Meet Cheng-Tao Lin (@mutolisp), an iNaturalist Monthly Supporter

This is the second interview in a series getting to know members of the iNaturalist community who are also Monthly Supporters.

Cheng-Tao Lin (@mutolisp) is an Assistant Professor at National Chiayi University, Taiwan. As a vegetation ecologist, he saw the value of iNaturalist and started promoting it in Taiwan. He has extensively translated the iNaturalist website and mobile apps into Traditional Chinese on Crowdin. In addition to incorporating iNaturalist into his university teaching, he has given more than 30 presentations about iNaturalist and supports a Facebook group for iNaturalist users in Taiwan (you can see a recording of a recent workshop). His translation and outreach efforts have contributed to the rapid growth in activity there since 2018 through cooperation and partnership with the Taiwan Forestry Research Institute, Endemic Species Research Institute, The Society of Wilderness and Yushan National Park Headquarters. Taiwan now has over 1 million observations total and is on track to pass 1 million verifiable observations later this year (check out this blog post from 2019 for some recent history).

How did you first get into iNaturalist?
I acknowledged iNaturalist was around in 2014, but I did not actually use it. In October 2017, I first introduced iNaturalist to our “environment and nature conservation” course in our curriculum of environmental education. I thought the iNaturalist platform would be a good place for students to observe, collect and identify organisms, and I designed a lesson plan for discovering invasive species in our campus. For most of the students, they only know invasive species in the textbook, such as the green iguana (Iguana iguana) and bitter vine (Mikania micrantha). Through the course task, students can explore and identify possible invasive species by themselves. Some species seem normal or unharmful, but when the students observe, search and read the details on iNaturalist, they just realized the species are invasive. After this small teaching experiment, I realized that iNaturalist is a good biodiversity and collaboration platform and has high potential to engage people organizing projects to do citizen science and promoting nature knowledge.

What made you want to donate monthly, in addition to everything else you do with iNaturalist?
I think iNaturalist is a wonderful platform for ecologists, nature observers, conservationists and educators. Through the collaboration between the public and scientists, we can explore, record, and understand many species around us, even sometimes we could find newly recorded species or rare ones. These data are valuable for biodiversity and ecological research, and everyone could use them for any purpose. And the most important thing on iNaturalist platform is “free” — one side is free for use, and the other is the free data. So I think I can contribute my best to support such a great biodiversity platform, and I hope there are more and more people who can support the maintenance of iNaturalist to keep it sustainable.

What keeps you motivated?
I think the main reason to keep using and contributing to iNaturalist is the “open data/source” policy. Openness, in other words, transparency, is quite important for science and conservation policy. Some people think the biodiversity/ecological data they collected is their property and want to keep the ownership. However, I think I am only the observer to record these ecological or biodiversity data, I do not have the ownership and it should belong to everyone on this planet. Through such an “open data” concept, the citizen scientists and scholars can collaborate and use such a large data set to concatenate every small water drop into a mainstream, and apply scientific methods to analyze, interpret and provide evidence for conservation policies. In the past few years promoting iNaturalist in Taiwan, I am glad to be a connector among the NGOs, educators, and the government agencies. Many government agencies have already seen the potential of iNaturalist and try to cooperate with local communities and organizations, which is an important step for biodiversity research and biodiversity mainstreaming. I think if more and more people are aware about our environment and organisms surrounding us, we can achieve a sustainable and healthy society soon.

What’s something that you’d like more members of the iNaturalist community to know or do?
Keep learning and exploring! I think iNaturalist is just like a virtual museum for everyone to learn about biodiversity, especially under the pandemic of covid-19, most people were quarantined at home and we can view many fantastic organisms all over the world virtually via iNaturalist. Although we are limited by the pandemics, we can try to help other people to identify organisms, organize local checklists, write biodiversity knowledge for popular science, and even dig up photos from your disks to upload observations!

Thank you to @mutolisp and all of the Monthly Supporters! iNaturalist Monthly Supporters give automatic, recurring charitable donations and can be recognized on their profile pages, if they choose to from their account settings. Monthly Supporters are a critical part of our community and help ensure that iNaturalist is freely available to people all over the world. You can become a Monthly Supporter by giving your first recurring donation online. Thank you!

iNaturalist thrives thanks to deeply dedicated and enthusiastic community members like Cheng-Tao. We’re grateful to everyone who is generous with their time, expertise, and other gifts. For the rest of 2021, we'll profile several different Monthly Supporters to highlight members of the community and why they support iNaturalist.

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iNaturalist is a joint initiative of the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society. All donations will be received by the California Academy of Sciences, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt not-for-profit organization based in the United States of America (Tax ID: 94-1156258). Gifts can be made online in more than 40 different currencies via bank account, credit/debit card, or PayPal.

Posted by carrieseltzer carrieseltzer, July 30, 2021 21:37

Comments

Amazing!!!!

Posted by amarzee 3 months ago (Flag)

Thanks @mutolisp for your great work in Taiwan!

Posted by langzi 3 months ago (Flag)

Thank you , Cheng-Tao Lin for helping to make iNaturalist such a great resource and community!

Posted by driftlessroots 3 months ago (Flag)

Thank you Cheng-Tao Lin for your clear and persuasive support of iNat!

Posted by susanhewitt 3 months ago (Flag)

Great job Prof Lin! I'm also now a (small) monthly supporter.

Posted by ezeemonee 3 months ago (Flag)

I appreciate your social vision and the efforts you've put forward to share iNaturalist and your appreciation of the sciences with community leaders, professor Lin!
Excellent work with helping to translate the platform! I hope to do this as well, but still have much to learn.

To all those involved, thank you for taking the time for this interview. It is helpful for me to learn how other people share love of nature and environmental conservation, and this blog is inspiring to me.

Posted by svvedni 3 months ago (Flag)

Such an amazing story!

Posted by rangermyles 3 months ago (Flag)

Thanks iNaturalist for providing such a great biodiversity platform for us! We will keep exploring and discovering the nature and engage more people for biodiversity conservation.

Posted by mutolisp 3 months ago (Flag)

Congratulations Professor Cheng-Tao Lin for your dedication, your enthusiasm for the biodiversity of the planet, your sharing of expertise and collaboration with others, and your role as a connector. Impressive and vital work!

Posted by gecko9 3 months ago (Flag)

Following is the Traditional Chinese translation (以下是正體中文翻譯,也請臺灣的使用者有意願的話可以成為贊助者!)

這是對 iNaturalist (愛自然)社群成員,同時也是每月贊助者的第二次訪談。

林政道(@mutolisp)是臺灣國立嘉義大學的一名助理教授。作為一個植群生態學者,他看到了 iNaturalist 的價值而開始在臺灣推廣。他在 Crowdin 平台上將 iNaturalist 網站行動裝置 app 大部分介面翻譯成正體中文。除了將 iNaturalist 納入他的課程教學外,他也講了 30 多場關於 iNaturalist 的演講及工作坊並建立 Facebook 的社團來支援臺灣的使用者(您可以在此看最近一次工作坊錄影)。在他的翻譯與推廣的努力下,並透過行政院農委會林業試驗所行政院農委會特有生物研究保育中心荒野保護協會玉山國家公園管理處的合作夥伴關係與經費支援,讓臺灣從 2018 年以後的 iNaturalist 活動快速增長。臺灣目前已經有超過一百萬筆觀察紀錄,並有望在今年年底前超過一百萬可證實的觀察紀錄(請查閱 2019 年的這篇部落格貼文,以了解一些最近的歷史)

您第一次是如何接觸到 iNaturalist 的?

我大概在 2014 年知道有這個網站,但我並沒有真正去使用。2017 年 10 月,我第一次將 iNaturalist 導入到我們環境教育學程的「環境與自然保育」課程中。我認為 iNaturalist 平台可以讓學生觀察、收集和鑑定生物,因此我設計了一個讓學生可以探索校園內入侵生物的教案。對於大多數學生而言,他們只知道課本上所提到的入侵物種,像是綠鬣蜥(Iguana iguana)和小花蔓澤蘭(Mikania micrantha)。但透過課程的任務,學生可以自己探索和鑑定可能的入侵物種。有些物種看似正常或無害,但當學生在 iNaturalist 觀察、搜尋和閱讀細節後,他們才可能發現這些物種是入侵種。經過這個小小的教學實驗,我意識到 iNaturalist 是一個很好的生物多樣性協作平台,在吸引大眾來組織專案進行鄉民(公民)科學研究和推廣自然知識方面具有很大的潛力。

除了在 iNaturalist 上所作的一些活動外,是什麼原因讓你想固定每月捐款?

我認為 iNaturalist 對於生態學者、自然觀察者、保育團體和教學者來說是一個非常好的平台。透過鄉民(公民)和科學家之間的合作,我們可以來探索、記錄和了解我周遭的許多物種,甚至有時候我們可以發現新紀錄的物種或是稀有物種。這些資料對於生物多樣性和生態研究是非常有價值的,每個人都可以把它們用於任何目的上。而 iNaturalist 平台上最重要的是「free」— free 有兩種含義,除了「免費」使用之外,另一個則是「自由」的資料 。所以我想我可以為支持這樣一個很好的生物多樣性平台來貢獻自己的力量,我也希望有愈來愈多的人可以支持 iNaturalist 營運,讓它能夠永續發展。

是什麼原因讓你有這樣的動力?

我認為持續使用並貢獻 iNaturalist 的主要原因是「開放資料/開源(open data/open source)」政策。開放性,換句話說就是透明度,這對於科學研究和保育政策相當重要。有些人認為他們所收集的生物多樣性/生態學資料是他們的個人財產,希望能保留所有權。然而,我認為我只是剛好記錄這些生態或生物多樣性資料的觀察者,我沒有它們的所有權,它們應該是屬於這個星球上所有人的。透過這樣的「開放資料」觀念,鄉民(公民)科學家和學者們可以一起合作,使用這樣一個龐大的資料庫,將每一滴小水滴串流成大河,運用科學的方法來進行分析、解讀,為保育的政策提供支持證據。在過去幾年臺灣推廣 iNaturalist 的過程中,我很高興能成為非政府組織、教育工作者和政府機關之間的連結者。許多政府機關已經看到了 iNaturalist 的潛力,並試圖與在地社區與組織合作,這是生物多樣性研究和生物多樣性主流化的一個重要步驟。我認為,如果愈來愈多的人能了解我們的環境和周遭生物,我們可以很快地實現一個永續的健康社會。

你希望讓 iNaturalist 社群中更多的成員知道或做到什麼?

持續學習與探索!我覺得 iNaturalist 像是一個虛擬的博物館,讓大家能了解生物多樣性,特別是在新冠肺炎的大流行下,大部分的人被隔離在家裡頭,我們可以透過 iNaturalist 來虛擬旅行去觀察世界各地許多神奇的生物。雖然受到新冠肺炎大流行的限制,但我們還是可以嘗試幫助別人來鑑定生物、整合當地的物種名錄、撰寫生物多樣性科普知識,甚至從你的硬碟中挖照片出來上傳過去的觀察紀錄!

感謝 @mutolisp 和所有每月贊助者!iNaturalist 每月贊助者可以自動定期捐款,在帳號設定中也可以選擇讓個人資料頁面上顯示標記為贊助者。每月贊助者是我們社群中很重要的成員,他們協助確保 iNaturalist 能夠持續免費提供給全球大眾。您可以透過線上定期捐款來成為每月贊助者。感恩您!

iNaturalist 的蓬勃發展得益於像政道這樣身具奉獻精神和熱情的社群成員。我們感謝每位慷慨地提供額外時間、專業知識和其他貢獻的人。在 2021 年剩下的時間中,我們將介紹幾個不同的每月贊助者,傑出的社群成員以及他們支持 iNaturalist 的原因。

iNaturalist 是由加州科學院國家地理學會共同支持的計畫。所有捐款將由加州科學院來接受,加州科學院是設置在美國的 501(c)(3) 免稅的非營利組織(稅籍編號:94-1156258)。捐款可透過銀行帳號、信用卡/簽帳金融卡或是 PayPal 以 40 多種不同的貨幣在線上支付

Posted by mutolisp 3 months ago (Flag)

Thank you @mutolisp for making iNaturalist awesome in Taiwan!
感謝 @mutolisp 讓 iNaturalist 在台灣變得很棒!

Posted by loarie 3 months ago (Flag)

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