iNaturalist Projects in the PA Highlands
Combining the value of citizen science with species identification, iNaturalist gives everyday people the ability to connect with their local environment and identify the flora and fauna they observe.
Looking for a way to connect with the PA Highlands in an unconventional way? One of the most popular nature apps, iNaturalist, can help you and your family participate in valuable citizen science or simply learn more about the plant and animal species in your region. This app allows scientists, students, adults and naturalists to connect and create a database with thousands of documented species. It can help you identify certain animals or plants you have never seen before, while simultaneously creating research quality data for scientific projects to help conserve and protect nature.
Citizen science is a crucial contributor of knowledge and data to a broader scientific base. It helps get people involved in their local environment, which can lead to more knowledgeable and concerned citizens that advocate for change. This type of empowerment is pivotal in creating community engagement. Citizen science is also a very cost-effective method to collect a variety of data points across large regions and time periods. All of the data submitted is verified by scientists, but it can be very helpful and time saving to have the local community aid their research.
There are a variety of ways for citizens in the PA Highlands region to learn more about their local nature through iNaturalist.
If you live in Franklin County, PA, you can contribute to the Discover the Birds project. In order to contribute, you can take photos of the birds you see in this area and upload them find out what species it is and contribute to data on the most observed species in the area.
The American Robin, one of the most common birds observed in Franklin County. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Lancaster County, PA also has a project focused on bird species for those interested in bird watching, or families who want to get their kids outside to learn about the different birds in the area. You can also visit their site to view other people’s photography and learn about some of the more rare species of birds in the area.
If you’re more interested in other types of wildlife, you can visit the Hopewell Furnace and French Creek area to document your wildlife encounters and help get them identified by experts in the field.
Anthracite Furnace in Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
iNaturalist is a database for both wildlife, and plant species. The Lower Susquehanna area has a myriad of beautiful flora species that can be viewed here. There are over 45,000 observations, and almost 2,000 people to help identify the type of flora you upload to widen your plant knowledge.
If you wish to contribute to a conservation project, the Nature Conservancy is an extremely reputable environmental organization that fights for the protection of land and waterways across America. They currently have a project situated in Pennsylvania and Delaware where all of the plant and animal observations will be used for their conservation efforts.
A Blinded Sphinx found in PA for the Nature Conservancy Project. Credit: inaturalist.org
iNaturalist is also an excellent way to help people identify invasive species in their region. Spotted Lantern Flies are currently wreaking havoc on the ecosystems in the PA Highlands region. You can visit this project here, and get help identifying these invasive bugs to try and kill them when you see them.
Whether you want to contribute to citizen science conservation efforts, or just want to track the different species you see in your area, iNaturalist has projects for everyone. To learn more about their mission, or to find more details about how the process works please visit https://www.inaturalist.org.
Written by Emma Coppock, Conservation Policy Intern
The Pennsylvania Highlands is a 1.4 million acre region that encompasses parts of 13 counties and boasts unique ecological and cultural resources that contribute to the economic and aesthetic value of the area, as well as provides opportunities for outdoor recreation and enjoyment. To learn more, visit pahighlands.org.
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