Te Chang

Joined: Apr 9, 2019 Last Active: Sep 24, 2023 iNaturalist

After a fulfilling career in the chemical industry (https://www.linkedin.com/in/te-chang-31485a63), I am now spending part of my retirement time studying and documenting trees and wild flowers. I am mostly interested in knowing the species and their distributions. Previously, I had degrees in Forestry (more of wood utilization) in 70’s from National Taiwan University before converted to chemical engineer. I enjoyed summer practices at the NTU’s experimental forests. Although I never earned one-day of living practicing forestry, it is about time to have fun again at my leisure to go back to my root.

From a “City Nature Challenge 2019” activity flyer found at Deussen Park senior center, I learned of using “inaturalist” App and website. “inaturalist” is on a steady platform; it is robust and fast with little issues uploading hundreds of pictures simultaneously. Its built-in AI has better image recognition capabilities than other commercial Apps although “PlantSnap” may be good at cultivated plants (not much use to me). After hundreds of observations and identifications, I found that “inaturalist” can provide improved ID suggestions by taking multiple photos at different angles. The key is to have good flower and leaf images. For trees and shrubs, it is better to include photos of leaves, flowers, fruits, trunks and tree shapes. For wild flowers, I like to get photos of leaves, stems and patches as well. “inaturalist” is not without its downside. It can have many “need ID” and misidentified “Research Grade” (the rule is too relax – all it takes are “two agrees”) photos in the stock files to mislead others for further misidentifying of new observations. Therefore, “inaturalist” stock photos cannot be used as a sole source reference for identifications, particularly, for those highly similar looking species.

With inaturalist’s assistant, I am now branching out to observations of anything live and wild. I can also expand my goals to include areas not only Houston and Texas but also the America, the world and beyond. The only limitations would be how far and how often the outings can be. Certainly, the communications on-site with follow naturalists are big factors in positively identifying all observations.

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