Did you know OAEC is home to over 127 species of fungi, 326 species of animalia and 290 species of plantae?
Since 2003, Brock Dolman, Director of the OAEC Wildlands Program, has been logging observations with iNaturalist, an open-source app and online program that uses citizen science to document the epic range of non-human kin living beside us.
What is iNaturalist?
iNaturalist is an online social network of ordinary people sharing biodiversity information to help each other learn about nature. Users upload photos of life phenomena that are run through iNaturalist’s AI software to help the user identify the species. This information is then corroborated by real life naturalists, and if deemed correct can be used as research grade data. This process connects people to the natural world, while creating a powerful source of data that can be accessed by the public and used for education, research and advocacy efforts.
For example, in 2020, researchers used data from iNaturalist to better understand a mass bird die off caused by toxic fumes from wildfires. In 2022, iNaturalist users documented the harmful effects of a toxic algae bloom in the San Francisco Bay Area.
At OAEC we seek to enhance the biodiversity of flora, fauna, fungi, the microbiome and create habitat for native species of vertebrates and invertebrates. A necessary part of this includes understanding and categorizing the array biodiversity present on the 80 acres that we steward. On iNaturalist, OAEC staff and visitors have made over 1,785 observations (1,080 of which are research grade data points) at OAEC. Included in these observations are 746 species of life, not just plants and animals, but protista, monera and fungi. This information was key to creating our Wildlands Stewardship Plan and informs how we implement it and adapt it over time.
OAEC has a long history of promoting ecological literacy in the broader community, a tenant that is at the core of our mission. In 2013, OAEC co-hosted Sonoma County’s first ever California Naturalist Training Intensive, in which budding naturalists learned how to observe and identify natural flora and fauna in our local area. We’re excited to share our data on iNaturalist as a tool both for beginners and seasoned naturalists alike – it sure beats hauling ID books around!
Big thanks to Taye Bright, founder of Symbiiotica and co-owner of Moon Fruit, for helping OAEC to create these “projects” on iNat.