Maine master naturalist Roger Rittmaster taking a picture. Rittmaster will offer an informative look at one of the world’s most popular and exciting nature apps, iNaturalist, at 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 4, through the Camden Public Library, in partnership with Coastal Mountains Land Trust. Submitted photo by Jeannie Hutchins

Maine master naturalist Roger Rittmaster will offer an informative look at one of the world’s most popular and exciting nature apps, iNaturalist, at 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 4, through the Camden Public Library, in partnership with Coastal Mountains Land Trust. This online presentation will be conducted via the Zoom meeting platform. Email [email protected] to request a link to participate.

iNaturalist, a joint initiative by the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society, is a program that uses artificial intelligence to identify a plant or animal in a photograph. Besides providing users with a wealth of information about a species, the program allows amateur naturalists to contribute to biodiversity science. At its core, iNaturalist is an online social network of people sharing biodiversity information to help each other learn about nature. “When I checked today,” notes Rittmaster, “over 37 million photographs from around the world had been submitted by over 127,000 individuals.”

Godyris Duillia photographed by Maine master naturalist Roger Rittmaster. Submitted photo by Jeannie Hutchins

“Once a photograph is submitted, other people, including experts, will often confirm the identification, which then becomes research grade,” explains Rittmaster. iNaturalist also shares user findings with scientific data repositories like the Global Biodiversity Information Facility to help scientists find and use the data. Rittmaster continues, “There is also an ‘Explore’ function, which allows the user to create a search of photographs based on species, location, photographer, and a number of other criteria.”

Maine master naturalist Roger Rittmaster will offer an informative look at one of the world’s most popular and exciting nature apps, iNaturalist, at 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 4, through the Camden Public Library, in partnership with Coastal Mountains Land Trust. Submitted photo by Jeannie Hutchins

Rittmaster encourages people who plan to participate in the June 4 program to download the iNaturalist app onto their computer, tablet, or smartphone and set up a free account ahead of his presentation. He also suggests having a specimen (like a leaf or flower) on hand to photograph. This will allow participants to watch Rittmaster’s presentation (on a separate device) and follow along in real time on their own iNaturalist account as he dives into some of the application’s impressive features.

Rittmaster is a retired endocrinologist, who has a lifelong interest in natural history and nature photography. Over the past 15 years he has focused on photographing insects. Rittmaster is the author of Butterflies Up Close: A Guide to Butterfly Photography. He currently serves on the Board of Coastal Mountains Land Trust and is past Chair of the Camden Conservation Commission.

For more information on this online program and others offered by the Camden Public Library, visit librarycamden.org.


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