VINS and iNaturalist

by Anna Autilio
Lead Environmental Educator

Have you gotten into iNaturalist yet? At VINS, this citizen science project has become a favorite downtime activity for our staff. When someone spots a new wildflower blooming in the meadow, you can see at least a few of us up there with our phones out, taking pictures to document the sighting for iNaturalist. 
Using an iPad in the meadow to observe Wild Bergamot.
So what is iNaturalist? iNaturalist is “an online social network of people sharing biodiversity information to help each other learn about nature…You can use it to record your own observations, get help with identifications, collaborate with others to collect this kind of information for a common purpose, or access the observational data collected by iNaturalist users.” It’s primary goal is to connect people to nature, and secondary goal is to create a scientifically valuable biodiversity database. 

Since April 2017, VINS has had its own project on the website, the VINS Campus Index. Our aim is to create an inventory of all wild species found living at the VINS nature center, and encourage our visitors to notice and document life all around them. 

Just last week we sailed past our recent goal of documenting 250 wildlife species at VINS, and now have 262 species identified onsite by both visitors and staff, all in just 16 months of observing.

A big thanks go to everyone who helped flesh out our knowledge of the local flora and fauna (and special congrats to Linda Conrad who documented the most of any observer–100 species!). Here is the breakdown of our stats thus far:
A Pickerel Frog observed at VINS for iNaturalist.

Total Observations: 599 
Total Species: 262
Total Observers: 36
Most Observed Species: Common Snapping Turtle
Plant Species: 121 (including Butterfly Milkweed)
Insect Species: 67 (including Snowberry Clearwing)
Bird Species: 36 (including Great Horned Owl)
Mushroom Species: 16 (including Common Morel)
Mammal Species: 13 (including River Otter)
Amphibian Species: 5 (including Pickerel Frog)
Reptile Species: 4 (including Milk Snake)

…and with only 30 introduced species documented, 88% of our species are native!

Well done folks! For those of you who haven’t joined in the fun yet, join and observe for free at!

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