Why do I make observations?

So, I'm approaching 100k observations (yay factors of 10!), and I had a wonderful conversation with a friend about why we make observations. Well, if you're curious, here are some reasons that I make iNat observations (in no order):

Filling up the map -- I love seeing a map getting covered with dots/evidence. It could be a geographic dot or a temporal dot -- a place or a time. I tend to observe pretty much everything! I try to get plants with their reproductive structures (flowers/fruits), but there are some that I've bent those rules. When I go to a park or a location that I've not been before, I really enjoy putting some observations on the map and on the calendar for that location. iNaturalist has made traveling a LOT more fun too!

Making iNaturalist better -- I like to think that my observations help in making iNaturalist better. I try to make relatively good photos (albeit, not great!), but each photo and observation may help with the visual algorithm. iNaturalist is learning as we all do -- it's not perfect yet, but it's getting better!

Observing associate species -- no organism lives alone in the ecosystem, so I think it's important to document as many associated species as possible. If someone were to ask, "what was this beetle feeding upon?" then I may be able to address that question with alllll of the other observations made that day or in that area.

Addressing future questions -- when I make an observation, it may help with some question that someone in the future has. I'm trying to answer questions that have yet to be asked! Perhaps it can be a taxonomic or distribution question, perhaps a morphological difference... Maybe it's a land management question -- measuring the differences in the biota after a certain type of management.

Learning the names of the species -- iNaturalist is the epitome of a learning tool. I've learned an inordinate amount from using iNaturalist, and not just from one taxonomic group but so many! In the past, I used to be narrowly focused on plants, but with iNaturalist, I've opened my eyes up to all of the other layers of the ecosystem. With the repetition of observations, those names become more and more familiar.

Every day I engage with nature -- I was inspired by @jmaughn to make daily observations. Well, I've kept up with it for over 7 years (starting in 10 May 2015). This may seem silly, but I think it's important to recognize that every day we engage with nature. There have been a few days that I initially don't want to go outside, but when I actually do go, I so enjoy it!

I like it -- it really makes me happy to make observations. There's just something about it that makes me happy to be alive when I'm out engaging with nature. I'm so lucky to share the planet with all of these various species that I get to see. Through iNaturalist, I don't just engage with nature, but I actively engage with the community of naturalists around the whole world. I see the observations that others make around the world, and I'm lucky to share the planet with all of those species (and the observers) as well!

Paraphrased quote: "It may not have survival value, but it gives value to survival." ~C.S. Lewis

Posted on 04 July, 2022 19:49 by sambiology sambiology


Thanks for this, Sam. I agree on all points!


Posted by jmaughn about 2 years ago

I also agree on all points, but especially associate species. What plants / weather / time of day / temperatures are important to each species life? So I would add one more: behavior; do they play dead? become aggressive? use camouflage? do they peaceably interact with any other species or with different classes of animals? So thank you.

PS: If I may be a PITA: there are only 4 factors of 10 but an infinite number of multiples and powers. ;-) That's me: Queen PITA.

Posted by andreerenosanborn about 2 years ago

Great stuff, Sam!

Posted by jcochran706 about 2 years ago

Yes to all of this

Posted by ambytbfl almost 2 years ago

Love it!

Posted by annikaml almost 2 years ago

You are awesome, Sam!

Posted by beschwar almost 2 years ago

Well put Sam! And congrats on reaching 100,000! A great milestone indeed.

Posted by nathantaylor almost 2 years ago

100K!! Way to go, Sam! I love all of what you've said here. Onward to 200K! 500K! 1,000,000!

Posted by tadamcochran almost 2 years ago

Lovely post. I might add another bullet point: iNatting is good exercise, too.

Posted by donyoung almost 2 years ago

Add a Comment

Sign In or Sign Up to add comments