Animal & Flower Tracking
While visiting parks, we register every identified species, animals and flowers, in a log. We don’t record precise geo-location but associate an identification with the park where it occurred. The data is used to gather information about where and when you may be able to spot which species.
Purpose of Tracking
Muuuh's main purpose of tracking is to obtain knowledge about distribution of common species in the Montreal area during the different seasons of a year. The data may serve as indicator about seasonal whereabouts of some species and allow us better preparation for recording videos of animal behavior.
The data isn't useful though for acquiring knowledge of species diversity or density in parks or getting insight in species diversity and density changes due to effects of global warming, urbanization or nature protection efforts.
The data's use is limited because of the challenging task to spot and identify certain species, the complexity of quantitative data collection of different species, the irregularity of the park visit schedule, limited to weekend days with pleasant weather conditions, and the difficulty making sure not to count the same individual multiple times when recording observations of the same species several times during a park visit.
For identification of a species we rely on our experience and apps like Merlin ID or PlantNet. If we not able to identify a species with high certainty, we try to take a photo which then will be used back at the office to identify the species with the help of the community on sites like iNaturalist or BugGuide.
We tested the use of binoculars in the field to get a better view of the species for identification. It turned out to be redundant as we usually carry a 400mm lens mounted and easily can take a photo.
We log the ID of a species in an Apple's Notes.app document. Back in office the observations and notes are saved in the database.
We tested different online tools which allow saving a species location directly in the database but learned that notes in a document still are necessary. Thus we ended up writing down all observations and notes in Apple's Notes.app document in the field. We also tested the pencil and paper approach but dropped it because some sheets of park visit logs have been lost.
Logged Data Points
Mainly, we record date, location (which park) and species. We only record a species once during a visit. Optionally, we keep notes about special behavior observed or other information we consider noteworthy about a species. In 2022, we started to keep records of weather conditions in the park and start and end of the park visit.
Additionally to the record in logs, we complete data sets with exif data from published photos of identified species.
We don't publish all data. Duplicated records of a species during a visit in a park during the same visit are removed. We include only records from parks which we visit regularly (at least once / season) and only of species we have spotted and logged at least 5 times in the past.