Using iNat to teach comparative biodiversity

One of my geeks is to find new ways to use iNat data to teach science concepts.

I created a Comparative Biodiversity umbrella project to compare the biodiversity of the Arctic with the Tropical rainforest. I try to keep the number of observations similar so students can better see the differences in the number of species and geographic scale of the two projects.

I’m playing around with this concept, looking at an urban area compared with a national park. Still a work in progress but I would love to see what other educators develop.


This is a neat idea. It’s clever to choose areas with comparable numbers of observations. Although there are some issues in making the comparison, the issues themselves are interesting. The students will notice right away that the geographic areas are not equal, but how different are they? Time to pull out a globe, not a flat map. To what extent are the different numbers of observations due to population density, and does this matter? To the fact that the marine environment in the Arctic is relatively inaccessible? Does this matter? How does the observed diversity within different taxonomic groups differ, and why? Such a lot to ponder.


All good points and ones I was going to write.

It also might be worth pointing out the difference between biodiversity and biomass. There are situations where an area is high biodiversity and low biomass (deserts are often an example of this), and situations where an area may have high biomass but low biodiversity (grassland ecosystems can fall into this category at times).


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