Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Real ID

Have you ever found a weird plant or animal in Hawaii and desperately wanted to know what it was? The Bishop Museum may be able to quench your thirst for knowledge with "Ask a Bishop Museum Scientist," a forum on the photo-sharing website Flickr. You can post photos or descriptions of insect pests or plants or animals that seem not to belong on the Hawaiian islands, and a real biologist will weigh in on the identification, along with information about whether the organisms are native or introduced and their history on the islands. While what gets posted seems to be a mix of native and non-native species, this is likely to be a valuable "Citizen Scientist" tool for spotting new potential invaders and tracking recent introductions. If you are not familiar with Flickr, a Yahoo! site that is free to join, the Bishop Museum provides instructions on how to participate here. And of course, this post would be remiss without mentioning some of the other great Flickr identification forums, all stocked with knowledgable folks: ID Please, What plant is that? and Bird Identification Help Group.

Tip of the virtual hat to KHNL8 TV for posting about this great resource.

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