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iNaturalist is a citizen science project and online social network of naturalists, citizen scientists, and biologists built on the concept of mapping and sharing observations of biodiversity across the globe. Observations may be added via the website or from a mobile application. The observations provide valuable open data to a variety of scientific research projects, museums, botanic gardens, parks, and other organizations. Users of iNaturalist have contributed over eight million observations since its founding in 2008, and the project has been called "a standard-bearer for natural history mobile applications."
iNaturalist.org began in 2008 as a UC Berkeley School of Information Master's final project of Nate Agrin, Jessica Kline, and Ken-ichi Ueda. Nate Agrin and Ken-ichi Ueda continued work on the site with Sean McGregor, a web developer. In 2011, Ueda began collaboration with Scott Loarie, a research fellow at Stanford University and lecturer at UC Berkeley. Ueda and Loarie are the current co-directors of iNaturalist.org. The organization merged with the California Academy of Sciences on April 24, 2014. In 2014, iNaturalist celebrated its one millionth observation. iNaturalist incorporated an image-based automated species identification model called "Computer Vision" into the browser and mobile apps in 2017.
The iNaturalist platform is based on crowdsourcing of data. Users of iNaturalist can submit observations of organisms in the form of photographs, sound recordings, or visual sightings. Observations are either "casual" or "research" grade, and research grade observations are incorporated into online databases for use by researchers. iNaturalist is the preferred application for crowd-sourced biodiversity data in Mexico. In 2017, the United Nations Environment Programme teamed up with iNaturalist to celebrate World Environment Day.
As of 12 August 2017[update], the iNaturalist community consisted of over 500,000 users contributing over 6,600,000 observations of plants, animals, and other organisms worldwide. Users have created and contributed to over 9000 different projects, spanning hundreds of themes.
Project examples include taxa- and location-specific bioblitzes, roadkill observations, animal tracks, and documenting the spread of invasive species. The US National Park Service partnered with iNaturalist to record observations from the 2016 National Parks BioBlitz. That project exceeded 100,000 observations in August 2016. In 2011 iNaturalist was used as a platform to power concurrent Global Amphibian and Global Reptile BioBlitzes, in which observations were used to help monitor the occurrence and distribution of the world's reptiles and amphibian species.
|Wikidata has the property: iNaturalist taxon ID (P3151) (see talk; )|