Contacting professors of projects to encourage students to use captive/cultivated flag when appropriate

This is a general etiquette question – would be appropriate to contact the professors of classroom projects to ask them to introduce their students to the captive/cultivated flag in iNat and what it means? Maybe this would help cut down on the number of needs_id or research grade 40 photos per semester of the same human-planted trees, shrubs, flowering plants, etc., photographed on college campuses. :)

5 Likes

I’ve definitely contacted educators in the past and politely brought this up. You can also encourage them to check out the Teacher’s Guide if they haven’t already.

6 Likes

Of course! I’m one of those professors and I also regularly bring it up in class: both the topic of “wild” vs cultivated species, as well as the topic of what we think nature is.

There’s a larger point here, though: many students, even those who are what we might think of as “environmentally literate”, don’t know the difference between wild and captive/cultivated species. They’re learning as they go. iNat helps them to learn those things over time: another reason it’s a great tool. In fact, iNat is reflecting what they see as important in the environment. In these cases I’m happy to see them learn even if their observations aren’t always some of iNat’s best.

-Brian

14 Likes

Go for it. Likewise if they leave all their obs at Unknown. Recently IDed maybe 100-200 photos of frogs and geckos which were obviously from a school / class monitoring project of some sort. You do get sick of it…

1 Like

Now if only it were obvious who the teacher is…

4 Likes

There’s clearly at least one class assignment at my local university to make 3-10 plant observations. The ID feed here has been flooded on and off with waves of the same picture of a C/C tree from 50 feet away, marked as “Unknown” since school started up again. I love that professors are introducing students to iNat and trying to use it as a teaching tool, but I wish I had contact info for the professors to encourage them to give the students a brief iNat tips and tricks/etiquette rundown before they set them loose.

4 Likes

Welcome to the Forum, @as_is_the_sea :)

I think, that the problem may concern not only teaching projects. I have just stumbled upon an open project called Botanical Garden 2020 (non-English) where there are no rules defined, so the members of the project upload almost exceptionally cultivated plants and them largely not flagged as not wild. It seems there will be a considerable increase in diversity of flora of that country. Extremely exotic one.

1 Like

It’s not always obvious, but sometimes there are projects involved you can message the project creator.

2 Likes

I would think, if the project is Botanical Garden related, that they should be interested in only cultivated specimens, and should be making that one of their filters.

The thing is, that there may be also real wildlife involved: weeds, birds, insects, small critters, but there should be at least some explanations and guidance in the project terms.

1 Like

I guess if one created a Place for the Botanic Gardens it could be slightly more obvious to identifiers when they were likely dealing with a planted specimen (as it comes up in the location).

I think that the names associated with given coordinates are generated by Google, not populated from iNat Places. Not certain though.

1 Like

Looking at this nice project in NZ - https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/gisborne-botanical-gardens

I chose an observation, and you are right, the location name next to the pin under the map for a tree in this botanical gardens is just ‘Gisborne’.

When you select Details from under the little map to see a dropdown, then it lists:
" Community Curated:
[Gisborne Botanical Gardens, GI, NZ] (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=78934)"

So it works - but you have to be curious enough about the location to look in the details.

2 Likes

I do think this is a helpful thing to do, and I also think that the distinction between feral and captive/cultivated would be a useful one to include in class discussions. I recently noticed a professor encouraging a student to mark a domestic-type Mallard as captive/cultivated, which is not necessarily accurate even though the bird was of domestic origin.

4 Likes

It’s time for the Big Button! :)
When loading a photo, you have to trip over the Big Button:
Wild / cultural

2 Likes