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Nature at Your Fingertips

Need to identify a plant, animal, or fungus? There’s an app for that! Download the iNaturalist app and take a walk through Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center.

Need to identify a plant, animal, or fungus? There’s an app for that! Download the iNaturalist app and take a walk through Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center.

Is there a hopping critter along the path? Or maybe a flower you’ve never seen before? Snap a photo and share your observation with the iNaturalist community. The app includes a search function to help you identify your observation and the option to share details and additional photos.

“Users can actually see what others have recorded in Jones Park,” says Matt Abernathy, naturalist at Jones Park. And there’s no need to provide location details on your observation. When you snap a photo, the app automatically records the date, time, and location. Jones Park started using iNaturalist to monitor wildlife populations and document plant and wildlife species throughout the park.

“With thousands of visitors to the park each year, there are limitless observations possible. And making these discoveries is truly effortless,” he says. Abernathy explains that three graduate students from the University of California at Berkley developed the app as part of a master’s project. The California Academy of Sciences acquired the app in 2014, and it quickly became a global phenomenon.

“The app gives every person the ability to be a citizen scientist,” Abernathy notes. Data from findings can be viewed and used for research and population studies. Students from Quest Early College High School are helping to regularly survey areas of Jones Park, and the park is hosting a one-day biological survey April 22 using iNaturalist to report sightings of plants and wildlife.

“iNaturalist is a fantastic program that will greatly enhance our ability to track and monitor plant and wildlife activities at Jones Park and ultimately help in park management activities,” Abernathy says. He adds that additional park programs will eventually incorporate the app. “iNaturalist is a very powerful educational tool and so easy to use. I encourage you to download the app, get out into nature, and begin making observations!”



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