"iNaturalist as a tool to expand the research value of museum specimens"

A wonderful paper that folks should print out and read! (or just read...)

Big time kudos to @jmheberling @huntingbon and @mmwebb for publishing this. As someone who worked in a herbarium (BRIT) for just a few years, I too really appreciate iNaturalist as a supplemental tool to the natural history collection of plants. Now, I'm using the tool as a supplement to public engagement on land management and public policy. Faults it may indeed have, but there's a tremendous amount of benefit that this tool gives all of us.

It's a great article! Well done.

Heberling, J. M., and B. L. Isaac. 2018. iNaturalist as a tool to expand the research value of museum specimens. Applications in Plant Sciences 6(11): e1193. (8 pages)


Posted on 11 November, 2018 16:29 by sambiology sambiology


Tagging some folks to be aware of this article:
@tsn @suz @bob777 @nathantaylor @alisonnorthup @jrebman @grnleaf @aztekium_tutor @glmory @catchang @bugman1388 @milkweedguy @stevejones @srall @choess @evan8 @anewman @leannewallis @arethusa @silversea_starsong @destes @aspidoscelis @hydaticus @danielatha @jon_sullivan @coreyjlange @txlorax @joshua_tx @gcwarbler @caliche_kid @lincolndurey *probably missing out on many others -- please forward this article to others that may be interested. :)

Posted by sambiology over 5 years ago

*updated entry with link to article:

Posted by sambiology over 5 years ago

@kkellman Perhaps of interest. The inclusion of a QR code on the herbarium label is a way to link the physical specimen to the in situ images and other info that an iNat post captures. There’s an explanation of how to include one.

Thanks @sambiology for posting. The movement of herbariums to create consortiums and share data has been an exciting way to access information on the web. This protocol potentially expands that access.

Posted by catchang over 5 years ago

Very interesting Sam! I am going to pass this on to the Canadian Museum of Nature botany curator.

Also, I'd like to hijack your post to highlight a recent Canadian article on how iNaturalist citizen science data is improving scientific knowledge of species abundances and distributions.


As context for the article, there are 122,000 lepidoptera (butterfly and moth) records for Canada on iNaturalist, as of today.

Posted by leannewallis over 5 years ago

Thanks a lot @sambiology for your post. A great way of leveraging older and new technology for the benefit of all.

Posted by caliche_kid over 5 years ago

Great! Thanks for sharing Sam!

Posted by nathantaylor over 5 years ago

Thanks for sharing!

Posted by bugman1388 over 5 years ago

Many non herbarium-associated people are not aware of the various consortia of herbaria and zoological collections. These are united by Symbiota, a collections database that affords all herbaria and animal and fungal collections the platform to make collections searchable and available on line. What is more, photographs can be attached to the online record. Many herbaria are now in the process of photographing collections to attach to the database record. There is no restriction on whether these photographs are from the field, or just depictions of the pressed plant. As a lichenologist and bryologist, my photographs will include micrographs of specimens I have collected.
The metadata discussed in this article are all fields in Symbiota. Specimen labels can be produced through Symbiota as well. Curators of any collection can also download backup files in formats that can be translated to other future databases if Symbiota became defunct.
Granted, for the lichens and bryophytes, many collection images are just of the label, which, given that the label data has already been transferred to the data fields, I find useless. But photographs of the specimens are in the near future. Our herbarium at UCSC is in the process of setting up herbarium sheet photography procedures. And I would encourage collectors to take in situ photographs to supplement the images of the dried specimen. So it seems best to me to use the existing Symbiota portals that already have the collection data to store the photographs of the collections. Writing translation software to allow iNaturalist to become the uniting database is reinventing the wheel. When there are too many systems, the accessibility of data is restricted since one has to check (and collate the information from) several databases.

Posted by kkellman over 5 years ago

We need to write something for Mexico too. there are lots of data to be published.

Posted by aztekium over 5 years ago

Add a Comment

Sign In or Sign Up to add comments