Land managers and conservation enthusiasts alike intuitively understand that knowledge of the flora and fauna at a property is vital to conserving biodiversity. However, most organizations don't have the necessary expertise or time to gather this critical data. It is also difficult to figure out how to make use of plant and animal observations once you have them or to justify why it is important to collect this data; it makes sense why most of our natural areas are vastly under-surveyed. A biodiversity catalogue tool, iNaturalist.org, opens the door to new possibilities for narrowing the gaps in our understanding of biodiversity distributions. Join Derek and Liana as they introduce and explain iNaturalist, explore its application as a tool to engage volunteers, and demonstrate its value in not only increasing our understanding of biodiversity but in translating that knowledge into useful information that directs and informs resource management.
Little Traverse Conservancy
Derek Shiels is a Conservation Easement and Preserve Steward at Little Traverse Conservancy. He is responsible for making sure all conservation easements are monitored annually, leading invasive species and flora inventories, and helping spearhead the citizen science program for the Conservancy. Derek is also pioneering Rate My Land, a social media venture to engage private landowners in conservation. Derek holds Masters of Science degrees in Environmental Science and Biology. Recent research includes an examination of the systematics of the sedge genus, Schoenoplectus (bulrushes), in the Monfils lab at Central Michigan University, but his passion for the natural world is not restricted to plants and he seeks to discover and document creatures of all kinds with iNaturalist.
Liana is the owner and operator of Borealis Consulting. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science from the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment, and continued with her graduate degree there, joining the Global Change Ecology Lab. She holds a Master of Science with a specializations in ecology, informatics, and geospatial analysis. Research includes sustainable forest management is Madagascar and Tanzania, forest dynamic modeling, remote sensing methods in forest mensuration, and global biodiversity conservation. Liana has been working in the botanical and ecological consulting fields in Michigan for ten years, and teaches several classes and workshops on botany, environmental science, and ecology. She also enjoys designing and installing restorative landscapes, plant breeding and genetics, and mapping plant distributions. Liana now lives and works in Leelanau County.