NaturaList, citizen science for wildlife observations databases
This app allows you to record quickly your observations of birds and other taxonomic groups: mammals, amphibians, reptiles, butterflies, dragonflies, etc. The system is able to synchronize the observations with local “ornitho” platforms. Thus, users only need one app regardless of where they are.
Source: Android description (translated) / Image: Pixabay
Download: Android 2.3 (5.27MB) / web (See the section on Description)
Language: German / English / Italian / Spanish / French / Polish / Catalan / Dutch / Basque
Runs offline: yes (connection required to dump the data to servers)
Last update: Android 16/01/2017 (v. 0.84)
Website of the developer: Biolovision Sàrl
Notes: article updated on 04/02/2017
Naturalist is an application used to record wildlife sightings that have the ability to synchronize with the databases of Ornitho citizen science platforms (France, Germany, Luxemburg, Andorra, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Poland, Catalonia and Basque Country). As the basque platform explains, these communities «are created and maintained by Biolovision (www.biolovision.net), with tax residence in Switzerland, but are managed by local entities in the territories where they are located. This system allows the platform to adapt to local needs of each territory». For example, in the case of this region, currently you can record observations of hymenoptera (asian hornet), bivalves (zebra mussel), dragonflies, butterflies, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals.
The application can also be used as a field notebook, without uploading the information to database, leaving the data stored on the device itself.
This application requires the opening a user account for its fully operational (the only option available without registration is to see the observations made in the vicinity of your location in the last 15 days). This requirement can be filled out from any of the territorial webs, from Biolovision or from the application itself. Once you receive the password (you can change it later from your user profile), you can register on the platform through the mobile application or web application, select the database in which you want to upload your sightings and set the app to your liking.
The options available in the mobile version and the web version are quite similar, so this analysis is going to focus on the application for Android devices.
- “The sightings”, with the possibility of choose between the observations stored on your device, those made by you, the sightings you have in verification process, those registered nearby of your location (both yours and other users) or the records considered as rare in a radius of 100 km.
- “Submit sightings”, section which presents different options such as “directly in the field”, “later”, “with list in the field” and “with list later”. The main difference between them is that you can enter your observations individually, specimen by specimen, or create a list of a zone (for example, a bioblitz). For each of the sightings, you can fill in different fields such as comments, information, atlas code (which was the behaviour of the animal), photography, etc., information that can be edited later. An interesting aspect of web version that it has not been located in the mobile application is the ability to point out that the sighting is a second hand observation, ie, sightings observed by others. You can also protect sensitive species observations, although the system is configured by default to not show them. It is also worth mentioning that the observations can be subject to verification, especially when it comes species rare or very rare.
- In “Tools”, the main option is “Preferences”. In this section you can configure the lists of species on which you are going to introduce sightings (it’s better download the information from the local websites of Ornitho, although you can also download a list of biogeographic regions), the language in which you want to see the lists, the possibility of download maps for offline viewing, GPS mode (continuous or on request), etc.
NaturaList – the ornitho app for Android devices
Images: Screenshots 27/09/2016. © Biolovision Sàrl
There are numerous the applications discussed on this website that rely on citizen science. In this case, the different Ornitho platforms and the application used to register the sightings, NaturaList, are invaluable sources of data that, in some cases, feed listings of biodiversity of European territories (this is the case of the Basque Country where ornitho.eus exceeded 10 000 observations in April 2016).
The application can be difficult to use if you do not have a minimum knowledge in the identification of species, although you can send a photo to the platform managers, who can help you with the identification (in the database is better to introduce species on which you are sure). The choice of the atlas code can also generate doubts, but it is an optional field, so in case of ignorance, you can skip it. The application is quite agile, but during tests some problems with synchronization of the listed species were detected.