I want to deal with the community on the particular use that I have been making for a while on the web platform.
I am an agricultural technician. I advise on various small farms in my region in northern Italy, the Emilia-Romagna region.
When I’m in the fields I always have my camera with me, which has built-in GPS and makes good macros, and in having fun taking pictures of insects or even mushrooms, iNat helps me understand how nature interacts in agriculture.
I therefore created a “place” for each farm I visit frequently, and a project for each farm called “agroecologia farm name”: in this way the owners and employees of the farm always have a page where they can view the discoveries I make on their fields. And they learn how important biodiversity is in agriculture. Luckily I work in organic farms, and very very sensitive about this!
But the use I make of iNat is even more complex: I work with an entomologist expert in calcidoid hymenoptera: he is not a professor, but he has been studying them for 30 years, and he has also published a book on his research. We have created a monitoring consultancy with Malaise traps, co-financed by the regionally managed CAP funds. In 2018 we made a first trial (list Malaise Trap 2018 all marked with a single test date, but the list covers the period from May to September). The list is in a project (https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/che-bestiolina-c-e-nella-mia-siepe) in which we then studied the parasitization of Brown Marmorated Stink Bug eggs, and in which we also found Trissolcus mitsukurii, identified by an expert as part of a national project on the control of Halyomorpha halys!
This year we have two farms where we put 4 Malaise traps in all: our goal is to understand biodiversity in useful chalcidoid hymenoptera, and to understand how much these can affect the biological conservation struggle: therefore a malaise trap is just on the edge between ecological corridors and semi-natural habitats, and another at the center of a crop (a vineyard, a vegetable area). We just mounted them.
Adriano, the entomologist, will identify the samples, I will insert the observations week by week, with the appropriate descriptions, which will end up in the project of each farm, which can thus be easily viewed.
Of course: Adriano does not take photos under the microscope: the alcohol samples, the many individuals, Adriano’s unfamiliarity with technology, the difficulty of taking a useful photo of such difficult and small insects, means that our observations will be without photos and will keep a “casual” category, but we could easily export and view our lists and still keep track of the observations made.
What do you think?
Those all sounds like fantastic uses of iNaturalist! Thank you for sharing your story, and welcome to the forum. :)
It is a great project and I wish we had something similar in my region. Have you looked into folscopes as decent field microscope?
But what’s the main problem about taking photos? Identifying chalcids is a process that needs magnificaction, what do you use for it?
I am glad that the idea of using INaturalist in agroecology and making farm projects interests!
I will try to convince Adriano to take photos under the microscope during identification. It’s a matter of time and habits:
time: for now it has been a free job for passion, now it is also getting paid, but very little: farms cannot afford to finance research.
habits: for an entomologist there are identification keys, bibliography and his experience, and photos are shared only with other experts on doubts, it seems to me. Sharing photos of each insect is perhaps more in the habits of a disseminator. No?
I will try to convince him.
Maybe it would convince him to let him know he’s providing data which can be used by his fellow scientists :)
In any case, it is possible to use a phone camera to photograph what’s under the microscope. You’ve got to line up the lenses just right, but you can get fine photos like (most of) these.
Entomologist do often not share their data with us, simple people, but nowadays this habit should be gone, in omputer era everyone should do their best in sharing data, and photos are one of the simplest way.
I don’t have a proper microscope for insects, but even with mine it’s possible to photograph insects (with using of flashlight for proper light from above). https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/45370777
However Adriano, like most entomologists, are simple people (intended as people without important roles in institutions).
They simply studied some insect families for passion for decades, and they did it with a very important scientific rigor.
Ah, his book: http://www.albarnardon.it/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Cazzuoli-Adriano-libro-1.jpg (where you can find some photos he took for his book)
I use a small microscope me too: https://www.inaturalist.org/photos/49128201 here is a chalcidoid that is slipping from an egg
The problem with a lot of scientists and the sharing of information is the trend of the drying up of fund for public research. Even in public research institutions, often time to get any funding, you chase partnerships with the private sector. They are not sharing people. It happened slowly but surely, anyhow in Canada. There are still some large institutions which are well funded, like the Smithsonian, but they the exceptions. A lot of the field work in natural science is now done by dedicated hobbyists.
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