized feature of the app. For animals like birds and frogs, we may often hear them before we see them. In fact, sometimes we may never see them. However, that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve to claim their own patch of iNaturalist turf. Many species are identifiable by the noise they make. These observations often provide just as much information as a photo. In many cases, uploading a sound can result in a quality, research grade observation. Want to know what these sound observations are like? Here’s a great example.

Recording and uploading a sound is almost as easy as uploading a visual observation. Unfortunately for iPhone users, you cannot record and upload sounds directly from the iNaturalist app. However, you can either use your iPhone’s pre-downloaded recording app or select one yourself from the Apple Store. Once you have finished recording a sound on your chosen app, you need to transfer the sound file to your computer. After the sound file is on your computer, hit upload, select your file, and fill out the observation’s information as usual.

Like with many other iNaturalist features, Android users have a much easier time. When you want to record a sound, begin your usual iNaturalist upload process. Click on “record sound” (or choose sound if you already have one saved). Selecting this option will either automatically take you to your phone’s recording app, or in some cases it will allow you to record the sound directly through iNaturalist (my phone does). Once you hit stop on your recording, you will get the option to use your sound to create an observation and should proceed as usual.

I realize that I didn’t provide many steps to this, however that’s because the process is essentially the same as creating an observation from a photo. The only significant difference is using a sound recording app instead of your phone’s camera.

If you need more guidance, iNaturalist does provide some instruction on how to upload sounds on their Help page. However, be warned: some of this information is a bit out of date. Despite what they say, it is possible to upload sounds from your android mobile device.

TTT Task of the Week

This week I want you all to go out and experiment with recording wildlife and uploading their sounds to iNaturalist. Birds are a great place to start. Take some time to play around with the process and figure out what makes sense and what is still confusing. As always, I’m happy to answer questions if something doesn’t make sense. Stay tuned, as we may revisit this topic again in the coming weeks.

That’s all for this week. Thank you for helping us map Vermont’s biodiversity and happy observing!

Posted on Μάρτιος 03, 2020 0408 ΜΜ by emilyanderson2 emilyanderson2 | 6σχόλια | Αφήστε ένα σχόλιο

Μάρτιος 10, 2020

Tech Tip Tuesday: All About Checklists

Spring is in the air. Literally, in some ways. I took a walk up the road yesterday while enjoying the gorgeous weather and was surprised to find my eyes briefly assaulted by some small, flying insects. While that may be more spring than I’m ready for at the moment, I am enjoying the warm sun, renewed vigor of woodpeckers in the nearby forests, and the early shoots of flowering plants beginning to emerge in my garden. At this point, it’s hard to know what March may still have in store for us, however I will take this break from winter’s icy grip while it lasts.

This Week on Tech Tip Tuesday

Many citizen science apps exist nowadays covering a wide range of project styles and topics. When it comes to naturalist apps it can be hard to know exactly which one to use in each situation. While I usually take this space to explain a handy feature of iNaturalist, today I’m going to explain why it might be best to record your bird and butterfly data on eBird and e-Butterfly.

The main difference between these two projects lies in how they record data. eBird and e-Butterfly both use checklists to record information about species, while iNaturalist uses one-at-a-time observations. While observations are incredibly useful for noting when a species is present in an area, they fail to provide clarity about species’ absences or their relative abundance. From iNaturalist presence-only observations, you can build models of a species’ range and then track expansions and contractions, but without individual counts you can’t track population declines.

It’s in these cases that checklists shine. Unlike one-off observations, complete checklists report what wasn’t found too. For a complete checklist, every species you could identify to the best of your ability, by sight and/or sound, is reported. As long as you aren’t intentionally leaving any species off your list, you’re submitting a complete checklist.

Checklisting also collects important information on effort. When you begin a checklist for eBird using the smartphone app , it tracks the distance you travel and your time birding. It also keeps track of whether you see a species and how many individuals you count. Using this information, eBird estimates the amount of effort expended while birding, providing context for the number of species you recorded. The more effort that goes into your search (based on time, distance, and number of people), the more likely it is that you’ve observed all species present in that area. If a species isn’t detected and the completed checklist indicates relatively high effort, it’s likely that the species was truly absent.

While this system may seem a little complicated, scientists can actually use it to produce fairly detailed models displaying bird (or butterfly) presence and absence. On eBird, for example, they use this data to create maps showing species’ migration and population trends. Ultimately, this data will be highly useful as scientists continue to unravel how climate change, land use, and other human activities impact birds around the world. Checkout this article to learn more about how completed checklists are used.

I encourage you to use eBird and e-Butterfly for recording bird and butterfly observations. This is not to discourage you from using iNaturalist, since it does contribute valuable data on species’ distributions. However, it’s important to understand the differences between these tools and what they offer, and learn to use them both. So, if you decide to go out birding or butterflying, I encourage you to keep a checklist as you go and upload any neat observations into iNaturalist later.

TTT Task of the Week

This week I want you to explore Vermont eBird’s science section. Check out all of their maps to get a sense for what these differences can do. To learn more about these maps, check out this article on Vermont eBird. Next time you go out birding or butterfly hunting, I want you to give eBird or e-Butterfly a try. And keep using iNaturalist too! You can upload any photos you take while out checklisting.

Thank you for helping us map Vermont’s biodiversity and happy observing!

Posted on Μάρτιος 10, 2020 1110 ΜΜ by emilyanderson2 emilyanderson2 | 2σχόλια | Αφήστε ένα σχόλιο

Μάρτιος 11, 2020

New Vermont Atlas of Life Swag!

The VAL team worked with artist (and iNaturalist!) Katama Murray to create this eye-catching design to raise awareness and some funds for the Vermont Atlas of Life. Katama created each drawing using an archival pen, and then transformed them digitally to make the entire composition into the shape of the wonderful state of Vermont.

You and your friends and family will look snazzy, support citizen science, and help spread the word for biodiversity conservation with these unique shirts. Check out our nice selection of styles, colors, and sizes at https://www.bonfire.com/vermont-atlas-of-life

Can You Identify all the Species?

We chose 39 species to include in the graphic. Some are favorites, some iconic, others have neat conservation stories. How many can you identify? View a large image and when you've written down all your answers, visit the key to see how you did. No cheating!

About the Artist

Katama Murray is an eco artist, aspiring educator, and naturalist. Originally from the coast of Downeast Maine, her work is inspired by the earth’s natural rhythm and humanity’s interconnectedness to the environment. Living and studying throughout various parts of New England, she has always been influenced by the outdoors and the way in which we interact with it. With her BFA in Printmaking and Art History from Plymouth State University, she strives to learn and teach together with people of all ages, hoping to inspire others to become more connected to our only planet. Her work explores the combination of multiple printmaking and textile techniques that utilize natural materials and a sustainable mindset. In 2020 she will continue her graduate studies at Indiana University Bloomington, focusing on her MFA in Printmaking. To learn more about her work please visit: www.katamamurrayart.com

Posted on Μάρτιος 11, 2020 0730 ΜΜ by kpmcfarland kpmcfarland | 2σχόλια | Αφήστε ένα σχόλιο

Μάρτιος 17, 2020

Tech Tip Tuesday: Using iNaturalist as a Teaching Tool

I usually start TTT with a comment about the weather and what’s happening in nature, however doing that today would feel disingenuous. It’s hard to believe how much can change in a short period of time. I know that I’m not alone in feeling uprooted and disoriented after such a tumultuous week or two. As someone who is passionate about the natural world, I’ve found myself turning there for comfort and escape. I also recognize that easy access to nature is a privilege and not available to everyone for a multitude of reasons. Employment, location, and health status, among other factors, can all create barriers to extended outdoor recreation, especially under current conditions. Keeping this in mind, I still urge you to spend time in nature whenever it is safe and feasible to do so. And if you can’t, open a window, breathe in the fresh air, and listen to birdsong, or listen to birdsong through your smartphone or other listening device. You may find that this too brings you a brief spell of ease.

My final comments before we dive in are not nature related. In this time of social distancing, the prospect of spending extended periods in relative isolation feels scary. In these moments, we need community more than ever. Make sure that you’re still reaching out to the people in your lives who you care about. Also, reach out to people you don’t know and who may be struggling right now through acts of kindness committed from a safe distance. Despite needing to stay at least six feet away, we still need to be there for each other. Regardless of our individual situations, most of us are feeling lonely and afraid, making connection essential.

This Week on Tech Tip Tuesday

As I’m sure all of you are acutely aware (or experiencing directly), all Vermont public schools (as well public schools in many other states) either are closed or will be closing tomorrow until April 6th. I can’t even begin to imagine the difficulties this will place on parents and families across Vermont (and beyond). I want to acknowledge that for many, school is more than an education: it’s food, childcare, and a social network, among many other things.

Tech Tip Tuesday can barely even scratch this surface, however what it can provide is directions to guide you in using iNaturalist to keep the children in your lives engaged in nature education. One great aspect of iNaturalist is that you don’t need to be an expert to teach children about nature. Between its A.I. and suggestions from others, you can identify the life around your home or along your favorite trail with relative ease. You can also learn more about the species you uncover on the taxa info pages.

Since some schools are trying to hold classes online, iNaturalist also makes a great tool for remote learning. If students are of an age where they can register for iNaturalist without parental permission, teachers can potentially have them use iNaturalist to collect information around their homes or neighborhoods and share them to a class project page. The possibilities of how to use iNaturalist as an educational tool are plentiful! To learn more about how to use iNaturalist as an educational tool, check out the iNaturalist teacher’s guide and this thread on the iNaturalist forum.

However, there are a couple of things to consider before taking off. First, it’s important that you as the educator understand how to use the app. iNaturalist recommends having at least 20-30 observations uploaded before using it for a class. Second, only people 13 years or older can create an iNaturalist account. In order to use the app with younger children, either you must be the one using it, or you should use Seek, a similar app designed by iNaturalist for younger children. Third, another point that’s been raised by some in the iNaturalist community is that iNaturalist will teach you what something is but won’t necessarily teach you what its identifying features are. If you want the young people you’re teaching to take a deeper dive into identification, you can check out the Vermont Atlas of Life website for a great list of identification resources.

Of course, there is more to consider than these three things and I once again highly recommend checking out the teacher guide, even parents. While you may not be a formal teacher, the guide will still help you understand how best to use iNaturalist to engage your children.

If you’re an educator, parent, or other individual looking to educate the children in your care about nature and have any questions about using iNaturalist, please email me at eanderson@vtecostudies.org or message me on iNaturalist.

TTT Task of the Week

If you know any educators, parents, or other individuals looking for a way to keep their children engaged in learning either in-person or remotely, please share iNaturalist’s teacher guide with them. If you can, please get outside. Explore, take a break from the news, and photograph as many species as you can find.

As always, thank you for helping us map Vermont’s biodiversity, stay safe, and happy observing!

Posted on Μάρτιος 17, 2020 0727 ΜΜ by emilyanderson2 emilyanderson2 | 0σχόλια | Αφήστε ένα σχόλιο

Μάρτιος 24, 2020

Tech Tip Tuesday: Using the Forum

Oh, hello winter. This morning I woke up, looked outside, and thought for a brief, hopeful instance that maybe it was actually January. It only took one glance at the mound of toilet paper rolls in my living room (just kidding, it was actually the New York Times in my inbox) to snap back to present.

Hi everyone, I hope you’re all hanging in there. If there’s one phrase I’ve heard repeated over and over during this past week and a half, it’s “weird times”. That seems to be the best description I or anyone else can come up with to summarize what’s going on. They certainly are unprecedented and are actively reshaping the very fabric of our societies. Understandably, we’re all feeling stressed out and constantly on edge. It’s definitely exhausting, so I hope that you’re all finding healthy ways to take care of yourselves.

With all this chaos, fear, and uncertainty, it’s easy to become glued to the news. I’ll admit that at one-point last week I found myself refreshing my email every 5 minutes to see if there were any updates. Now, obviously, this is unhealthy, and I’ve since tried to substitute obsessively checking for updates with stepping outside, even for just a 10 minute walk up my road. On these walks, I try to remain focused on what’s around me, instead of spinning a story about the world’s events. Intentionally sharpening my focus has allowed me to notice so much more than I might otherwise. So far, two of my coolest sightings were a mink running along a streambank and the mating calls of a Barred Owl pair. These small moments remind me that there is still beauty and wonder in the world. You just need to look for it!

This Week on Tech Tip Tuesday

At this time, social distancing is one of the best tools we have for slowing the virus’s spread and “flattening the curve”. I don't know how everyone else is managing the relative isolation, however my impression is that the lack of human interaction is challenging even for those of us who aren’t extroverts. Thankfully, in this technology-dominant age, there are still plenty of ways to connect.

If you’re looking to connect with other naturalists, then iNaturalist is the place to do it! The way many people connect with others on iNaturalist is either through direct messaging or over a species identification. However, there’s one place in particular that’s great for getting feedback on your questions and ideas, and for joining a conversation between multiple people—the iNaturalist forum.

If you were unaware that this platform existed, or have never used it, now is a great time to check it out. I personally use it to find tips and tricks for using iNaturalist better. Besides tutorials, it’s also a great place to find general information about iNaturalist, report bugs, request new features, and discuss different topics in nature, such as weird animal names.

To get started, go to “Community” in the menu bar across the top of your page and click on “Forum”. Once on the forum, you will see a list of categories. On the left, you will see the category name with a description of the types of conversations hosted there. In the middle, you will see the number of topics posted per week. On the right, you will see the three most recent posts under that category. You can also sort posts by “latest” or “top”. When you see a post that interests you, click on it.

Once you click on a post, you can see the original and all the comments other users added below with their own thoughts. If you scroll to the bottom, you will notice that the forum prompts you to sign up. You can read all the comments without signing up, however in order to use the site more fully, you do need to create an account. You can create a brand-new account, or simply connect using your existing iNaturalist account. To sign up, click the “sign up” button at the bottom of the page and follow their instructions. If you want to use your iNaturalist account, click on the option in the right hand side of the dialogue box.

Once you’ve signed up, many more options will appear and be available. Returning to the bottom of the post, you will now notice that you can bookmark the post, share it, flag it, or reply. To add your own comments or questions, click on the “reply” button and type in the dialogue box. Remember, keep your comments and questions appropriate—community rules apply.

One important thing to know about the forum before continuing is that it operates on trust levels. By interacting with certain aspects of the forum in positive ways, you earn trust levels which allow you to access different features. Trust levels essentially provide a cushion for new users learning how the site operates and provides benefits to established users which help them better support the community. To learn more about how trust levels work, check out this article. Ultimately, you likely won’t notice your trust level affecting your ability to participate too much, especially if you’re just using basic forum features, however knowing that this system is in place is important for understanding how the community operates.

For now, those are the important basics to know for understanding the forum. If you’re interested in learning more, I may cover more advanced forum uses in the future.

TTT Task of the Week

This week, I want you to engage with iNaturalist’s online community through the forum. Visit it and read some posts that interest you. I also encourage you to make an account and contribute to discussions.

That’s all for this week! Thank you for helping us map Vermont’s biodiversity, stay safe, and happy observing!

Posted on Μάρτιος 24, 2020 0640 ΜΜ by emilyanderson2 emilyanderson2 | 1 σχόλιο | Αφήστε ένα σχόλιο

Μάρτιος 31, 2020

Tech Tip Tuesday: All About Your Dashboard

Mud season is here! Well, I guess it has probably been here for a while, but this week I was finally able to venture far enough from my home to encounter it. Although I live on a dirt road, it has yet to substantially soften up. Over the weekend, I opted to take my socially-distanced exercise to a hiking trail leading off a distant backroad. While I was prepared for cold, rainy weather, I wasn’t prepared for 6-inch muddy trenches. Good thing my car has all-wheel drive—otherwise I might have found myself in some real trouble.

Besides muddy road trenches, bleak skies, and lingering ice patches, the hike was wonderful. I don’t know about anyone else, but I find that I treasure my moments outdoors infinitely more now that I spend many hours each week wandering between rooms in my house, trying to find the quietest spot for Zoom conference calls. This hike was particularly interesting because I saw both a live and a dead porcupine within a span of about 100 feet along the trail. After another couple hundred feet of hiking, I found a den site. It’s moments like these that help take me away from all the stress around me and make me excited to get back out.

A final note, if you do choose to visit a trail or park off your property, please remember to treat it with respect. With social distancing measures in place, there are fewer folks out running routine maintenance. At this time, we must all do our part to keep the wild spaces we love clean and safe.

This Week on Tech Tip Tuesday

This week we’re going to familiarize ourselves with a section of iNaturalist that we regularly visit but may not pay much attention to: our dashboards. This is the page we see when we first open iNaturalist on our computers. While many of us (myself included) probably just glance at it quickly before moving on to search or upload observations, it has a lot of useful features. You can use it to stay up to date with other users and projects you follow, view your calendar, check out your personal observations, and even keep a journal. Below, I will walk you through each of the tabs and explain what each can do.

First, you need to get to your dashboard. iNaturalist should open to this page when you login. If you are trying to get there from a different part of the site, go to your profile icon in the top right corner, hover your cursor over it so that the drop-down menu appears, and click “dashboard”. You can also find it at https://www.inaturalist.org/home.

Now that you’ve found it, let’s explore some tabs.

Home – This is the first tab in the line-up and the one that iNaturalist usually opens to. This is the page where you will find updates from users and projects you follow. For example, for those of you who are members of the Vermont Atlas of Life project, an update will appear here whenever the VAL team posts Tech Tip Tuesday or any other article. Ultimately, you can think of it like any of your usual social media newsfeeds.

You can also filter the updates on your home page to show all updates, your content, people you’re following, or real time discussions by clicking the different categories listed above the newsfeed.

Profile – Here you will find your personal profile. If you haven’t added any information to your profile, I highly recommend you do so. You can check out this installment of TTT to learn more about creating an awesome profile.

Observations – The observations tab will take you to your observations page the same as if you clicked on “Your Observations” across the top bar on your screen. From this page, you can edit your observations, add new ones, or search through your observations.

Calendar – From your calendar, you can see all the observations that you made on a certain day. These are shown by blue, clickable dates. When you click on the number, you will go to a page displaying the individual observations as well as the number of taxa you observed, the number of observations, and the number of life list firsts. You can view these observations in the usual three formats: grid, list, and map. By clicking on the map view, you can see where all your observations were made on that day. This is a great tool for checking to make sure that your observations’ locations are correct. By using map view, you can quickly check for outliers and edit observations whose locations are incorrectly placed.

Favorites – By visiting this tab, you can find all the observations you have favorited and revisit them. You can view them in grid, list, or map format.

Lists – Here, you can view and edit all your lists, as well as create new ones. Check out this TTT to learn more about using lists.

Journal – This is an interesting feature which, honestly, I have yet to use myself, however I know that a lot of people find it handy. Under “journal” you can create your own personal blog post and even link observations to it. This is a good way to document particularly exciting encounters or keep a nature journal of all your adventures.

IDs – By visiting this page, you will find a list of all the observations you have contributed identifications to.

Projects – This page shows all the projects you have joined. You can also manage your project invitations here by clicking on the button that says, “Manage your project invitations”.

That’s it! Dashboard may not be iNaturalist’s most glamorous tool, however it provides a lot of opportunities for organizing and expanding your user experience.

TTT Task of the Week

This week, I encourage you to explore your dashboard, get familiar with it, and add information where it’s needed. Please check out the referenced TTT articles for more in-depth guidance on making some of these edits.

As always, thank you for helping us map Vermont’s biodiversity, stay safe, and happy observing!

Posted on Μάρτιος 31, 2020 0721 ΜΜ by emilyanderson2 emilyanderson2 | 1 σχόλιο | Αφήστε ένα σχόλιο