American Toad | EwA iNat Research Grade Sighting

Summary ꙳ Objectives

▹ Biodiversity refers to the variety of life on Earth at all its levels, from genes to species, and ecosystems. It encompasses the evolutionary, ecological, and cultural processes that sustain life - It is the fabric of Life on Earth. It is everywhere starting right where we live: in our house, on our city streets, in our city parks, we just have to learn to look for it.    

Here is a circle that invites us to get out to discover and document the species who live among us, right here around our houses, our trees, parks, woods.

Get a Naturalist mindset. Explore Citizen Science and how to contribute to helping scientists all over the world with the recording of our observations. Learn what kind of information to record, and how to submit it using the iNaturalist app & platform. Enjoy! ツ

ⓘ Intro to EwA Nature Circles

Type » Lesson

Level » Explorer + Naturalist

When? » Anytime

Where? » Outdoors

Time » 2 hr+ & record anytime you're out there. 

Themes & Skills

Biodiversity ⋆ Species ⋆ Ecosystems ⋆ Focus ⋆ Observing ⋆ Recording ⋆ Scientific Methods ⋆ Systems Thinking ⋆ Natural Processes/Cycles ⋆ Citizen Science



  • Internet access for watching biodiversity videos and research the topic
  • Hand lens to check critters  + your field journal
  • Nature guides about the local fauna and flora
  • iNaturalist App on your phone or tablet to record sightings but also to help identify species

Activity Set

"Biodiversity is essential to our well-being on planet Earth, providing core ecosystem services such as pollination, pest control, and buffering of extreme events. With many continuing pressures on land, biodiversity is constantly threatened so there is a need to better monitor this valuable resource globally. But there are many big data gaps in biodiversity, often in those places where the need is greatest. Citizen scientists can help to fill some of these gaps, both geographically and taxonomically" —Mark Chandler (Earthwatch Institute)

Citizen Science is also an incredible way to discover Biodiversity at an intimate level and therefore to connect deeply with Nature. Let's get out together and do some Science then!

Discuss » What is Biodiversity & Why Should We Care?

"We should preserve every scrap of biodiversity as priceless while we learn to use it and come to understand what it means to humanity." — E. O. Wilson

Biodiversity is simply the variability among all living organisms from all sources, including terrestrial, marine, and other aquatic ecosystems, as well as the ecological complexes of which they are part of; this includes diversity within species (genetic), between species, and of ecosystems.


See the full TED lesson (with quiz and discussion)

Yes, biodiversity is under many threats, but the good news is that these threats are 'identifiable' and that we can educate ourselves, collaborate, correct harmful ways and learn how to do better. Protecting biodiversity in all its richness, for what it is and for ourselves, is key for the health of the planet and humanity. Doing better is not conceptually hard, it is about how to control ourselves as a whole that is the problem. But once again: Together we can, and here is where citizen science helps...


iNaturalism –The Magic of Biodiversity (EwA Nature Activity)

Discover » The Need for Citizen Scientists & How To Be One

Citizen science is good self-care. It makes you part of the community. It gives you a purpose. It connects you with the planet and it helps science.

Citizen science (CS) is scientific research conducted, in whole or in part by non-professional scientists. Citizen science may be performed by individuals, teams, or networks of volunteers. Citizen scientists often partner with professional scientists to achieve common goals. Large volunteer networks often allow scientists to accomplish tasks that would be too expensive or time-consuming to accomplish through other means.

Why join a citizen science project? Because it's fun, it fuels curiosity and outdoors experiences, it's community-driven, it helps the scientific community so that in return we can do better at preserving the fabric of Life that Biodiversity is.


Explore & Document » Documenting Species in a Nutshell

"Curiosity is one of the permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous intellect."— Samuel Johnson

Taking part in documenting species is easy!

There is a good social tool for documenting species, that provides key elements to communicate about biodiversity and build communities of nature enthusiasts: iNaturalist.

iNaturalist is primarily an online social network of people sharing biodiversity information to help each other learn about nature. Their objective is multiple: getting people (and youth outside), raise awareness about biodiversity and citizen science. This being said iNaturalist is not A science project, and it's important to clarify this. But what they do is to facilitate the use of the data for science and conservation. Explicitly, this means that iNaturalist shares our findings with scientific data repositories like the Global Biodiversity Information Facility to help scientists find and use our data. All we have to do is observe, record and share.

To participate in the effort to document species where ever we live or visit:

1) Download the iNaturalist app from the AppStore or Google Play (or use iNat online) & join our EwA iNat Biodiversity Projects.

2) Get familiar with the app. Check the iNat short Getting Started guide and video tutorialsIt's very well done, and it sets you quickly on your discovery path!

3) Get outside & find wildlife: It can be any plant, animal, fungi, slime mold, or any other evidence of life (scat, fur, tracks, shells, carcasses!)

4) Take a picture or a series of them from various angles when possible (to document the details of your sighting), and make sure to note the location of the critter you are documenting.

5) Then share your observation through iNaturalist or a citizen science platform of your choice. Make sure to follow good observation and recording guidelines.

6) Get feedback from actual scientists, experts, and other naturalists: the community will then kick in and help you refine your identification.

It is that engaging and it is that easy!

Become an EwA iNaturalist and start adding your own observations, join our EwA Biodiversity Projects on iNat 

And if you're local to where we run our live citizen science circles, come & join us! We call those circles 'Biobliss events' and they gather a vibrant group including scientists and nature enthusiasts. Together, we explore the diverse habitats that make our ecological region. At the minimum, we run regular 'bioblisses' in nearby parks and reservations, and list them a couple of weeks in advance in our Events calendar . We also organize spontaneous surveys in the areas that we visit.

Smooth Sumac Rhus glabra | EwA iNat Research Grade Sighting

What you’ll learn with us by joining our live Biobliss events

Besides having fun, you’ll also learn about:

꙳ Biodiversity
History; Biodiversity status & threats; Why it is important to protect it

꙳ The importance of everyone's participation through Citizen Science
What it is and its impact; Origins of biodiversity challenges; How you can join the effort and make your records by following good scientific protocols

꙳ How to ethically observe and record nature & wildlife sightings
Safety and ethical practices; Major species families; Captive (or cultivated) vs. wild observations; How to take pictures and of what; What information to record along with a sighting

꙳ How to use recording apps such as iNaturalist like pros

And so much more!

Naturalist Notes
We never miss an opportunity to get outside as often as we can throughout the seasons. Life is busy for all, but we make sure we set an hour aside every week to explore our local biodiversity with our Nature journal and with the iNat Project App.

Every time we go out doing chores and such, we check for movements of birds and mammals, record trees and bugs, pop out our journal for a quick sketch. Once home, we check our identifications looking through our guides and browsing websites that list local species. Doing so we solidify our learning and knowledge, we get more familiar with our surroundings each time, and we grow our appreciation of what we have right here at home.

» EwA Circle Members Tips & Tools


» Biodiversity & Citizen Science

iNaturalism » The Magic of Biodiversity (EwA Nature Circle Lesson) —A set of activities to remind us of Biodiversity's wonders and how important it is to protect it.

Biodiversity World Conservation Status —IUCN RedList 2010 News article about the Biodiversity Crisis.

Involving Citizen Scientists in Biodiversity Observation by Mark Chandler, & al. (2016) in The GEO Handbook on Biodiversity Observation Networks pp 211-237. 

Contribution of citizen science towards international biodiversity monitoring by Mark Chandler, & al. (2016) DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2016.09.004

CitizenScience.Org —The Citizen Science Association unites expertise from educators, scientists, data managers, and others to power citizen science.

» iNaturalist

Become an EwA iNaturalist

iNaturalist: What is it?

iNaturalist > Getting started

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