Citizen Science with RMBL

Have you ever been hiking, biking, skiing, etc. and run into a plant, animal, insect, or flower that you couldn’t identify? Ever wished that you had a biologist along with you to answer your questions?

iNaturalist logoWell folks, there’s an app for that! You bring your smart phone along on your adventures anyway, right? Just download the free iNaturalist app (for iPhone and Android). It’s like having a naturalist in your pocket. You simply upload a picture of the species you’re curious about and an expert will identify it for you. The app can be used anywhere on the planet and it even works when you have no cell signal.

Not only does this app help amateur naturalists, it also is exceptionally helpful to scientists around the world. That brings us to why this blog post found its way onto the visitor information site for Gunnison and Crested Butte.

Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory

North of Crested Butte, Gothic, Colorado started out as a silver mining town. However, it has been home to the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory (RMBL) since 1928. Every summer, the world’s largest migration of field biologists brings researchers and students from around the world to Gothic to research the ecosystem. In fact, some of the country’s longest-running ecology studies are based right here.

In addition to conducting scientific research in and around Gothic, the scientists and staff at RMBL put on a bunch of great events and tours throughout the summer to share their science with visitors. Check our event calendar for some of the highlights.

RMBL and iNaturalist

The Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory (RMBL) has created a project on iNaturalist entitled The Rocky Mountain Biological Lab Biota. When you upload your photos to this project, your geolocated photos (tagged with latitudes and longitudes) will be displayed on a map. These observations help scientists understand the distribution of species and the degree of biodiversity along with how each may change through time. It can also be used to find out which plants are blooming and where to find them.

Here’s how to Participate:

Sign up, learn, and contribute! Just follow the steps below:

  1. Download the iNaturalist app
  2. Create a login and password
  3. Click on “More…” at the bottom of the screen
  4. Click “Projects” and in the “Nearby” search (when you’re here in the Gunnison Valley) look for Rocky Mountain Biological Lab Biota
  5. Join the project
  6. Upload your photos of plants and animals, identify them if you know what they are, or wait for experts to identify them for you!
RMBL inaturalist map image
RMBL inaturalist observations
Author: Amy Ellwein
Amy Ellwein, Ph.D. is the Director of Science Communications & Engagement at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory. In the summer, you might find her roaming the mountains looking at rocks and dirt (plants too!) with her big furry dogs, Olli and Bella.

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