Within the last few decades, the emphasis on natural history has diminished in the Biological Science curriculum. Students enrolled in college are no longer required to take natural history courses in order to receive their degree and are often lacking in important taxonomic skills that are essential in botanical and wildlife ecology careers. Natural history helps us better understand the distribution and abundance of organisms as they relate to their biogeography, life history characteristics, and response to their surroundings. During the months of July-August 2015, I embarked on a cross country road trip of the United States, as part of a rock band tour. Along the way, I curated primarily plant specimens for SUNY Plattsburgh using plant pressing and smartphone technology (iNaturalist app) techniques. Out of a total 184 observations, the majority of observations were of <em>Plantae</em> (78%), followed by Insecta (8%), Reptilia (5%), Mammalia (3%), Fungi (3%), Amphibia (1%), Arachnida (1%), Aves (1%), and Mollusca (1%). Among plant families in which observations occurred >2 times, the most common were Cactaceae (22%), Asteraceae (12%), Pinaceae (12%), Asparagaceae (10%), Brassicaceae (8%), Cupressaceae (6%), Fabaceae (6%), Fagaceae (6%), Oleaceae (6%), Onagraceae (6%), and Sapindaceae (6%). Geospatial data were imported into ArcMap and deeper investigation across ecotypes were made. Overall, this cross country natural history immersion experience grew my appreciation for curation and technology. I gained valuable experience in plant and invertebrate identification, with the help of field guides, participating iNaturalist curators, and scientific professionals. My confidence in using technology as a tool to curate and share observations through a citizen science network, as well as further grow skills in GIS were achieved. There are many opportunities for students and interested stakeholders to become citizen sensors while pursuing adventures in their daily lives.
Student poster, Center for Earth and Environmental Science, SUNY Plattsburgh