I’ve finally begun to carry out a project I’ve long wanted to do: cataloguing all the trees in my neighborhood. I’m only observing those in people’s front yards and on public land, obviously. I’ve been doing a city block every few days. is there anything else I could be doing in order to enhance the quality of the project and maybe interest others in contributing observations? Any and all suggestions welcome and greatly appreciated!
As long as you mark planted trees as captive it sounds fine, you could print some ads about how to do it with qr codes.
In general, IDing a bunch of the same thing (especially if captive) has diminishing returns. But if your GPS is really good I agree this is a neat service you can provide to others in your area, to help them ID things.
I find the accuracy of your GPS makes a big difference, and there are some tricks you can do to improve it. I find the quality of my GPS gets better when I turn on navigation in the AllTrails app before doing my iNatting. Then, afterward, I try to manually add a precision term to say that it’s usually not up to the 2m standard but something closer to 5-10m. I notice that the GPS coordinates often seem to be a little shifted relative to the aerial image, and don’t know if the problem is the aerial or the GPS! But anyway these are all things to think about.
Good luck with the project!
I’ve noticed this too. I only sometimes have GPS info with my pictures, so I’m used to manually setting the location. For those that do have GPS, I use it only as a starting point, since it’s usually near (but not at) the true location. So yes, at the very least increase your precision value, but preferably manually edit to be sure the location is correct.
Not always diminishing returns. As part of her urban ecology work a friend of mine did almost exactly what OP is doing, identifying and mapping every urban tree (public space) in the city she was working in.
In certain cases IDing a bunch of the same thing has higher returns than sporadically doing so.
It’s also helpful to add the phenology Annotations as you go (what’s flowering, what’s fruiting, etc.) That will be interesting for folk to repeat in future years on the same trees, to see how climate change has shifted the timing of flowering and fruiting.
At the moment you can access Annotations on the web but not the iNat app. However, if you set up a traditional project for your observations, you can add recommended observation fields to it, like “Plant flowering” and “Plant mature fruit/seeds”. You can add observations to your project on the iNat app, and enter these observation fields as you go. Fields like I mentioned are automatically interpreted by iNat as Annotations on the website.
This could be a very important project, it will show what trees thrive and what trees can be grown in that climate zone, very helpful to the gardening people, sometimes this data is more accurate when collected by an observer in person, than a researcher making ‘safer’ conclusions, for example I live in a cooler climate (I think USA zone 9 or 10, actually it’s somewhere in-between) in South Africa so planting in my garden is always limited, mostly due to frost but anyway when doing research on what will survive and what won’t my options looked bleak, although when I actually started to take a note of the tree species when I see them, I started to notice how inaccurate most literature on the climate tolerance of tree species actually is, so I decided to push the boundaries a bit and see what else can grow here and I’m currently sitting with about 6 species of trees that I previously wouldn’t have even dreamed of growing, and all are doing just fine (they do need a bit of attention to prep for winter but it takes about 5min each, so 30min a year of work to grow the 6 trees is not really ‘extra effort’ in my opinion)… That all said, if you understand the topic you’ll know it boils down to microclimates, but to the novice gardener I would be very helpful and inspiring to see what can really be grown in the area for first hand accounts, rather than read about it in a book written by someone who lives zone 12 and is not interested in what CAN grow in cooler zones
Cape Town is using iNat to map the spread of the dreaded beetle. Recording which trees are still healthy (or immune?) and which are showing infection and need to be removed, carefully and promptly.
Definetely involve your neighbors! maybe you’ll get some new people to join iNat! Maybe type up a letter explaining your project, with a link to your project and also something explaining iNat and how to sign up. Oh, and include your number or email too if they have any questions. Then go around and stick them in people’s mailboxes-- you’ll likely get at least a few people!
It is because google uses WGS84 (Auxillary Spere). They basically assume that the Earth is a sphere.
A couple of thoughts:
Hopefully you are already doing this, but please make sure to mark trees that were planted as not wild.
Since you describe your project as a survey, you might wish to consider whether you are documenting tree biodiversity or individual trees. In the latter case, you need to find a way to designate specific trees, so that if other people get involved and start adding observations it is possible to link records that are all for the same tree (or you need to coordinate with others so that nobody uploads duplicates of individuals that are already represented). A system for labelling specific trees also might be desirable if you plan to deliberately observe trees repeatedly so as to capture phenology data.
If you want to encourage neighbors to get involved documenting the trees on their own property, you should be aware that not everyone will find it safe or appealing to post information online that could reveal their exact address. Potential privacy concerns will need to be taken into account, both when trying to recruit others to participate and when curating your data set. Many iNat users use one method or another to obscure observations made at their place of residence. This again has ramifications for your project – the coordinates may not be exact, or the obscuration feature will place observations from the same site at different random locations within the obscuration box.
If you are using an iNat project for collecting the relevant tree observations from your neighborhood, involving neighbors will likely include not just convincing them to create an iNat account, but also to join the project and potentially trust you with their obscured coordinates.
Folks: thanks so much for all this good info! I will follow all your advice!
This sounds like an awesome project! Excited to hear how it goes!
Side note that in the US you should not place anything in/on someone’s mailbox - it’s only for posted USPS mail, and it’s a federal crime to do this:
It’s rarely prosecuted, but if someone raises a complaint to their local post office or has a particularly vigilant/industrious/annoyed mail carrier, it does happen sometimes (based on my experience as a USPS employee) - though I’ve been told an initial issue/one that doesn’t involve a ton of fliers usually just leads to a stern warning.
As an alternative, you can use door hangers or similar (basically anything that doesn’t involve an actual mailbox).
Yikes, did not know that. Thanks, I will remember that
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