Help

Howdy. If you're just getting started with iNat, check out the Getting Started guide to tour some of the site's features. If you have a question about the site, please peruse the FAQ below. If you're still looking for answers, please email Support at help@inaturalist.org or post your question to our Community Forum.

Frequently Asked Questions

General

  1. What is iNaturalist?
  2. Who is behind iNaturalist?
  3. What technologies and data sources does the project use?
  4. What can I do to help iNaturalist?
  5. How do I contact iNaturalist?
  6. What are staff, curators, and site admins?
  7. What is considered inappropriate content?
  8. Spam! What do I do about it?
  9. Can I use the photos that are posted on iNaturalist?
  10. Do you have any brochures I can print out?

Observations

  1. What is an observation?
  2. What kind of photos should I attach to observations?
  3. Can I add multiple taxa per observation? What if my photo has a flower AND a cool bug?
  4. What does captive / cultivated mean?
  5. How can I get help identifying what I saw?
  6. Why doesn't iNaturalist recognize the name I've entered?
  7. What is the data quality assessment and how do observations qualify to become "research" grade?
  8. What is geoprivacy? What does it mean for an observation to be obscured?
  9. How do I add sounds?
  10. Can I upload videos to iNaturalist?
  11. What are tags, observation fields, and annotations?
  12. What does it mean to link iNaturalist to my Flickr account?
  13. Why is my observation not showing up in a Place or Collection project? I know I observed it there.
  14. Can I upload my old photos as observations?
  15. What do the map symbols mean?

Identifications

  1. What is an identification?
  2. I identified my observation after someone else added a higher-level ID, so why is the observation stuck with the higher level ID?
  3. Why do people keep adding "obvious" IDs like "Plants" or "Fungi"?
  4. I don’t agree with iNaturalist’s taxonomy. Do I have to follow it when I add an ID?
  5. I posted an observation a few days ago but no one has Identified it yet. Am I doing something wrong?

Computer Vision

  1. What is computer vision?
  2. Which taxa are included in the computer vision suggestions?
  3. Why can't computer vision identify my photo correctly?
  4. How can I tell if someone selected a computer vision suggestion?
  5. What does "Seen Nearby" mean?

Science and Research

  1. How is iNaturalist data used for research?
  2. How can I download data from iNaturalist?
  3. I am a researcher working for a governmental agency. How can I access the true coordinates of sensitive species?
  4. How should I cite iNaturalist?
  5. Which iNaturalist observations are exported for GBIF, and how often does this export happen?
  6. If an observation’s ID or data quality grade changes, will that change be updated on GBIF?
  7. What other entities use iNat data exports?

Lists

  1. What are lists?
  2. I observed a species, so why isn't it showing up in my life list?

Projects

  1. What are projects?
  2. How do I restrict project contributions to a geographic area?
  3. How do I restrict project contributions to a geographic area that isn't already in the database?
  4. Why can't I add my observation to this project?
  5. Why won't some observations appear in my place-based collection project? I know I observed them there.
  6. Can I get around the 50 verifiable observations limit for creating a place or a traditional project?

Taxa

  1. How do I add a missing species to the iNaturalist database?
  2. Can I add common names?

Guides

  1. What are Guides?

General

  1. What is iNaturalist?

    iNaturalist provides a place to record and organize nature findings, meet other nature enthusiasts, and learn about the natural world. It encourages the participation of a wide variety of nature enthusiasts, including, but not exclusive to, hikers, hunters, birders, beach combers, mushroom foragers, park rangers, ecologists, and fishermen. Through connecting these different perceptions and expertise of the natural world, iNaturalist hopes to create extensive community awareness of local biodiversity and promote further exploration of local environments.

    iNaturalist is a joint initiative of the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society.

  2. Who is behind iNaturalist?

    iNaturalist was originally the Master's Final Project of Nathan Agrin, Jessica Kline, and Ken-ichi Ueda at UC Berkeley's School of Information. Check out the About page for more info on the current staff members.

  3. What technologies and data sources does the project use?

    iNaturalist is built using Ruby on Rails, MySQL, jQuery and Google Maps, and Flickr. It also utilizes the Catalogue of Life, uBio, and a variety of other data sources for taxonomic data.

  4. What can I do to help iNaturalist?

    First and foremost, you can be an active member of the community by adding your observations and helping other community members identify their unidentified observations. You can also help by sharing your ideas and feedback. Join our Community Forum to interact with other users, report bugs, and request new features. If you know how to code and want to help work on some features, fork us on GitHub! You can donate to support iNaturalist. There's even more ways to help out, explained on the iNaturalist Community Forum.

  5. How do I contact iNaturalist?

    You can contact us at help@inaturalist.org.

  6. What are staff, curators and site admins?

    iNat staff are the people who run the site. They have direct access to the underlying code and the database, and they can change anything on the site. You can read more about the staff members here.

    Curators are iNat users who volunteer to help keep our taxonomic data up to date and help deal with other issues. This is not the same thing as a project curator. If you're interested in becoming a site curator, please read through the iNaturalist Curator Guide, then contact us, and include your username as well as specific examples of what kind of changes you'd like to make that require curator powers. The main requirement is not taxonomic expertise but attention to detail and an understanding of how iNat works. If you only have a few observations or identifications we'll probably ask you to continue using the site for a little while until you understand it from a normal user's perspective. Curators can also promote other users to curator status. Please only promote people you trust and that you know to have some taxonomic knowledge and attention to detail.

    Site Admins help administer national nodes in the iNaturalist Network including how those nodes are configured etc.

  7. What is considered inappropriate content?

    You know it when you see it, right? Stuff that violates Section 2 of our Terms of Service is definitely inappropriate and worth flagging or otherwise notifying curators/site staff. Milder forms of rudeness are unfortunate, but probably not something we'll delete. Although iNat is primarily for sharing observations of wild organisms, observations of captive animals, garden plants, and other organisms most naturalists may not find interesting are okay (they're alive, after all). Other abiotic phenomena should be marked as "no evidence of organism" in the Data Quality Assessment section. Things that clearly have nothing to do with nature, like what someone had for lunch, are inappropriate and should be flagged. Pictures of pets, humans, abiotic phenomena, or obvious test observations are okay unless someone repeatedly posts such content. If you encounter inappropriate content, flag it or contact the site staff at help@inaturalist.org.

    Copyright violations should be flagged, i.e. re-published text or images that were created by other people without any evidence of permission or license by the creator of the work. If copyrighted images are used, flag the photo(s) directly rather than the observation. You can do this by clicking the "i" (white circle) below the photo and clicking "Flag this photo" in the very bottom righthand corner of that page. Then choose "copyright infringement" in the pop-up and save.

  8. Spam! What do I do about it?

    Like other things beginning with the letter "s," spam happens. If you see something spammy, please flag it as spam. We also have an automated spam filter that flags content as spam. All content flagged as spam will be hidden from public view, and when a user makes three records on the site that get flagged as spam, they will be automatically suspended. When a user makes three observations that become research-grade, they will be whitelisted and nothing they create will be checked for spam. Curators can also manually mark people as spammers and non-spammers from the user profile pages.

    This means that you have a lot of power in your spam flagging abilities, so don't misuse it. Our definition of spam is anything that is clearly intended to make money, which could be links to spurious sites, or by trying to manipulate search engine indexing through lots of links to weird places. For some reason we get a lot of stuff attempting to sell watches (go figure). Here are some things that are not spam:

    • photos that violate copyright (there's a separate flag for that)
    • offensive or inappropriate content created by someone who's clearly a legitimate iNat user
    • anything that you arbitrarily dislike

    If you have any hesitation, please contact a site curator or site admin, or help@inaturalist.org.

    If your content gets incorrectly flagged as spam or you are suspended for being a spammer, please contact us.

  9. Can I use the photos that are posted on iNaturalist?

    iNaturalist does not own the photos that our users post here, they belong to the people who upload them. By default, all photos uploaded to iNaturalist are released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial license. However, some people have chosen to revoke the Creative Commons license to retain complete legal control over copies of their photos, while others have chosen different versions of the Creative Commons license. Some users choose to waive their copyright entirely in the form of the CC0 declaration. It’s important to understand these options when deciding whether or not you can use each photo.

    On an observation page, you’ll see two symbols over the bottom of each photo. The symbol on the left will either be CC or C, denoting that a photo has been released under a Creative Commons license or if full copyright has been retained, respectively.

    • If a photo has a Creative Commons license (CC), it means that you are free to use it under certain conditions. For example, if it is licensed as CC BY-NC, you can use the photo for non-commercial purposes as long you properly attribute the photographer. Clicking on the CC symbol will show the specific CC license and link to an explanation of the license.
    • If the photo is not licensed (C), you will have to obtain explicit permission from the user who posted the photo. If you have an iNaturalist account and have contributed 3 verifiable observations or 3 IDs, you can message them by going to their profile page and clicking the “Message” button.
  10. Do you have any brochures I can print out?

    Sure, we have a tri-fold brochure available for download in PDF form here. It is written in English and is less of an instruction manual than it is a introduction to what iNaturalist is and how people can contribute.

Observations

  1. What is an observation?

    Observations are the basic units of iNaturalist. An observation records an encounter with an individual organism at a particular time and location. This includes encounters with signs of organisms like tracks, nests, or things that just died. You should make separate observations for each separate critter you encounter. iNaturalist provides a place to add this information along with associated text, photos, and tags. If you revisit an organism, such as returning to a plant when it's in bloom for additional photographs, you should make a separate observation because it was observed on a different date.

  2. What kind of photos should I attach to observations?

    Photos attached to observations should include evidence of the actual organism at the time of the observation, observed by the user who is uploading the observation. Photos used in your iNaturalist observations should represent your own experiences, not just examples of something similar to what you saw. Please do not upload photos you found elsewhere, such as online or in a book, since they don't represent your own experiences and are probably a violation of copyright law.

    If you record an observation of a tree, then go back a day later to take another photo, please add a new observation using the new photo, because it represents the tree at a different point in time.

  3. Can I add multiple taxa per observation? What if my photo has a flower AND a cool bug?

    No—iNat observations record one taxon at one place and time. If you want to record an additional species in the same photo, just add a new observation with the same photo.

    If you see an observation that has two or more photos depicting different organisms in each, it's best to identify to the level that fits all photos and make a comment politely asking the user to separate the photos into different observations. For example, if the first photo is a flower and the second is a bug (without the flower), identify it as "Life". If the user is unresponsive to requests to separate the photos, mark the observation as "Based on the evidence, can the Community ID still be confirmed or improved? No, it's as good as it can be" in the Data Quality Assessment section.

  4. What does captive / cultivated mean?

    Checking captive / cultivated means that the observation is of an organism that exists in the time and place it was observed because humans intended it to be then and there. Likewise, wild / naturalized organisms exist in particular times and places because they intended to do so (or because of intention of another wild organism). The main reason we try to flag things like this is because iNat is primarily about observing wild organisms, not animals in zoos, garden plants, specimens in drawers, etc., and our scientific data partners are often not interested in (or downright alarmed by) observations of captive or cultivated organisms.

    Since this tends to be kind of a gray area, here are some concrete examples:

    Captive / cultivated (planted)

    • zebra in a zoo
    • poppy in a garden
    • tree planted 1, 10, or 100 years ago by humans
    • butterfly mounted in a display case and not appropriately marked with date and location of original collection
    • your pet such as a dog or cat
    • plants that grew from seeds that were planted in the ground or scattered

    Wild / naturalized

    • zebra in the Serengeti (assuming it's not in a zoo in the Serengeti)
    • fly on a zebra in a zoo
    • weed or other unintended plant growing in a garden
    • butterfly that flew into a building
    • snake that you just picked up (yes, it's in your hand where you intended it to be, but the place and time is where the snake intended to be)
    • feral dog or cat
    • your museum/herbarium specimens that are appropriately marked with date and location of original collection
    • garden plant that is reproducing on its own and spreading outside of the intended gardening area
    • a pigeon that benefits from human populations but is not actually raised by humans
    • a bird caught by a pet cat (presuming the bird isn't also a pet)
    • living organisms dispersed by the wind, water, and other forces apart from humans
    • a species that had been introduced to a new region and has established a population outside of human care
  5. How can I get help identifying what I saw?

    Just make observations of wild organisms that have photos, locations, and dates. Every observation with those things gets automatically placed in the "Needs ID" category so people who are looking for observations to identify will find them. Observations without those three things are not eligible for "Research Grade" status and thus get placed in the "Casual" category, since identifiers probably won't be able to help if there's no photo or location.

    So, the key to getting things identified is to record identifiable observations! Check out this video for tips on taking identifiable photos.

  6. Why doesn't iNaturalist recognize the name I've entered?

    iNaturalist has name information for many different kinds of organisms and continues to add new species names to our database. If we do not recognize a particular name you have entered, it's possible it is an outdated synonym or that it is simply missing from the database.

    If a species or other taxon is missing from the iNaturalist database, first try clicking the "Search external name providers" link that appears after you search for a name and get no results. You can also try alternative names that we might recognize (common names, old scientific names). If that doesn't work, add the original name to the description or as a comment. Then navigate to the taxon page where the name should appear, such as the genus of the missing species, and click "Curation," then "Flag for curation" on the right side of the page. Leave a short message explaining what needs to be done as well as some information establishing the legitimacy of the name, like links to websites or books that use it.

  7. What is the data quality assessment and how do observations qualify to become "Research Grade"?

    The Data Quality Assessment is a summary of an observation's accuracy, completeness, and suitability for sharing with data partners. The building block of iNaturalist is the verifiable observation. A verifiable observation is an observation that:

    • has a date
    • is georeferenced (i.e. has lat/lon coordinates)
    • has photos or sounds
    • isn't of a captive or cultivated organism

    Verifiable observations are labeled "Needs ID" until they either attain Research Grade status, or are voted to Casual via the Data Quality Assessment.

    Observations become "Research Grade" when

    • the community agrees on species-level ID or lower, i.e. when more than 2/3 of identifiers agree on a taxon

    Observations will revert to "Casual" if the conditions for Verifiable aren't met or

    • the community agrees the date doesn't look accurate
    • the community agrees the location doesn't look accurate (e.g. monkeys in the middle of the ocean, captive/collected organisms observed inside a building but unlikely to have been found there naturally, etc.)
    • the community agrees the organism isn't wild/naturalized (e.g. captive or cultivated by humans or intelligent space aliens)
    • the community agrees the observation doesn't present evidence of an organism, e.g. images of landscapes, water features, rocks, etc.
    • the community agrees the observation doesn't present recent (~100 years) evidence of the organism (e.g. fossils, but tracks, scat, and dead leaves are ok)
    • the community agrees the observation no longer needs an ID and the community ID is above family
    • the observer has opted out of the community ID and the community ID taxon is not an ancestor or descendant of the taxon associated with the observer's ID

    And of course there are even more caveats and exceptions:

    • "Research Grade" observations will become "Needs ID" if the community ID shifts above the species-level
    • "Research Grade" observations will become "Needs ID" if the community votes that it needs more IDs
    • Observations can be "Research Grade" at the genus level if the community agrees on a genus-level ID and votes that the observation does not need more IDs
    • The system will vote that the observation is not wild/naturalized if there are at least 10 other observations of a genus or lower in the smallest county-, state-, or country-equivalent place that contains this observation and 80% or more of those observations have been marked as not wild/naturalized.
  8. What is geoprivacy? What does it mean for an observation to be obscured?

    Geoprivacy is a manual setting you can select on your observations that controls how the spatial coordinates (latitude and longitude) are displayed. Taxon geoprivacy is an automatic setting applied to taxa that may be threatened by collection/harvesting or otherwise disturbed due to the public's knowledge of its location. Here are the options for each:

    open

    Everyone can see the coordinates, unless the taxon geoprivacy is "obscured" or "private". Appears as a teardrop-shaped marker.

    obscured

    Public coordinates are shown as a random point within a 0.2 by 0.2 degree area that contains the true coordinates. This area works out to about a 22 by 22 kilometer area at the equator, decreasing in size and narrowing as you approach the poles. The randomized public coordinates appear within the rectangle as a circular marker without a stem. True coordinates are only visible to you, trusted users, and trusted project curators. iNaturalist Network organizations, in their respective countries, can view true coordinates for taxa set to automatically obscure, but they can only view your manually obscured coordinates if you choose to affiliate with the network in your account settings.

    private

    Coordinates are completely hidden from public maps. True coordinates are only visible to you, trusted users, and trusted project curators. iNaturalist Network organizations, in their respective countries, can view true coordinates for taxa set to automatically display as private, but they can only view the coordinates of observations you have manually set to private if you choose to affiliate with the network in your account settings.

    Again, note that some users and organizations may be able to see your private or obscured coordinates depending on your project settings, account settings, and the taxon geoprivacy.

    An illustrated explanation of geoprivacy settings can be found here.

    Example of geoprivacy settings (as viewed by other iNaturalist users and the public):

  9. How do I add sounds?

    You can add sounds by dragging wav, mp3, or m4a format sound files into the uploader on iNaturalist. You can also import sounds using the import tool, similar to the uploader. Sound files may added to existing observations as well, via this method. The Android and iOS apps do not currently support sound uploads.

  10. Can I upload videos to iNaturalist?

    Currently, iNaturalist only supports the uploading of still images and sounds. As a workaround you can use a screen grab from your video for the observation's still image, then upload the video to a video hosting site such as Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo, or Google Photos and link to the video in the observation's description.

  11. What are tags, observation fields, and annotations?

    Tags are keywords you can add to an observation to make them easier to find. For example, if a barracuda followed you on a scuba diving trip in Turks and Caicos, you might tag the observation "scary, barracuda, scuba diving, vacation, turks and caicos".

    Annotations and observation fields are other ways to mark observations that work differently. You can read more in this article on Annotations.

  12. What does it mean to link iNaturalist to my Flickr account?

    iNaturalist can link directly to the Flickr photo service so that you can add your Flickr photos to your observations. When you agree to link your Flickr account, you are simply linking two accounts; we do not have access to your Flickr password and you are not forsaking your copyright nor giving us the ability to use any of your photos in ways that you do not want.

  13. Why is my observation not showing up in a Place or Collection project? I know I observed it there.

    The most common cause has to do with how iNaturalist indexes observations as being in a place. Each place boundary has what is called a "bounding box," which is a rectangle of latitude/longitude lines that inscribe the entire boundary. For example, below in red is the approximate bounding box for Lake Merritt, in Oakland:

    iNaturalist will not index an observation as being in Lake Merritt if either the observation's accuracy circle or obscuration rectangle break that bounding box. We do this to prevent observations from being added to a place when there's a chance they were not found there and, more importantly, to prevent users from narrowing down the location of an obscured observation. This means that if you have a Collection project for a small place, obscured observations as well as observations made near the edge of the boundary may not be displayed in your project and you may want to consider using a Traditional project.

    Note that this does not apply to counties, states, and countries and their equivalents, which are “standard places” in iNaturalist (as opposed to “community curated places” that anyone can add).

  14. Can I upload my old photos as observations?

    Yes, as long as you know the correct date and location, it's fine to post older photos. Here's an interview with a user who's posted decades worth of slides from his archive.

  15. What do the map symbols mean?

    We represent observations on maps in two broad ways, to show large quantities of observations on the map at the same time or at coarse zoom levels, we use circles. When showing fine zoom levels, we use "markers," which look like teardrops for observations with public coordinates but display as circles if the observation location is obscured from the public (see geoprivacy sections above). All observations not flagged as captive or as having location issues are mapped.

    At very fine zoom levels, the grid cells are replaced by individual, clickable points. The colors of the points indicate the branch of the tree of life that the observation represents. A small white point in the center of the marker indicates that observation is Research Grade.

Identifications

  1. What is an identification?

    An identification, or ID for short, is an assessment of the type of animal, plant, or other organism that was observed. It is typically listed with a common name and a scientific name, though some species do not have common names. When you make an observation, identify the organism as best as you can, even if that is just “plant” or “bird.”

    On iNaturalist, other users are encouraged to add identifications to each other’s observations in order to confirm or improve the Community Identification (see further discussion below on Research Grade status). If your ID of your observation differs from the community’s assessment and you prefer that your ID take priority, just reject the community ID by clicking the "Reject?" link above the community ID. You can also opt-out of community IDs entirely by editing your settings.

    Please do not simply “Agree” with an ID that someone else has made without confirming that you understand how to identify that taxon. An identification confirms that you can confidently identify it yourself compared to any possible lookalikes. If you agree with the ID without actually knowing the taxon, it may reach Research Grade erroneously.

    There are several types of IDs:

    • Leading: Taxon descends from the community taxon. This identification could be leading toward the right answer.
    • Improving: First suggestion of this taxon that the community subsequently agreed with. This identification helped refine the community taxon.
    • Supporting: Taxon is the same as the community taxon. This identification supports the community ID.
    • Maverick: Taxon is not a descendant or ancestor of the community taxon. The community does not agree with this identification.
  2. I identified my observation after someone else added a higher-level ID, so why is the observation stuck with the higher-level ID?

    That's the way the community ID system works: iNat chooses the taxon with > 2/3 agreement, and if that's impossible, it walks up the taxonomic tree and chooses a taxon everyone agrees with, so if I say it's Canis and you say it's Canis familiaris, 2/2 identifications agree it's in Canis but only 1/2 think it's Canis familiaris so iNat goes with Canis.

    If you don't like this and want your ID to take priority for your observation, just reject the community ID by clicking the "Reject" link under the community ID. You can also opt-out of community IDs entirely by editing your settings. You don't need to ask people to remove their higher-level ID, especially if it's accurate (but not precise). This doesn't affect an observation's potential to reach Research Grade status, it just gives the observer control over what taxon the observation is associated with.

  3. Why do people keep adding "obvious" IDs like "Plants" or "Fungi"?

    This usually happens when you did not add an ID yourself, so your observation is sitting in uncategorized limbo. By adding a coarse ID of "Plants" or "Fungi" these identifiers are making it easier for other people to find your observation. Many experts use our taxonomic filters to focus on their taxon of expertise, so if you post an observation of a plant with no identification, these experts will never find it. People adding coarse IDs are almost always trying to help you get more specific IDs.

  4. I don’t agree with iNaturalist’s taxonomy. Do I have to follow it when I add an ID?

    As much as possible iNaturalist tries to follow secondary taxonomic authorities, for reasons explained here. We understand that not everyone will agree with the current taxonomy on iNaturalist, but we believe it is important that when you add an identification to an observation, you should follow the taxonomy here. This is important because:

    • It ensures we are all talking about the same things. While you may not personally agree with our current definition of Exampelia generica, everyone on iNaturalist will at least understand what is meant by an ID of Exampelia generica.
    • When taxonomy is updated, those updates will be correctly reflected in the ID.
    • It prevents messy taxonomic arguments on observation pages, where they don’t belong.

    So if you don’t want to follow iNaturalist’s taxonomy for a taxon, please refrain from adding an ID for said taxon - you can add a polite comment instead. If you have an issue with any taxon on iNaturalist, you can go to the taxon’s page, click on Curate (under the graph) and select “Flag for curation”. There you can write a note (citing evidence), and the site curators can discuss your proposal.

    iNaturalist’s taxonomy is a communally-curated synthesis, and thus no one agrees with all of it. If you can’t accept a taxonomy that you don’t completely agree with, iNaturalist is probably not the place for you, and you should instead consider other data recording platforms.

  5. I posted an observation a few days ago but no one has Identified it yet. Am I doing something wrong?

    It’s important to remember that all identifications on iNaturalist are made by other users who are all volunteering their time to identify observations; there are no iNaturalist staff members who are paid to add identifications. This means it can take some time for observations to receive identifications. As of early September 2019, the average time it takes for an observation to receive an ID is about 557 hours (a little over 3 weeks). You can check the current number on the Site Stats page. Some observations never receive an ID.

    Other factors affecting time to ID are:

    • How active the identifier community is in your area. Generally, the more active users there are in a region, the sooner observations there will get identified.
    • What type of organism you observed. Birds, reptiles, and amphibians generally get identified more quickly than other taxa. Plants, fungi, insects, spiders, fish, mollusks, and others generally take longer, but this can vary.
    • Whether the photos or sounds you uploaded are helpful with identification. In general, it’s best to have close, detailed photos that depict multiple parts of the organism, such as the leaves and flowers of a plant, or the top and bottom of a mushroom cap. Blurry, distant photos are often not useful for identification.
    • How “searchable” your observation is. Adding even a coarse ID to an observation, like “Insects” or “Plants” will help users searching for observations of those taxa to find your observation. And because iNaturalist’s focus is on wild organisms, observations of captive/cultivated organisms do not turn up in search results by default, so you’re better off posting wild organisms.

Computer Vision

  1. What is computer vision?

    Computer vision is the process of teaching computers to recognize patterns in images. iNaturalist launched its first computer vision demo in April 2017. iNaturalist uses computer vision systems trained on users' photos and identifications in order to provide automated taxon identification suggestions. The model's identification abilities reflect the collective human expertise of the iNaturalist community.

  2. Which taxa are included in the computer vision suggestions?

    Taxa included in the training set must have at least 100 photos, at least 50 of which must have a community ID. As more observations are added and more identifications made, additional taxa can be added to the computer vision suggestions. This means your observations and IDs work to improve the model!

  3. Why can't computer vision identify my photo correctly?

    The computer vision suggestions are most accurate for areas with high activity on iNaturalist, such as North America and New Zealand. It may be that the species you are observing is not yet included in the possible suggestions (see above).

    It's also important to remember that the computer vision model is not trained to recognize a certain species—it is trained to recognize typical iNaturalist photos of a certain species. Most photos on iNaturalist are taken with smartphones or other consumer-grade equipment and the organisms are almost always in situ. If you try to use computer vision on pinned insects, for example, it probably won’t work that well because most of the images it’s been trained on were of insects observed in the wild.

  4. How can I tell if someone selected a computer vision suggestion?

    If a user has selected a computer vision suggestion for their identification, a small icon will appear in the upper right of their ID when viewing iNaturalist through a web browser. Clicking the icon reveals additional information about computer vision.

    Note: It is not possible to tell whether the user selected a computer vision suggestion because they are following the suggestion versus whether they are simply using the tool as an "autofill" to save time and effort typing out species names.

  5. What does "Seen Nearby" mean?

    The “Seen Nearby” label on the computer vision suggestions indicates that there are other Research Grade observations of that taxon that are:

    • within 100 kilometers of the observation's coordinates and
    • observed around that time of year (45 days before and after, in any year).

    Taxa that have been seen nearby and are visually similar to the photo in question are more likely to appear near the top of the suggestions.

  6. Science and Research

    1. How is iNaturalist data used for research?

      iNaturalist observations are used in hundreds of scientific publications. Many of them are using data that is shared with the Global Biodiversity Information Facility as part of the iNaturalist Research-Grade Observations dataset. You can browse the ongoing list of the publications that have cited a GBIF dataset containing at least one record from iNaturalist. Some of the most noteworthy applications of iNaturalist data are highlighted on the Press page.

    2. How can I download data from iNaturalist?

      Anyone with an account can export data from iNaturalist as a spreadsheet in csv format. You can start from the Explore page and click download in the lower right of the filters box. Or you can go directly to the export page (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/export).

      If you plan to publish a paper using iNaturalist data, we recommend downloading iNaturalist data from the Global Biodiversity Information Facility because they will issue a citable DOI (see below for more details).

    3. I am a researcher working for a governmental agency. How can I access the true coordinates of sensitive species?

      To protect sensitive species and our users’ privacy, the iNaturalist platform will not grant any organization or user access to private coordinates unless the observer has agreed to share them with you. The best way to do this is to create a Traditional project and reach out to the observers, asking them to join your project and add the observation(s) in question to the project. More information on Traditional projects can be found on our Managing Projects page.

      The observer has to join your project and choose one of the “Yes” options shown here:

      Another method to obtain these coordinates is to have the user trust you, which they can do via the Manage Relationships link on their Account Settings page. If they trust you, you will be able to see all of their private or obscured locations.

      If you have permission to view true coordinates of an observation in your project, you should be be able to see those when you go to the observation and when you download a CSV file of observations in your project. For the latter, look under the “private_latitude” and “private_longitude” columns.

    4. How should I cite iNaturalist?

      Please cite a GBIF download! The easiest way for us to track research using iNaturalist is for you to download and cite a corresponding dataset from the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF). Once per week, research grade records on iNaturalist that are licensed for re-use are shared with GBIF. If you need additional records from iNaturalist that are not available from GBIF, you can also cite a dataset downloaded directly from iNaturalist. Citing a DOI for a GBIF dataset allows your publication to automatically be added to the count of citations on the iNaturalist Research-Grade Observations Dataset on GBIF.

      If you just want to cite iNaturalist (to refer to it generally, rather than a specific set of data), please use the following: iNaturalist. Available from https://www.inaturalist.org. Accessed [date].

    5. Which iNaturalist observations are exported for GBIF, and how often does this export happen?

      Research-grade observations with CC0, CC BY, or CC-BY NC licenses. iNaturalist generates data for GBIF once a week, and we believe they import it once a week.

    6. If an observation’s ID or data quality grade changes, will that change be updated on GBIF?

      Changes like this will be reflected in presence or absence of the observation in the DwC-A file iNaturalist generates for them. These changes should show up on GBIF when they import that archive.

    7. What other sites use iNat data exports?

      iNaturalist generates these pre-packaged data exports for the following entities:

      Other sites such as CalFlora and GLOBI, among others, pull data from iNaturalist's API.

    Lists

    1. What are lists?

      Lists are simply lists of taxa (not observations). For example, you could make a list called "My Favorite Turtles" and add all your favorite turtles. There are a number of different kinds of lists, and they behave in different ways.

      List

      Just a simple list of taxa with no special behavior.

      Life List

      Automatically updates based on your observations. Everyone on iNat has a default life list that contains every species that person has observed. If you delete an observation or change your ID, the species will get removed. You can also manually add taxa to your life list just like you can with an ordinary list. The species you add manually won't get removed if you observe them and then delete the observation.

      You can also make additional life lists for specific groups of organisms, like a life list of birds, or a life list of milkweeds.

      Project List

      A project list belongs to a project and lists all the taxa observed by members of that project. Project lists can also be populated manually by the admin of that project, and can be used to restrict project contributions to taxa that are on the list.

      Check List

      A check list is a list of taxa that occur in a place. Every place has a default check list, and whenever an observation is made within the place's boundaries and it has achieved research-grade status, the species observed will get automatically added to the place's check list.

      iNat users can also add additional check lists to places, but these check lists are not automatically updated. They mainly provide a way for people to bring in outside sources of data or just list things based on their own experience.

    2. I observed a species, so why isn't it showing up in my life list?

      While the life list is automatically populated from added observations, the species will not be added to this list if iNaturalist does not recognize the name you used. We recommend trying alternative names that we might recognize.

      As observations move from one taxa to another (via changing identifications etc.) listed taxa aren’t always properly created and destroyed. This can cause your list to quickly get out of sync with the list of taxa represented by your observations displayed elsewhere on the site such as Explore. Likewise, choosing to manually create or remove listed taxa from your Life List or change the ‘Rank restrictions’ setting from the default ‘allow any’ will cause your Life List to get out of sync with your observations. Read more about how iNaturalist counts species and other taxa and how to resync your life list.

      Note that as of 2018, we aren't actively developing Lists and we are considering replacing the functionality they offer with more scalable approaches.

    Projects

    1. What are projects?

      Projects collect observations under a common purpose. Any iNaturalist user can create a collection project, however you need to have 50 verifiable observations to create a traditional project.

      But it is not necessary to create or contribute to a project to enjoy using iNaturalist. Before you decide to create a project, we recommend you spend several weeks or months using iNaturalist and becoming an active member of the community by regularly adding IDs, comments, and observations. You should be familiar with iNaturalist before creating a project. You can read much more about projects here.

    2. How do I restrict project contributions to a geographic area?

      When you're editing your project you'll see a section called "Observation Requirements." Enter the place that you want the observations to be restricted to under the "Place" section. Only places with boundaries in our database are available.

      Observations with obscured coordinates or large accuracy circles might not show up in smaller places, as explained here.

    3. How do I restrict project contributions to a geographic area that isn't already in the database?

      If you have 50 verifiable observations, you can make your own place! Click "Places" under the "More" tab in the site header, and click "Add a new place" in the lower right. Choose the "Manually create a new place" tab and draw a boundary around the place you'd like to create by clicking on the map, or upload a KML file. Give your place a name, save it, and you should be able to choose it when editing your project.

    4. Why can't I add my observation to this project?

      If you're unable to add an observation to a project, it is likely a "collection" type project, which is essentially just a filtered search on all observations. Observations are never “in” a collection project; they either meet the project’s requirements and are automatically displayed when the project page is loaded, or they don’t.

      You cannot add or delete individual observations from a collection project. However, note that you can always edit the project to tweak its settings. Because a collection project is a just saved observations search, there is no way for you to exclude specific observations from appearing on a collection project’s page. Please see the Managing Projects page for more information.

    5. Can I get around the 50 verifiable observations limit for creating a place or a traditional project?

      There is no way to get around this restriction, even if you ask us at help@inaturalist.org. It should not take more than a few hours to reach the 50 verifiable observation threshold. Note that you might not be able create a place or a project for about an hour once you reach the threshold. Here's our blog post explaining the motivations behind this restriction.

    Taxa

    1. How do I add a missing species to the iNaturalist database?

      If a species or other taxon is missing from the iNaturalist database, first try clicking the "Search external name providers" link that appears after you search for a name and get no results. You can also try alternative names that we might recognize (common names, old scientific names). If that doesn't work, add the original name to the description or as a comment. Then navigate to the taxon page where the name should appear, such as the genus of the missing species, and click "Curation," then "Flag for curation" on the right side of the page. Leave a short message explaining what needs to be done as well as some information establishing the legitimacy of the name, like links to websites or books that use it.

    2. Can I add common names?

      You can add common names by going to the Taxonomy tab on a taxon page and clicking "Add a Name", but please abide by the guidelines listed there as well as those listed in the Curator's Guide.

    Guides

    1. What are Guides?

      Guides allow users to create species lists that can be shared with others. Please note that as of January 2019, the Guides feature is presented "as is"; while we don’t have any plans to delete it, we don’t plan to develop it any further.

Revised on 02 de octubre de 2019 by kueda kueda