I want to ID snakes with Fungal Infections

There is a rapidly growing - and very deadly - fungal disease spreading in wild snake populations. It is known simply as Snake Fungal Disease, or SFD. I would like to create a traditional project because I understand that would allow me to create that subset of snakes that are found which display the characteristics of the disease. Tracking this disease is very important.

How can I create that group if it requires 50 verified observations? I manage a FB group that has a lot of observations, so I could create a regular group and start entering data, but I wouldn’t be able to specify the snakes as infected.

Any ideas?

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I’m not an administrator but they may be taking a well-earned holiday tonight, so I’ll venture a reply. Unless there have been some actual changes I don’t know about, you can create a traditional project with any number of observations. As you are a new iNaturalist member, you may be referring to the discussion about requiring new members to have submitted say 50 observations themselves before creating a project (this was aimed primarily at teachers to make sure they know how iNat works), but I’m not even sure that has been implemented (I guess if you got a message saying that, it has).

You bring up a separate issue though with your FB group. Standard procedure is for every iNaturalist member to submit only observations they’ve made themselves, not ones collected from many people. If it’s a small group, you could urge them all to join iNat and submit their observations, to be part of the project.

I think you would really benefit from using iNaturalist for a bit and getting used to it before you launch your project. It won’t take long. Submit some of your favorite snake pictures, start cultivating the folks who identify them, and start telling them what you are doing so they can take part, too.

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I can do that, but I have to be able to ID the snakes as probably SFD infected. Just adding observations of snakes wont get me closer to my goal of tracking this disease. I only recently registered but I have been using for a couple years.

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And when I clicked on the direct link to creating a trad. project I got an error that said I would need 50 verified observations first.

Another important point here: the fungus that causes Snake Fungal Disease, Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola, is itself an observable organism that can be recorded on iNaturalist. You can, from the same photo, create two observations, one of the infected snake, and one of the infection. Then you just go to: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=any&taxon_id=879908 and you have a map of every recorded observation of Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola. There are probably some applications for which you would want to have all the snakes tied to those observations in a project, and that is doable (after you’ve uploaded 50 observations of any living things) but I suggest also creating observations of the fungus itself every time.

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Very good! And I can ask that folks upload good photos of the “host”, ie the
infected snakes.

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@dievitis, that’s an excellent suggestion but I wonder if there might have to be a double-pronged approach here. Suppose Snake.Fungal.Disease looks at someone else’s observation of a snake and recognizes the disease. He/she/they can’t re-submit that same observation because it belongs to the original person. One step would be to ask the person to submit it, but that won’t always happen. There will also need to be a way to get it into the project by some kind of annotation. I bet other people have faced this kind of issue before. Hope they will make suggestions.

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OK but I think that means you personally have to have 50 verified observations, not the project.

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@janetwright good point! Snake.Fungal.Disease can, on any given observation, click on “Observation Fields” select “Tag” and then type the the tag “snake fungal disease.” This link: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=any&q=snake%20fungal%20disease will then provide a list of all observations with that tag or otherwise using those words. Currently that search brings up 28 observations, and the few I’ve randomly looked at are all suspected cases of Snake Fungal Disease.

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Welcome to iNaturalist! This refers to you as the user have to have 50 observations. There is a long but very worthy backgrounder on Upcoming Limits on making projects, places, and sending messages

I know when I first registered I immediately thought I needed to have a project for my own particular needs. In hindsight I realize that I did not. The core message in the thread is put most succinctly by the following.

Two months, 72 observations, 1412 identifications later, I understand. Do not be discouraged, I was slow on making observations! And along the way I have learned so much that I feel like I am back in the wonderful halls of academia. I personally also recommend spending some time here in the forum! As I work with iNaturalist I also remember the following quote from an interview with the co-founder:

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Hello and welcome! Yes, before you even think about creating a project on iNat, please first start making ordinary observations of any kind. Go outside with your cell phone and photograph (using the app) things like weeds, or bugs, which you can find anywhere. It is not hard to make observations of any kind of wild organism, and it can be done without making a trip to a nature preserve or similar place.

50 of your own nature observations should not be difficult to achieve. The idea (quite reasonable) is that it is essential that you get used to iNaturalist, how it works, and what the etiquette is and so on, before you even consider trying to start a “project”.

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Two things:

It’s not 50 verified observations, but rather 50 verifiable observations. This means they don’t need to be Research Grade or even be correctly identified at all. From kueda’s blog post - “A verifiable observation is an observation that has a date, a location, media evidence (image or sound), and has not been voted captive/cultivated.” They don’t even have to be organisms that you’re particularly interested in. A walk around the block could get some ants, weeds growing in the sidewalk cracks, pigeons, etc. The threshold is not designed to be onerous, but for you to get a feel for how the site works.

Second, as others have suggested, depending on your needs, a project may not necessarily be the right choice for you. This page may help you decide.
Consider whether an observation field may be all that you need. Here’s an observation field that tracks fish parasites, for example.

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Observation fields also provide an easy way to add information to others’ observations. So if someone with no connection to you has photographed a snake showing signs of SFD, you can add that information easily.

But take a little time to decide what observation fields and values will work best. For example, will SFD infection be a Yes/No field or will you need a gradient to indicate how much evidence you have?

BTW, you could also put together a friendly, informative letter to send to anyone who photographs a person handling a wild snake in an area where SFD is present explaining sanitation measures to take after handling a snake to avoid spreading the disease.

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