Do you want to be a citizen scientist?

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We are on iNaturalist! And you, do you also want to be a citizen scientist?

When we think of scientific research, in any field, we often associate it with experts – scientists who have spent years studying and perfecting their knowledge through experience in a particular area. But is science exclusive to professionals?

Citizen science is a relatively recent term but with a growing popularity. The name is self-explanatory! Answering the previous question: No, science doesn’t have to be exclusive to professionals. To a certain extent, it can involve collaboration from everyone! Citizen science is practiced also by ordinary citizens, with no prerequisites for experience; it is inclusive and democratic. Best of all, it allows interaction with experts in the field. Anyone of us, as long as there’s interest, can contribute to scientific research. Whether through data collection, experimentation, or raising questions and doubts that need to be answered!

iNaturalist: a platform for citizen science

There are various ways to do this, but the easiest and most practical way to contribute as a citizen to science is through the iNaturalist platform. And what is that?

iNaturalist is a project aimed at mapping biodiversity worldwide! On this platform, you can record species of animals, plants, or fungi, along with their geographical location!

This data collection is made by observers who can be experts in botany or biology, regular amateurs and enthusiasts in these areas, or even the general public with casual contributions. All data are confirmed by experts within that digital community, ensuring the credibility and accuracy of the research results that can be derived from them. This platform is international, so, in the specific case of Portugal, you can access the respective network, or sub-network, created by the Biodiversity4All Association and named after the organization itself.

All countries and their respective organizations can create their network of observation locations, allowing for more efficient data management, collection, and georeferencing adapted to the reality of each location.

Do you want to be part of this community of citizen scientists?

If you are interested, want to support this community, and are curious about discovering the species of plants or animals around you, you can do so very easy.

But attention! Even on digital platforms, there are some conduct norms and best practices that must be respected.

Here are some tips and best practices:

  • Take photos from various perspectives (general and detailed). This allows the community to help you more easily identify the species correctly.

  • If you find a rare or threatened species, do not remove it from the location. Record it but do not share the exact location of these species.

  • Accept the challenge of finding the greatest number of species, climbing the rankings of observers and identifiers, but don’t forget that registering reliable and credible data is fundamental.

  • If you’re unsure about the species, select a general category. The community will support and suggest possible species. You can also contact them via message and ask your questions to those who suggest species.

  • Through this link, you can find more guidelines for using this platform ethically.

Why are we talking about citizen science in Rota Vicentina?

Within this platform – iNaturalist – Rota Vicentina decided to make its small contribution by creating a user to register the species we spot on the walking trails.

Taking into account the goal of mapping and preserving threatened species, we have also developed the citizen science project “Flora das Áreas-Piloto da Rota Vicentina” on this platform. Anyone interested can contribute to this project and help us map the biodiversity of these priority areas for conservation! Anyone interested can contribute to this project and help us map the biodiversity of these priority areas for conservation! Among the various projects we can join in Portugal that leverage the benefits or are based on citizen science, we highlight the INVASORAS.PT project.

In the INVASORAS.PT project, which may not be new to those following us, besides participating in the events of the Week on Invasive Species, since 2019, we have recorded sightings of invasive plant species on the iNaturalist project of In this project, anyone identifying a potential invasive plant can compare it with provided photos and other descriptions to register correctly. After the data are submitted, they are confirmed by the experts on the INVASORAS.PT team to ensure the sightings are correct.

So far, we have recorded 168 species along the hiking trails of Rota Vicentina, but there are many more to discover!

This is another way we have found to contribute to data collection in the territory, helping to understand it in various ways!


Leonor Pires

Arquitecta Paisagista de formação, sempre esteve ligada à Natureza. Leonor adora plantas, música, artesanato, desenhar e caminhar ao ar livre. O Alentejo é a sua casa.

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