Kia ora from New Zealand! I love iNaturalist, and as a Citizen Scientist, I can’t begin to thank all the brilliant people who have identified my observations or added comments that have taught me so much about flora & fauna in NZ. It’s wonderful to see the exponential growth of iNat obs from around the world, and I’m in awe of all the incredible creatures on this planet.
However, I do wonder, with this growth, could observers be impacting on nature in a bad way, particularly with the competitive nature of humans? Intrusion of habitats, getting too close to birds, eggs & chicks in nests, the use of flash photography on birds & animals, private collections of invertebrates & marine life (killed for the photo), collection or destruction of plants & fungi, etc etc. I know iNat is an amazing organisation for recruiting people to record nature which is becoming a valuable resource for scientists and researchers, and I know most people are respectful of nature, but sometimes I wonder will there be a cost as more people get on board, is there potential for harm?
Maybe each iNat affiliation welcome page, and new registration could have an intro message with some guidelines about observing nature with as little impact as possible? I’d be interested to hear other peoples thoughts about this. (BTW, I’d be the first person to put my hand up that I’ve done things wrong in the past with observations, but hopefully I’m more aware of my impact now!)