Nature Spotter App Allows Users to Send Photos to Naturalists

Ever seen a cool-looking bug and want to know more about it?

Need help identifying a plant you’ve seen at the park? Or, just want to share a photo with other nature spotters?

Well, a smartphone app called Nature Spotter is making that easy. Those who use iPhones can now download the free “Riverside Nature Spotter” App that makes identifying living things fun and easy from the the online Apple App store.

nature spotter
A volunteer at the Riverside Metropolitan Museum demonstrates how to use the new Nature Spotter app in the museum’s garden.

The Riverside Nature Spotter app is a handy tool that helps nature lovers share their observation of insects, plants, animals, and other living things.

Spotters can send a photo with questions about what they’ve seen and a naturalist will reply with feedback and identify the species. The photos and observations are collected by the Riverside Metropolitan Museum (RMM) and added to the Riverside Citizen Science online database at iNaturalist.org to share with fellow Nature Spotters. Once on the site, other naturalists and nature lovers can share their input and use the database as a resource for other science projects.

Even if you don’t have the Apple app, you can still participate: Just email photos to naturespotter@riversideca.gov and a naturalist will respond. You can also check out what other Nature Spotters have already spotted by going to the site at www.inaturalist.org/projects/riverside-citizen-science.

“The app is creating a fun and easy way for Riverside residents to get involved with ‘citizen science,’ ” said James Bryant, curator of Natural History at the Riverside Metropolitan Museum. “Our goal is to engage the community in observing and documenting Riverside’s natural environment through nature-centered activities like the Nature Spotter app.”

The application is a project of the Riverside Citizen Science Partnership and was developed by the City of Riverside, CA Information Technology department working with Riverside Metropolitan Museum, the Parks, Recreation, and Community Services Department, and partners: UC Riverside , Riverside-Corona Resource Conservation District, National Park Service: Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance, and The U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Research Station, Riverside.

The Nature Spotter App aims to connect a community of nature lovers who can share their experiences with each other and continue to explore and enjoy the unmatched landscape and year-round outdoor activities that make Riverside a Location of Choice.

To learn more about Citizen Science and the Nature Spotter app, click here.