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iNaturalist at the Humber Arboretum

iNaturalist is an online social network and citizen science project that allows people anywhere in the world to upload observations of wild organisms and then work together to identify those organisms. Using iNaturalist when you visit the Humber Arboretum is an excellent way to connect with nature, learn about the world around you, and contribute to our knowledge of biodiversity at the Humber Arboretum.

What is iNaturalist?

iNaturalist is a place to record observations of any individual living thing encountered in the wild - plant, animal, or even fungus. You can create an account on the website or through the free app. You can upload photos taken with any camera through the website, or use the app to directly upload photos taken with your phone.

Place your observations on a map and use guidance from iNaturalist's photo recognition capabilities to help identify what you've seen. Members of the iNaturalist community will be able to see your observation and can help correct or refine your identification.



We encourage the use of iNaturalist because it:

  • is suitable for all skill levels
  • encourages you to slow down and look closely, building a connection with nature
  • is a great learning tool as it helps you identify what you've seen
  • provides a growing database of information on the location of species
  • has opportunities for those who are already knowledgeable about living organisms to have a real impact by helping others learn and improving the quality of the database
  • it's fun!

iNaturalist is just one of the citizen science projects we like to share with our community. Visit our Citizen Science at the Humber Arboretum page to learn more.

iNaturalist at the Arboretum

What kinds of spiders live at the Arboretum? How common are opossum sightings? When do the migratory birds arrive? Which mushrooms flourish in the woodlands? You might think we would already have that information, but with nearly 250 acres of urban greenspace and limited hours in the day, there's actually a lot we don't know.

We encourage visitors to upload their sightings from the Arboretum to help us learn more about the diversity of life found here.

Here are a few tips:

  • iNaturalist is intended for recording life encountered in the wild rather than domestic/captive animals or plants that have been deliberately grown in a garden. So that means Cleo, our resident turtle in the Centre for Urban Ecology, or the flowers and trees we've planted around the garden areas really aren't the kinds of observations that the database is looking for (but any insects you see on the flowers or any fungi growing on the trees is great!). If you do choose to upload the garden plants, you'll see there's a field marked "Captive or Cultivated" - please check this to box to indicate that your observation isn't of a wild organism.
  • For parents concerned about privacy, iNaturalist also offers a family-friendly app that helps you identify sightings without uploading them to a database. So technically it does not contribute to citizen science, but it does encourage curiosity and build observation and identification skills. Learn more about Seek


Head to (or if you're outside Canada) to learn more and get started!


Contribute to the iNaturalist Project: Humber Arboretum Atlas


Screencapture of an iNaturalist project banner

iNaturalist Projects allow users to collect observations together based on a number of different criteria. The Humber Arboretum Atlas was created by our staff so we can easily explore all of the observations uploaded from anyone visiting the Arboretum grounds. It's also an easy way to quickly see which observations from the Arboretum still need to be identified.

(Plus it has a fun leaderboard, so we can see who has uploaded the most observations and the most individual species!)

You don't need to join the project to have your observations appear there, but by joining you can learn about the observations of others, help with (or learn from) the identification process, and read along with our project journal.


Three Ways to Contribute:

1. Create New Observations When You Visit

Use iNaturalist when you visit the Arboretum. Any observations added within the boundaries of the Arboretum will automatically appear in the project. Remember it's more valuable to focus on wild organisms, rather than the cultivated trees and flowers in our gardens.

You can simply choose to observe whatever catches your eye, or you might decide to go on a targeted mission. For example:

  • take a walk to look for mushrooms
  • bring your telephoto lens during bird migrations
  • challenge yourself to get some great dragonfly photos
  • look down to upload beetles and ants

2. Upload Your Older Arboretum Photos

Have you been visiting the Arboretum for years? Do you have folders full of your photos of plants or wildlife? Do you know when and approximately where those photos were taken?

It's easy to upload older photos from your computer using the iNaturalist website, or even to the app from your phone's photo library. As long as the photos have a date (which is automatically saved to most digital photos) and you know roughly where in the Arboretum the photo was taken, you can upload and map them.

Increasing the date range of Arboretum observations on iNaturalist is the kind of information that can help us notice changes over time.

3. Engage and Identify

If you click "Join" on the project page, you can choose to receive updates from the project by email or see them in your iNaturalist news feed. See what everyone else is sharing from the Arboretum and be alerted when we post journal entries. 

You can engage with others by:

  • liking and commenting on other observations
  • helping to identify species you are familiar with
  • following along with the identification process to help you learn

Using iNaturalist - Tips and Resources

Getting Started with iNaturalist

Watch the one-hour workshop presented by Humber Arboretum staff as part of Citizen Science Week 2021.

Taking Good ID Photos

Taking nice-looking photos and taking photos that are helpful for identifying an organism are often two different things. iNaturalist allows you to upload more than one photo for an observation, so you have the chance to show several features.

Here are a few tips for what photos you should try to get for each organism:

Plants - General

  • whole plant
  • leaf shape
  • any flowers, berries, or seed pods
  • photo showing how the leaves / branches attach to the stem
  • bark texture for trees


  • whole mushroom
  • gills - the underside (if it's possible to photograph without touching the mushroom)
  • what it's growing on