• To observe and photograph natural wild life in the Greater Toronto Area
• To submit research-grade observations to the global iNaturalist citizen science project, thus contributing
directly to documenting the biodiversity inventory of our local ecosystems
• To experience directly the role of consistent observations as a starting point for scientific inquiry
• To participate in an online-community-based scientific project
• To research the current biodiversity status of your observed species in the world
TASKS IN THIS PROJECT:
• Setting up iNaturalist account, and joining our class project on iNaturalist
• Making outdoor observations (including photos) of animal and plant life
• Submitting observations to iNaturalist, for species identification
• Identifying observation(s) of fellow classmates in our iNaturalist project
• Following up with iNaturalist community responses during identification verification stages
• Further research on the biodiversity status of confirmed species
• Sept. 18: joining our project in iNaturalist
• Sept. 25: submitting observations for 1 species (minimum) to iNaturalist
• Oct. 3: submitting observations for 10 species (minimum) to iNaturalist
• Oct. 5: identifying another student’s observation (1 minimum) in iNaturalist
• Oct. 6: early-bonus (+5%) deadline for submitting final written report in Blackboard (Projects section)
• Oct. 11: submitting final written report in Blackboard (Projects section)
(These are smaller sub-deadlines to be met during the project, to encourage you to stay on track. Marks will not be given for
completing the tasks on time, but small deductions – from 1% to 4% of the project’s grade – WILL be made if they are NOT
completed on time, to meet these sub-deadlines.)
• The written report file should be submitted ONLY via Blackboard in the PROJECTS section, and NOT by email.
Emailed projects will NOT be accepted for grading.
• The report file MUST be submitted in a Word/editable format, to be properly run through the SafeAssign
software (in Blackboard) to return an Originality Report. If originality report is missing for any reason (such asiNaturalist Project SCIE 3200: Citizen Science (Online)
due to an improper file format being submitted (such as .pdf) and/or exceeded file size (due to large images
included)), a deduction will be applied.
What is iNaturalist?
The citizen science project is first described in our Lesson 7: Projects in Environment.
Video: iNaturalist (3 minutes)
(More optional videos by iNaturalist project are available here: https://vimeo.com/user7188222/videos)
Part 1: Joining iNaturalist
iNaturalist has great video tutorials on how to set up a new account, and join our project,
Video: Creating an Account & Changing Account Settings (4 mins)
Make sure to set up your account using your first and last name, same as it appears in our
course in Blackboard, with the following format:
(my example: TatianaPaulin)
After you have created your username and profile in iNaturalist, make sure to join our project
Project name: Humber College – Citizen Science Course (Fall 2017)
It is very important that all observations – each individually! – you submit are also
‘added’ to this project collection. (See the second video tutorial on how to submit
observations, to follow.) If they are not ‘added’ to the project collection, then they will not be
visible to me for grading.iNaturalist Project SCIE 3200: Citizen Science (Online)
Part 2: Collecting Observations Outdoors
One of the primary objectives of this project is to collect many observations (including photos)
of wild animal and plant life in our local ecosystems, in order to document and track the
biodiversity of our local habitats, and then submit them to the iNaturalist citizen science project.
• Minimum 10 separate species must be observed and submitted to iNaturalist,
including minimum 1 species from at least 3 of the ‘kingdoms’ (animal, plant, fungi). Try
to include as much variety of species in your observations as possible.
• Ideally, all of your submitted observations should also be identified – by the iNaturalist
community members confirming the identification – down to the species level.
• Only wild/naturalized organisms are suitable for this project, since the goal is to
catalogue wild life in its natural habitat. (So no potted plants, gardens, household pets,
domesticated animals, zoos, farms, aquariums, etc.)
• Observations must be taken from around the GTA and its surroundings (Ontario) areas,
in the current semester during the course. (So no animals seen on a vacation to the
tropical islands, for example.)
• Only your own photos may be used for the submissions, to follow the copyright laws. If
any of your submitted observations to iNaturalist become red-flagged by the iNaturalist
community, as possibly being plagiarized or otherwise dishonest, then your iNaturalist
account may be blocked, as well as other academic dishonesty consequences pursed
in the course, with a minimum penalty of zero on the entire project.
• Ideally, all submitted species should reach the research grade status in the iNaturalist
community, as explained here:
o What is the quality assessment and how do observations qualify to become
“research” grade? http://www.inaturalist.org/pages/help#quality
• Make sure to record the date, location (lat. and long. If possible, or select the nearest
intersection on the map) and take multiple photos of each species
• Photos from at least 2 different angles/views, of each organism, must be taken, to help
with making a more accurate species identification. It is also good practice – as much
as possible – to include measuring objects (such as rulers, or coins, etc) for scale
nearby, to help give a sense of the object’s size. Example:iNaturalist Project SCIE 3200: Citizen Science (Online)
Note: our project will be set up as a ‘contest’ in iNaturalist, keeping tally of students with
highest submissions/species, as a friendly competition, with a possible minor bonus mark for
the ‘winner’ of the contest, based on observations submitted by the project’s deadline.
Part 3: Submitting Observations to iNaturalist
See the second video tutorial here, on how to submit your observations to iNaturalist.
Video: Adding an Observation (7 minutes)
Again, remember to also ‘add’/submit your observations to our course’ project
collection, after first submitting the observations online as individual entries.
Part 4: Identifying Your Own Observations
You are expected to make at least a first initial effort at suggesting a possible identification (ID)
for all your organisms, during the submission stage, with the help of the ‘Look Up’ feature first.
Usually iNaturalist community members will also suggest identification for your observations,
fairly quickly. If in a couple of days that hasn’t happened yet, then you can use the ‘ID
Please?’ feature (go back to edit your observation, and select that checkbox, near top-centre),
to flag your observation as explicitly needing help with identification.
Part 5: Identifying a Classmate’s Observation
You must attempt to identify at least one (1) observation submitted by another classmate, to
our class project, that hasn’t yet been identified by other community members. In other words,
the classmate should have attempted identifying his/her observations originally, which is fine;
however you should, ideally, attempt to also identify only those observations that do not yet
have identifications made by other iNaturalist community members.
Part 6: Responding to iNaturalist Community
The iNaturalist community will be helping you to identify your observations as precisely as
possible, depending on the quality of your photos and descriptive information. When ID
suggestions are made by other members, then the observation becomes more ‘supported’ in
its identification stage. If you feel their ID suggestions are reasonable, then click on the ‘agree’
link beside it.iNaturalist Project SCIE 3200: Citizen Science (Online)
IMPORTANT: If you have used the ‘ID Please?’ help feature, and have since received help
from the iNaturalist community to identify your observation down to the species level, make
sure to go back to your submission and uncheck the ‘ID Please?’ box, so that it isn’t left ‘on’
unattended. (You are expected to maintain the ‘etiquette’ of usage and communication in the
iNaturalist community, which includes monitoring your own help requests, and turning them off
after you have received the help.)
Follow up also with any comments, or requests for further clarification, that the members might
have made for your observation, in order to help you identify properly.
Part 7: Written Report
(To be Submitted in Blackboard, in the Projects Section)
The following questions should be answered based on your own observations. The report can
be written in a sequenced question number format as listed below, with APA format references
at the end.
Note: My observation of the barred owl is listed below as a working example. You must delete
it from the table when completing your own summary table.
1. Summary of Observations
(Tip: reduce the
original picture size
before pasting it
here in the table, to
prevent large file
2 .. .. .. .. .. ..iNaturalist Project SCIE 3200: Citizen Science (Online)
2. Summary of Statistics
How Many?.. Of each category below
research-grade observations ID’d to species or lower
classifications changed to something different from
what you first suggested
3. Biodiversity Status of Species
Choose 3 observations, identified to species level (ideally), from the 3 different kingdoms.
(Ideally these should be the more rare species, rather than the common species like ants.)
Research – from academic/scholarly sources – their biodiversity status in the original habitat in
which you have observed them, completing a 1-page write-up (double-spaced) for each
species. Consider these questions during your research:
• What is their current biodiversity status? (Threatened? Endangered? Thriving?)
• What are their historical trends for changing biodiversity? (if known)
• What sources of threat exist to them? (Natural predators? Humans? Human
• What are some possible consequences to their ecosystems if this species were
to go extinct, or greatly diminished in population? (endangered)
• What efforts (if any) are currently happening to help preserve this species?
4. Community Interaction
Discuss the role of the iNaturalist community to you specifically for this project. How did the
community help you, if at all? How did you interact with them, if at all? Did this interaction illicit
further insights, beyond just help with identifying the observations in iNaturalist? How do you
think accomplishing the same task (identifying your own observations down to species level,
with confidence) in a non-citizen-science project setting would have been different, if at all?iNaturalist Project SCIE 3200: Citizen Science (Online)
5. Personal Reflection
Provide a final personal reflection (half-page minimum, 1 full page maximum, double-spaced)
on your participation in this citizen science project. Some possible – but not the only ones
necessarily – questions to consider are:
• Were there any surprises for you along the way, during this project? What
were your most and least favourite parts of this project?
• How do you think your contributions to iNaturalist may be helpful to science,
and preservation of biodiversity in our region?
• How do you think this project (in our course) could be improved further?
Provide all sources used during your research in a final reference section, in APA format. For
further help with APA format, please see these resources:
(click on ‘Academic Writing’, and/or ‘Research’, options)
Videos: APA in Minutes
7. Avoiding Plagiarism
Make sure to carefully review, and follow, the guidelines for avoiding plagiarism, as described
in the document ‘Avoiding Plagiarism: A Quick Reference Guide’, posted with these
instructions in Blackboard.
As a tool to help you improve the integrity of your written work, your report will be checked
using the SafeAssign tool in Blackboard, and you will receive a SafeAssign originality report
after your first attempt, showing you the ‘score’ of how much of your report has been matched
with other written sources, as an indication of how much of your report is ‘copied’ (matched)
from other sources. This score should be no higher than 20% (i.e. your report should contain
no more than 20% writing that is considered copied, from other sources). Note that the
software is not always context-perfect: it will find matches between URLs (references listed),
and/or titles of specific articles used as research sources, etc. These do NOT count as true
examples of ‘plagiarism’. Your detailed originality report will show you all specific instances of
where the matches were found; references/URLs/etc matches can be ignored. However,iNaturalist Project SCIE 3200: Citizen Science (Online)
significant matches in the actual written work of your report – which should be all written in
your own words – should be cause for further work on fixing your report, to ensure its
Use this report as a LEARNING TOOL and opportunity, to first understand more clearly what
plagiarism is, and second to fix your report, before final submission. You can resubmit your
report as many times as you wish, before the final project deadline, so that only the final copy
will be the graded version.