Jakob Mueller

Joined: May 18, 2018 Last Active: Jun 15, 2024 iNaturalist

I am a naturalist and conservationist currently based in eastern Ontario, Canada. My main areas of focus are herpetology and botany, but I'm interested in everything. I find biogeography particularly fascinating, and find iNaturalist to be a valuable tool to improve our understanding of it.

I'm an active member of the Ottawa Field-Naturalists' Club (OFNC), which is Canada's oldest natural history organization. If you are in the Ottawa area, or to get access to the Canadian Field-Naturalist, a peer-reviewed journal, you should join:
https://ofnc.ca/membership-and-donations

Many of my special interests revolve around the current and historic distribution of species and ecosystems, and how these have changed as a result of modern anthropogenic factors, including:
-determining the true limits of reptile and amphibian distributions, especially where field data or search effort has been lacking;
-disjunct populations of anything;
-the historical extent and composition of open habitats of eastern North America: prairies, oak savannas, pine barrens, and related ecosystems;
-the historical extent and composition of the “Carolinian” flora (the Deciduous Forest Region) in southern Ontario, especially pockets of this in southeastern Ontario.

I have an iNat-related ask:

Please don't use range alone to make IDs. A known range is based on where a species has been found in the past; using range to make IDs is tautological. Range absolutely informs an ID, but please also look at the animal/plant. (It's possible that you are now thinking of some taxonomies that basically require the use of a map, but you thought of those so fast because they are highly problematic and often controversial.)
Saying something is "outside the known range" is often a useless statement, based in a misunderstanding of what the term "known range" really means.

The known range of a species is only as good as our previous documentation of that species, which is often lacking. Species can move and can be moved, some ranges are naturally dynamic over time, and there are plenty of things we simply didn't know before. In much of North America, the wholesale destruction of natural habitats dates to c. 1800, and most attempts to thoroughly or properly catalogue biodiversity only started in c. 1950. We will never fully know everything we lost, so we need to leave room for what we don't know, and the possibility that some new "discoveries" aren't truly new occurrences.

Observations on iNaturalist have, and continue to reveal, both range extensions of species, and populations of rare or at-risk species that were not previously known. To me, these are very exciting, and among the most valuable contributions of this platform. We can't properly conserve something if we don't fully understand it, or don't even know it's there.

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