A Note on Geoprivacy

Wood Turtle

This time of year, Wood Turtles are slumbering through winter at the bottom of frigid streams and rivers throughout Vermont. This past spring and fall, however, the Vermont Atlas of Life received dozens of reports of Wood Turtles from across the state. Due to its designation as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need in Vermont, Wood Turtle observations submitted to the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist are automatically obscured to protect these turtles from being harassed or illegally collected by unscrupulous people. But sometimes conservationists like us can’t see the locations either.

For example, we share observations each year with the Vermont Reptile and Amphibian Atlas, which collects data needed to make informed recommendations regarding the state status, state rank, and conservation priorities of Vermont’s reptiles and amphibians. To do this, the atlas requires exact locations of observations. Unfortunately, if we don’t have access to the locations, they cannot be used for conservation.

iNaturalist also places geoprivacy in your hands. You can make make any of your observations obscured or even completely private, if you so choose. However, if you are uploading obscured or private observations, or are uploading observations of rare or threatened species that are automatically obscured, like the Wood Turtle example, it is likely that your observations are not fully contributing to research and conservation.

The default settings of an iNaturalist project like the Vermont Atlas of Life are such that the coordinates of any obscured or private observations actively shared with the project are visible to our team of biologists, but the coordinates of observations passively gathered by the project (any observations that are made within the state of Vermont but the observer is either not a member of the VAL project or didn’t purposely add the observation to the project) are not visible to VAL curators. This means that the coordinates of many important observations of rare and threatened species are hidden, and conservationists and researchers are unable to fully use them. There is a quick fix for this!

If you would like your obscured sightings of rare species or species of conservation concern to be accessible to professional conservationists, biologists, and researchers that work with VAL, go to our  short primer on iNaturalist geoprivacy and learn how you can best set your geoprivacy settings for the Vermont Atlas of Life.

Anotado por nsharp nsharp, 08 de noviembre de 2021 a las 08:07 PM

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