iNaturalist is a global online system for collecting wildlife observations. It uses a crowd-sourcing approach to provide help with species identification, and can also suggest identifications on the basis of image-recognition from photos. Use of iNaturalist in the UK has been growing, and in April 2021 a UK portal for iNaturalist was launched:
The NBN Trust is working with BRC and the Marine Biological Association to steer this project and make the records available more widely. As part of this we have reviewed the options for importing iNaturalistUK records into iRecord so that they can be verified and made accessible to national recording schemes, county recorders and local environmental records centres, and on to the NBN Atlas. Records from iNaturalistUK are now being imported into iRecord on a regular basis.
Which records are being imported
Records will be imported to iRecord from iNaturalistUK if they meet these conditions:
- They are from the UK, Isle of Man or Channel Islands
- They have taxon names that we can match to the UK Species Inventory
- The recorder has allocated a record licence that allows sharing (CC0, CC BY or CC BY-NC)
- The identification on iNaturalist has reached “research grade” status
The photo/s associated with the record will also be displayed within iRecord, as long as the recorder has allocated a photo licence that allows sharing
How you can help the iRecord verifiers
If you use iNaturalist, you can help the recording scheme verifiers by following these guidelines where possible:
- Choose an open licence for your records: CC0 or CC BY will enable your records to be used as widely as possible; CC BY-NC (non-commercial) can prevent records being used by some schemes and records centres. Other licence choices (such as SA and ND) are difficult to interpret for individual records, and cannot be used in iRecord or the NBN Atlas (nor on GBIF).
- If adding records to the iNaturalistUK website, ensure that you zoom in to the map when setting the location, so that the records have an accuracy measure of 100 metres or less. This will ensure that a reasonably accurate grid reference can be assigned to them on import to iRecord.
- Avoid obscuring locations unless absolutely necessary, as this can prevent them being linked to grid references of suitable precision for recording scheme use
- Provide your real name if possible; this can be added as the “Display name” in your iNaturalist profile, and will then be used as the recorder name on iRecord
- Now that the record import is in place, it is helpful if you can avoid adding the same record to both iNaturalistUK and iRecord, to avoid duplication of both records and of verifiers’ time.
The main limitation is that it is not currently possible for messages to be sent direct from iRecord back to the observers on iNaturalistUK, so there is no feedback about record verifications. There are various technical and legal hurdles to making a more direct link and this is unlikely to change in the near future.
Further information on the project as a whole is available on the NBN iNaturalistUK page.