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INaturalist logo.png
Type of site
Citizen science
Available in Arabic, Basque, Breton, Catalan, English, Finnish, French, Galician, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Macedonian, Occitan, Russian, Spanish
Owner California Academy of Sciences [1]
Commercial No
Registration required
Launched 2008;
10 years ago
Current status Online

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.[2] Observations may be added via the website or from a mobile application.[3][4] The observations provide valuable open data to a variety of scientific research projects, museums, botanic gardens, parks, and other organizations.[5][6][7] Users of iNaturalist have contributed over eight million observations[8] since its founding in 2008, and the project has been called "a standard-bearer for natural history mobile applications."[9]

History began in 2008 as a UC Berkeley School of Information Master's final project of Nate Agrin, Jessica Kline, and Ken-ichi Ueda.[1] 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 The organization merged with the California Academy of Sciences on April 24, 2014.[10] In 2014, iNaturalist celebrated its one millionth observation.[11] iNaturalist incorporated an image-based automated species identification model called "Computer Vision" into the browser and mobile apps in 2017.[12]


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.[6] iNaturalist is the preferred application for crowd-sourced biodiversity data in Mexico.[13] In 2017, the United Nations Environment Programme teamed up with iNaturalist to celebrate World Environment Day.[14]

Using the iNaturalist app in the field

As of 12 August 2017, the iNaturalist community consisted of over 500,000 users contributing over 6,600,000 observations[8] of plants, animals, and other organisms worldwide. Users have created and contributed to over 9000 different projects,[15] 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.[16] 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.[17]

See also


  1. ^ a b c "About". 5 August 2013. Retrieved 7 August 2013. 
  2. ^ "San Francisco's Parks Scoured in Wildlife Inventory". 7 May 2014. Retrieved 31 January 2015. 
  3. ^ "iNaturalist application (iTunes Store)". 25 June 2013. Retrieved 7 August 2013. 
  4. ^ "iNaturalist application (Google Play)". 4 June 2013. Retrieved 7 August 2013. 
  5. ^ "Encyclopedia of Life and iNaturalist work together to support citizen science". 18 June 2012. Retrieved 7 August 2013. 
  6. ^ a b Bowser, A., Wiggins, A., Shanley, L., Preece, J., & Henderson, S. (2014). "Sharing data while protecting privacy in citizen science" (PDF). Interactions. 21 (1): 70–73. doi:10.1145/2540032. 
  7. ^ Pimm, S.; et al. (30 May 2014). "The biodiversity of species and their rates of extinction, distribution, and protection". Science. 344: 1246752. doi:10.1126/science.1246752. PMID 24876501. Retrieved 31 January 2015. 
  8. ^ a b " Stats". 23 January 2018. Retrieved 23 January 2018. 
  9. ^ Goldsmith, G. R. (6 August 2015). "The field guide, rebooted". Science. 349 (6248): 594–594. doi:10.1126/science.aac7810. 
  10. ^ "California Academy of Sciences Acquires iNaturalist". 14 May 2014. Retrieved 14 May 2014. 
  11. ^ Hance, Jeremy (November 10, 2014). "Citizen scientist site hits one million observations of life on Earth". Mongabay. 
  12. ^ "iNaturalist Computer Vision Explorations". 2017-07-27. Retrieved 2017-08-12. 
  13. ^ Pimm, S. L.; Jenkins, C. N.; Abell, R.; Brooks, T. M.; Gittleman, J. L.; Joppa, L. N.; Raven, P. H.; Roberts, C. M.; Sexton, J. O. (2014). "The biodiversity of species and their rates of extinction, distribution, and protection" (PDF). Science. 344 (6187): 1246752–1246752. doi:10.1126/science.1246752. PMID 24876501. 
  14. ^ "App brings marvels of tech and nature together to keep the world connected". 
  15. ^ "Projects". 28 January 2017. Retrieved 28 January 2017. 
  16. ^ Seltzer, Carrie (2016-08-25). "Citizen scientists give NPS 100,000+ biodiversity records for 100th birthday". National Geographic Society (blogs). Retrieved 2016-09-17. 
  17. ^ Holtz, Debra Levi (October 10, 2011). "Reptile, amphibian BioBlitzes tap social media". San Francisco Chronicle. 

External links