Biodiversity Information Science and Standards : Conference Abstract
Conference Abstract
Making Biodiversity Data Social, Shareable, and Scalable: Reflections on iNaturalist & citizen science
expand article info Carrie Seltzer
‡ California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco, United States of America
Open Access


Since 2008, iNaturalist has been crowdsourcing identifications for biodiversity observations collected by citizen scientists. Today iNaturalist has over 25 million records of wild biodiversity with photo or audio evidence, from every country, representing more than 230,000 species, collected by over 700,000 people, and with 90,000 people helping others with identifications. Hundreds of publications have used iNaturalist data to advance research, conservation, and policy. There are three key themes that iNaturalist has embraced: social interaction; shareability of data, tools, and code; and scalability of the platform and community. The keynote will share reflections on what has (and has not) worked for iNaturalist while drawing on other examples from biodiversity informatics and citizen science. Insights about user motivations, synergistic collaborations, and strategic decisions about scaling offer some transferable approaches to address the broadly applicable questions: Which species is represented? How do we make the best use of the available biodiversity information? And how do we build something viable and enduring in the process?


social networks, citizen science, occurrence records, crowdsourcing, scaling, data use, data quality

Presenting author

Carrie E. Seltzer, Ph.D.

Presented at

Biodiversity_Next 2019


iNaturalist is made possible by volunteer curators and moderators, enthusiastic champions, open source software contributors, generous donors, supporting organizations, dedicated staff, and thousands of everyday users. Thank you!

Hosting institution

California Academy of Sciences

National Geographic Society