Using iNat for invasive species monitoring?


See my project ( aimed at getting pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana) listed as an Oregon noxious weed (alongside jubata grass that is already so classified). Washington and California already recognize the invasiveness of pampas grass, but we need to prevent the Oregon coast from becoming the eyesore that the northern California coast has become. A listing means that nurseries can no longer sell and landscapers can no longer plant a listed plant. While 3/4 of my observations are cultivated plants, these are the source of the invasive naturalized ones. Unlike the California invasion, the situation on the Oregon coast is not yet hopeless.Through EDRR (early detection and rapid response) perhaps we can stop the invasion. BUT the first step is to recognize the threat–that’s the purpose of this project.



@kueda I am one of the people running Vespawatch, a citizen science project directed at beekeepers, naturalists and the public on surveillance for invasive Asian hornet which is part of the surveillance for Union List invasive species regulated by the EU IAS Regulation (1143/2014) and is run by my institute (INBO). The idea of our site, where you can report observations, was a seemless early warning and rapid reponse supported by IT infrastructure. Reports can be done through our site, or through iNat and we sync back and forth. Once a nest is validated, an email is sent our to the reponsible company (mostly fire departments), who then take action on the nest. They then report on the management action through the site (this last part requires registration on our site and is still under development).

  • I think it is fair to say that linking our website to iNat was very efficient
  • I would say the approach is generally succesful in terms of following the invasion and in supporting management on the species, although we did not quantify engagement or success indicators or other yet
  • it requires dedicated human resources for stimulating volunteers to report, press releases etc.
  • there is another platform widely used in Belgium ( run by the major conservation NGO (and where my institute also supports a dedicated surveillance portal for IAS financially). We did receive a deal of criticism and non-collaboration because we chose iNaturalist (the reason for our choice was the open software which we could easily build upon, the dataflow to gbif, the rather non-naturalist target audience, the possibility of reporting without having to register - I know this is perhaps not iNaturalist’s preferred choice and the swift open-to-all peer validation) and we are still not allowed to show their records on the invasion map on our site. I could have included them as partners, but then using iNat would not have been an option. We did not yet compare hornet reports on both websites, but I think our survey yields more so clearly there is a project effect besides a recording platform effect.

We did have to deal with the criticism of getting many pictures of dead insects, and our account was suspended (and reinstated) twice by iNat curators because some people do not get that they need a picture of the actual thing they observed and thought they could just support their observation with pics from the web, which leads to copyright infringements. You can read more in our answer to some questions raised on this thread

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The EU IAS Regulation has also boosted the emergence of a few other surveys/record collections on iNaturalist, for instance: (invasive plants in Lithuania)

I know that Spain/Catalonia also have some projects related to invasive species.(e.g. seems to be built on iNat infrastructure and

One element that is perhaps interesting to mention in your talk, is that data from iNaturalist are effectively used in official regulatory processes on invasive species. Data are harvested from GBIF by the European Alien Species Information Network (EASIN) which is the official reporting tool of the EU IAS Regulation where member states have to notify the European Commission on first incursions of Union List IAS and which also serves the EU Regulation’s 6 years reporting by member states (on distribution, actions taken etc.). Hence the importance of the link to gbif.

Thanks Carrie. The FreshData platform is no longer being supported so the National Capital Region PRISM will be relying on iNat for our data needs. It is taking a lot of work to add 18,000 taxa one at a time to the list of taxa to exclude but when that is done it should be a great tool.

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