Painted-cup paintbrush (Castilleja coccinea) at Penn-Sylvania Prairie. Photo: Bruce Schuette

iNaturalist Community Science Project

The Missouri Prairie Foundation (MPF) supports and carries out research on its prairies. As funds permit, MPF hires botanists to establish baseline data of each of its prairies, and these floristic assessments are linked to MPF prairie pages. These botanical surveys are repeated over time to ensure that MPF’s prairie management continues to sustain, or even enhance, native biodiversity. MPF also hires other scientists to establish baseline bird, mammal, herpetological, insect, and other surveys when funds permit. Learn more about MPF’s ongoing research here

MPF also welcomes community science efforts to document plant and animal life on its prairies, also. To this end, the Missouri Prairie Foundation Community Science Biodiversity Project is designed to document species diversity across our 23 prairies using iNaturalist’s community science approach. Prairie visitors are encouraged to use iNaturalist as a learning tool, and to submit their flora and fauna observations, which will help build our data used for science and management. Learn more about how to get started on iNaturalist here. All prairies owned and managed by the Missouri Prairie Foundation are open to the public. 

Each MPF prairie will soon have an iNaturalist project set up, and when observations are submitted at each site, they will automatically be included in that site’s project. Observations can easily be made in the field, or submitted later, either using a manually entered location or automatically using exif data from a photo. If a user doesn’t know the ID of a plant or animal, the app can give suggestions based on the photo. Once posted, fellow iNaturalist users can make ID suggestions. Including photos is best, but not always possible, users can submit observations with just an ID and a description if no photo is available (e.g., a bird that is heard, but not seen). Learn more about submitting observations here

When posting sensitive species or species of conservation concern, location information will be obscured publicly. 

Currently Snowball Hill Prairie, Golden Prairie, Friendly Prairie, La Petite Gemme Prairie, and Carver Prairie have live projects.