Hello iNaturalist folks!
I’m finishing up a CS degree and am looking at doing my capstone in predicting local tick populations as a function of weather and species. I don’t want to estimate the absolute number of ticks so much as the relative numbers of ticks across time and place.
Unfortunately, the relative numbers of iNaturalist observations of ticks does not give me a sense the relative numbers of ticks, because the number of iNaturalist observations is also a function of the number of iNaturalist users. For example, 10 observations of ticks in an area with 1000 iNaturalist users suggests fewer ticks than 5 observations of ticks in an area with 10 users.
So in order for me to use iNaturalist data, it seems that I need to estimate the number of iNaturalist users for each area in my sampling granularity. Ideally, I’d restrict this to the number iNaturalist users who sometimes post images of arthropods, in order to rule out those who are exclusively plant or bird photographers – just to improve the accuracy of the data by a bit.
Does the iNaturalist API provide a way for me to do this? I’m restricting the program to United States occurrences, but I might like to add Canada at some point.
The best I could figure was to acquire all locations in the United States, whittle them down to a representative set of sampling locations, and then use the user stats API to query the number of users in each sampling location. But this seems to have two problems: (1) there may be too many locations and too many users to reasonably do this, and (2) I don’t know whether a user location is the location where the user claims to reside or a location where the user has reported observations (I’d prefer the latter).
Does anyone have any suggestions for me? It seems to me that this might be a common problem with using iNaturalist data for estimating populations. Thanks for the help!