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iNaturalist collection projects

You have countless photos of the natural world in your media library. These images—even the imperfect ones—have real and significant value to scientists that monitor biodiversity.
Your field observations can support new understanding and discoveries. Here’s how to connect with the scientific community.
Read more in this article

Using your photos for science

Watch this “Teach Me in 10” tutorial by NANPA member Dani Davis to learn how—and why—to use your images to support scientific research in iNaturalist.

How to record observations in iNaturalist

Two ways you can record observations with iNaturalist

Upload a photo to the iNaturalist website

If, like many NANPA photographers, your great photo of a whooping crane is in your DSLR or on your computer, you can upload the photo to the iNaturalist website directly.

Use the iNaturalist app on your smart phone

While you’re out and about, just take a picture of what you observe with your smart phone and use the app to record the observation.

Join NANPA iNaturalist projects

To help you connect with other NANPA members inside the iNaturalist community, the NANPA Conservation Committee has created special collection projects in iNaturalist. The projects are grouped by geographic regions—which can also help you identify and plan for photo trips that interest you. We invite all NANPA members to join these projects to see the observations in a particular location made by other NANPA members.

Our collection projects


Join a project

Getting started instructions

  1. Spend some time browsing the iNaturalist website to familiarize yourself with the type of observations and activities that occur. Search for particular species in your area to see where other people observed them.
  2. Establish an iNaturalist account of your own.
  3. Download and install the free iNaturalist app on your smart phone.
  4. Take a walk in your neighborhood and try making some observations.
  5. Most importantly, submit some of the recent fantastic photos from your catalog to iNaturalist to share your talents and love of the natural world with the iNaturalist community around the globe.
  6. Finally, join one or all of the NANPA-Regional projects listed above so your observations will be grouped with those of other NANPA members.

When you visit the NANPA Umbrella collection project, you’ll see observations from all of the regional collection projects.

Each project contains observations from NANPA members that have joined the project and have submitted observations in that region. For example, I live in Texas but have some nice shots of sandhill cranes taken in Colorado. If I join the NANPA-Regional-Mountain-West project in iNaturalist, observations that I made in Colorado would automatically be included in that project. So we encourage you to join every regional project where you have taken—or will take—photographs.

“Joining” may sound onerous, but it’s easy.

  1. From your iNaturalist dashboard (once you are logged in), click on Projects.
  2. Search for “NANPA.”
  3. Click on a project name to open it, then click the “Join” link in the upper right corner.
  4. Repeat step 3 for each NANPA region where you take photos.

You will become a member of each project that you request to join, and all of your iNaturalist observations from that region will be automatically added to the project. There’s nothing else you need to do.

Learn more about citizen science and conservation on The Nature Photographer podcast episode “Conservation Begins in Your Backyard” featuring Andrew Snyder.