Passively crowdsourcing images online for measuring broad-scale fly (Diptera) floral interactions and biodiversity

While biases exist in crowdsourced data, we show that data from photographs collected through citizen science offers potentially valuable information for monitoring pollinator-flower interactions and augment our understanding of pollinator ecology in an era of global insect declines.


Thanks for the great article.There is a lot of great material there - the essential role of flies as pollinators, the role of online photographs taken by citizen scientists as a source of data for the research, and the creative use of those photographs by the researchers.

I could not get the link to the article to work simply by clicking on it. Instead, I had to copy the url and paste it into the address bar of the browser. It was well worth the effort, though. :slight_smile:

This should work as a clickable link:

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Interesting that they specifically did not use iNat observations for their study, but relied instead on photo-sharing websites:

Although iNaturalist is becoming increasingly popular for biodiversity-related research, we did not use this database because it has limited functionality for labelling and searching interspecific interactions.

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I was intrigued by the justification that

we did not use this database because it has limited functionality for labelling and searching interspecific interactions.

I can only assume the authors were unaware of observation fields


I wondered the same thing.

However, I can also see that observation fields might not be a particularly streamlined way to get the sort of data they needed for their study – because of the plethora of different, similar fields, and because one has to be fairly familiar with iNat to figure out how to view observation fields in a way that allows one to sort by taxa. And a lot of people don’t use them at all, so this would represent only a small part of iNat’s total data set.

Also, as far as I know it is only possible to view all observations with a certain field, or observations with a certain specific value in that field, but there’s no way to sort for observations where the value in the field is (for example) any taxon within Asteraceae.

Now, I don’t know whether the methods used in the study were more efficient than extracting the relevant data from iNat observation fields.

I agree that getting data from observation fields downloaded is not immediately obvious. However, the authors weren’t looking to record the info in iNaturalist, just download photos of flies on flowers. I think they probably could have figured this out with a little searching and gotten a lot of observations suitable for their paper.

They did a lot of internet searching to get to 1275 images to use. I bet they could have gotten more images from iNat in a standardized, more efficient way by spending a small amount of time learning to use iNat. But, still ai cool idea!

On a related tangent, is there an easy way to see how many observations have values for each observation field? The observation field search is here:

But it doesn’t show number of observations using each field. If that info was available as a column on the search page, it could help newer users find the fields with the most data more easily. I could make that a feature request, but if the info is already easily available elsewhere, there might be no reason to.


yeah e.g. here are 16k observations already tagged with interactions they missed out on reviewing:>visited%20flower%20of=

also related: the (hidden) “interactions” tab: (took a while to load for me)


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