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Naturalist to discuss new social network for nature buffs

Workshop on iNaturalist
May 14, 2020
Maine Master Naturalist Roger Rittmaster will hold a virtual workshop on the nature app, iNaturalist June 4.

Camden — The Camden Public Library, in partnership with Coastal Mountains Land Trust, will present Maine Master Naturalist Roger Rittmaster Thursday, June 4, at 6 p.m. for a look at the nature app, iNaturalist. This online presentation will be conducted via the Zoom meeting platform. Email jpierce@librarycamden.org to request a link to participate.

iNaturalist, a joint initiative by the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society, is a program that uses artificial intelligence to identify a plant or animal in a photograph. Besides providing information about a species, the program allows amateur naturalists to contribute to biodiversity science. iNaturalist is an online social network of people sharing biodiversity information to help each other learn about nature. “When I checked today, over 37 million photographs from around the world had been submitted by over 127,000 individuals,” said Rittmaster.

“Once a photograph is submitted, other people, including experts, will often confirm the identification, which then becomes 'research grade,' ” said Rittmaster. iNaturalist also shares user findings with scientific data repositories like the Global Biodiversity Information Facility to help scientists find and use the data.

Rittmaster said, “There is also an ‘Explore’ function, which allows the user to create a search of photographs based on species, location, photographer, and a number of other criteria.”

Rittmaster suggest people who plan to participate in the June 4 program download the iNaturalist app onto their computer, tablet or smartphone and set up a free account ahead of his presentation. He also suggests having a specimen (like a leaf or flower) on hand to photograph. This will allow participants to watch Rittmaster’s presentation (on a separate device) and follow along in real time on their own iNaturalist account as he dives into some of the application’s features.

Rittmaster is a retired endocrinologist, who has a lifelong interest in natural history and nature photography. Over the past 15 years he has focused on photographing insects. He is the author of “Butterflies Up Close: A Guide to Butterfly Photography.” He currently serves on the Board of Coastal Mountains Land Trust and is past Chairman of the Camden Conservation Commission.

For more information, visit librarycamden.org.

Pictured is the butterfly, Godyris duillia.
Rittmaster stops for a photo.
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