On both sides of the border

I am since a long time fascinated by borders of all kinds. What is similar, what is completely different.

As we all know, nature does not care about political borders, which is fine.

But it is interesting to see that on one side of a certain border there are a lot of documentations, at the other side only very few. Some observers stay on their side, some look at the the nature on both sides.

Concerning me persionally I am observing two small areas bordering directly on each other: “Stadelberg, Bonisdorf, Burgenland, Österreich” in Austria and “Sotinski Breg,Sotina 36, 9262 Rogašovci, Prekmurje, Slowenien” in Slovenia…

How do you handle it with political borders, and which countries
or federal states are involved?


I don’t have a concise answer but I feel like you might have interest in a project that I made, which is for observations that were taken on one side of the border but the actual organism is on the other. It’s kind of an uncommon occurrence so there’s not much going on in the project but if you’re interested, it is there.


I also find borders interesting, but I like observing the ones where the border has been placed at some type of natural transition - in these cases, sometimes nature does care about “the border”, though it’s really a case of the border being placed somewhere where there is a change that already mattered to living organisms before the border was put there.

The most obvious examples are islands and rivers of course, but in many cases in the US (where I have the most experience), there are shift in habitat or landforms as you cross borders. Sometimes these are due to different management practices in different states or one side of a border being protected area in one state, but not the other, etc. It is really interesting to think what might have been on the other side of a border.


If I remember right, iNat wants the location of the observer when entering records. It’s a record of the interaction. How to handle locations of far off organisms? Varies by user. Some follow the guideline and will note the distance. Some will enter the location of the organism. Some, like me, will make the uncertainty larger to include both locations (it’s often something mobile like a bird anyway).

Nature may not care about borders but the people may be restricted. A record on the wrong side of a border may be a liability whether you crossed over or not.

The only significant boundary that concerns me are public lands vs private property. I don’t intentionally trespass and I’m careful of records that may appear like I did.


borders can fragments habitat
Despite im not in the area, US / Mexico Border Naturalists is one of my favorite project, not sure how to answer you, but this may give some lights


This book might be of interest to some in the US and Mexico: Lemos-Espinal, J.A. (ed.), 2015. Amphibians and Reptiles of the US-Mexico Border States / Anfibios y reptiles de los estados de la frontera México–Estados Unidos. Texas A&M Univ. Press, College Station. x + 614 pp. Basically a summary, state by state, of the herpetofauna in these border states, in both English and Spanish. (I co-authored one of the chapters.)

There might be similar studies of borderland fauna/flora but I’m not aware of any. I still kind of wonder what the applicability of such a study is, given it’s a political boundary and not an ecological one.


I was born and bred in the UK where the sea was my only border, both political and physical, so when I started travelling, I developed a real passion for frontiers of all sorts. Although nature is obviously oblivious of political boundaries, one of the things I found fascinating is that, even when the potential natural environment should be the same, there is often a real difference between the two sides due to different cultures, different forms of land use and numerous other factors sometimes difficult to analyse.
Sadly though, the borders that sprung to my mind immediately reading the title of this thread were those contested frontiers marked on the map with suffering and pain. “On both sides of the border” could have been the title of a project I dreamed of launching in my more idealistic youth… a virtual place where lovers of nature on both sides of those disputed frontiers could come together to celebrate nature as a unifying force, transcending the myriad of differences that Homo sapiens calls into play to divide and fuel mistrust, miscomprehension and hate. Never has such a force of unity seemed so vital and so unreachable.

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Waterton Glacier International Peace Park is a great example of a coordinated set of conservation areas on both sides of a border dedicated to peace (in this case, I think the US/Canada border is the longest undefended international border in the world):


Haiti on the left, Dominican Republic on the right. Enough said.

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