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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ma Miller’s Pub in Langford. (Michelle Cabana/Black Press Media)
Historic Langford pub serves up some spirits

Ghostly experiences at Ma Miller’s pub

Police closed McNeill Avenue after a workplace death Oct. 20, 2020. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
WorkSafe BC investigating man’s death during Oak Bay tree removal

Man was working for contracted tree removal company when incident occurred

A notice on the door of the Starbucks at 3849 Cadboro Bay Rd. says it closes permanently on Sunday, Oct. 25. (Google Maps)
Cadboro Bay Starbucks location to close permanently after 16 years

Residents association seeks reason for closure set for Oct. 25

The West Shore RCMP released these images of a suspect as part of its investigation into a report of sexual assault on Sept. 17. (West Shore RCMP handout)
The West Shore RCMP released these images of a suspect as part of its investigation into a report of sexual assault on Sept. 17. (West Shore RCMP handout)
Sexual assault suspect sought by West Shore RCMP

Police are looking for help identifying this man

Environmental advocate, Dorothy Chambers holds up the body of Ollie, a well-known Great Horned owl found dead in Cuthbert Holmes Park on Oct. 17. (Photo courtesy Dorothy Chambers)
Poison suspected after well-known owl found dead in Saanich park

Body of Ollie the Great Horned owl discovered in Cuthbert Holmes Park

FILE – People wait in line at a COVID-19 testing facility in Burnaby, B.C., on Thursday, August 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
167 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death recorded as B.C. enters 2nd wave

Three new healthcare outbreaks also announced

Advance polls are open from Oct. 15 to 21 with election day on Oct. 24. (Black Press Media file photo)
Nanaimo RCMP are asking for the public’s assistance in locating Michael Leighton, who is wanted on 11 warrants on Vancouver Island and is a suspect in a recent break, enter and theft in Nanaimo. (Photos submitted)
RCMP looking for break-and-enter suspect with 11 warrants on the Island

Nanaimo RCMP say Michael Leighton a suspect in theft of pistol and $40,000 worth of coins

This 2020 electron microscope image made available by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases shows a Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 particle isolated from a patient, in a laboratory in Fort Detrick, Md. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-NIAID/NIH via AP
At least 49 cases of COVID-19 linked to wedding in Calgary: Alberta Health

McMillan says the city of Calgary has recently seen several outbreaks linked to social gatherings

UBC geoscientists discovered the wreckage of a decades-old crash during an expedition on a mountain near Harrison Lake. (Submitted photo)
Wreckage of decades-old plane crash discovered on mountain near Harrison Lake

A team of Sts’ailes Community School students helped discover the twisted metal embedded in a glacier

The official search to locate Jordan Naterer was suspended Saturday Oct. 17. Photo courtesy of VPD.
‘I am not leaving without my son,’ says mother of missing Manning Park hiker

Family and friends continue to search for Jordan Naterer, after official efforts suspended

Bernard Trest and his son Max, 10, are concerned about B.C.’s plan for students in the classroom. He was one of two fathers who filed a court application in August to prevent schools from reopening if stricter COVID-19 protections weren’t in place. That application was dismissed last week. (Contributed photo)
B.C. dad pledges to appeal quashed call for mandatory masks, distancing in schools

Bernard Trest and Gary Shuster challenged health, education ministries’ return-to-school plan

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
RCMP cleared in fatal shooting of armed Lytton man in distress, police watchdog finds

IIO spoke to seven civillian witnesses and 11 police officers in coming to its decision

A 34-year-old man was treated for a gunshot wound in Williams Lake Monday, Oct 19, 2020. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Williams Lake man treated for gunshot wound after accidental shooting: RCMP

Police are reminding residents to ensure firearms are not loaded when handling them

Most Read