PNAS special feature "Global Decline of Insects in the Anthropocene"

Hi everyone, in case you haven’t seen it, there’s a special feature covering various aspects of global insect decline. The introduction includes a chart showing iNat’s growth of insect and vertebrate observations over time

and later says

In the future, many of the richest sources of occurrence data for insects will derive from community science efforts. If the growth of iNaturalist continues at its present rate, the amount of species-level occurrence data for visually identifiable insects may surpass that of any other single source.

The opinion “Eight simple actions…” finally has a figure that includes an iNat observation of a termite-hunting ponerine ant.


This is great, thank you for sharing Jakob. Your ant is famous!

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Cheers, Matt, and this ant deserves the fame ;-)


In an article to be published later this year in the J. of Lepid. Society regarding the Crambid moth genus Petrophila, I make a similar point that, “In some cases, the number of digital images [on platforms like iNaturalist] may now approach or exceed the actual numbers of extant specimens in traditional collections.”


While I don’t want to diminish iNat’s importance, it is (for me) hard to sort out the number of observations from the increasing number of observers. I would like to get a sense of the yearly observations of Mythimna unipuncta in Canada, but I also know that the number of observers has increased. Overall records will also increase. How do I correct for that? I don’t know if it has been solved or not, but for the data to be meaningful over time, I think it should be filtered by the number of observers.
But yes, in terms of raw numbers, iNat can do far better than a place where they have to pay people to sample.

This is interesting reading. Thanks for the link.

In some research related to Lepidoptera in Texas (and not focused on specific taxa), I made a spreadsheet with columns for annual numbers of observations, numbers of uploads, number of contributing observers (for this order only), and some other stats. It was straighforward then to calculate such stats as “number of observations of Lepidoptera per contributing observer” by simple division. The extraction of the data from iNat’s Explore page is the tedious part; the spreadsheet manipulation was easy after that. I assume you could collect the same data for any given taxon.

Would this approach your “Mythimna unipuncta/observer/year” stat that you’re hoping for?


Yes, I think it would! I printed a copy of your message so it won’t get lost in the shuffle. I’m not very familiar with the more complicated parts of iNat, so thank you very much.
How are you doing with the cold weather?

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