Track Alpine Plants Across the Northeast with iNaturalist
The Northeast Alpine Flower Watch tracks the effects of climate change by gathering flowering time data, using the iNaturalist app and platform, with the help of hikers in alpine areas. AMC has partnered with the Adirondack Mountain Club, Green Mountain Club, and Baxter State Park to achieve this goal in New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.
This study is an extension of AMC’s long running Mountain Watch program that has tracked how plants are responding to climate change in the mountains since 2004. From day one of this project, AMC relied on the help of hikers to track what they’ve seen along the trails. By taking photos of flowers on your hike every spring and summer, you can help too!
iNaturalist is a tool that crowdsources plant and animal observations through a free app on your phone or tablet. Our project uses it to focus on the flowering season of alpine plants in the Northeast.
To get started:
(1) Download the iNaturalist app and register. If you don’t have a chance to do this before you hit the trail, you can download the app later and upload photos already taken to iNaturalist so you will be ready to use the app next time you hike!
(2) Turn on location in your mobile device if you have turned it off previously. This ensures that your photos are dated and geo-tagged so that when you use the iNaturalist app the photo brings that data along.
(3) Take photos of flowers, especially our target species. Take a photo of the whole plant if possible and a close-up of flowers or fruit. It is best to take photos while in the iNaturalist app because using the app will ensure that more accurate location data is logged.
(4) Join AMC’s iNaturalist projects. By joining the “Northeast Alpine Flower Watch” team you can streamline your contribution to AMC’s research and get updates on the project through iNautralist journal posts. Be sure to select ‘allow researchers to see coordinates’ when you join so that we can use the data you’ve collected. Observations not posted to our project are still accessible for research, so snap away!
Don’t forget to check back in on your iNaturalist submissions so you can learn more as you go. iNaturalist has built-in identification technology and plenty of fellow naturalists who can help confirm a species and move your observation to “Research Grade.” This allows AMC’s scientists and other researchers to use it in our work.
The more photos we take, year after year, the more we can learn about flowering and fruiting times and the impact of climate change.