Howdy. If you're just getting started with iNat, check out 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 post your question to our Google Group.
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 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 admins.
You can help iNaturalist by giving us your feedback; join our Google group to sign up for usability studies, report bugs, and request new features. You can also help iNaturalist by adding your observations and helping other community members identify their unidentified observations. If you know how to code and want to help work on some features, fork us on GitHub!
You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
iNat admins 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.
Curators are iNat users who volunteer to help keep our taxonomic data up to date. If you're interested in becoming a curator, please contact us. Curators can also promote other users to curator status. Please only promote people you trust and that you know to have some taxonomic knowledge.
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 the admins about. Milder forms of rudeness are unfortunate, but probably not something we'll delete. Observations of pets, captive animals, humans, and other organisms most naturalists may not find interesting are ok (they're alive, after all). Observations of things that aren't organisms are a gray area. Things that clearly have nothing to do with nature, like what someone had for lunch, are worth flagging and may be deleted, but evidence of pollution or disturbance could be interesting, and probably won't be removed. 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.
An observation is the what, where, and when of a finding in nature. iNaturalist provides a place to add this information along with associated text, photos, and tags. iNaturalist encourages the recording of all nature findings, whether they feature identified species or simple narrative descriptions. (In iNaturalist the same lizard can be described as a Desert Horned Lizard as well as "Mystery Lizard of Death Valley".)
iNaturalist has name information for mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians, and continues to add new species names into our database. If we do not recognize a particular name, try alternative names that we might recognize and add the original name to the tags or description fields.
Check the "ID Please" checkbox when adding / editing your observation and your observation will appear in ID Please.
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.
We also support Picasa: Configure your Picasa account »
We also support uploading photos directly to iNat, but it can be a bit slow, so we only allow one upload at a time. Using Flickr or Picasa is probably faster if you already use those services.
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".
Sure, check out our Observations Widget.
Photos attached to observations should be of the individual observed at the time of the observation. If you record an observation of a tree, then go back a day later to take a picture, please add a new observation for the picture, because it represents the tree at a different point in time.
Not really. iNat observations are one taxon at one place at one time. If you want to record an additional species in the same photo, just add a new observation with the same photo.
This happens when Flickr changes the underlying URLs of the photos, which they do whenever you increase the privacy on your photos (e.g. go from public to friends-only), replace the photo (which is often how 3rd party software like iPhoto choose make updates to Flickr if you make changes), or simply delete the photo on Flickr. We periodically re-sync with Flickr to get the newest photo URLs, but we don't do it that frequently b/c we have a lot of photos and it's kind of slow. You can trigger this sync automatically by following these steps:
If your photo is still on Flickr and your accounts are still connected, the URLs will get updated. If it's been deleted on Flickr or you've revoked iNat's permission to access your Flickr account, the iNat record for that photo will be deleted (the observation will remain, though).
FYI, site curators can repair photo URLs like this for any photos on the site. Non-curators can only do it for their own photos.
Geoprivacy is a setting you can make on your observations that controls how the spatial coordinates (latitude and longitude) are displayed. Here are the options:
Everyone can see the coordinates unless the taxon is threatened.
Public coordinates shown as a random point within 10KM of the true coordinates. True coordinates are only visible to you and the curators of projects to which you add the observation.
Coordinates completely hidden from public maps, true coordinates only visible to you and the curators of projects to which you add the observation.
Note that curators of individual projects can always see the coordinates regardless of your geoprivacy setting, so if you are concerned about who has access to the coordinates you should be sure you trust the curators of the projects in which you participate.
When coordinates are obscured it means that a random point within 10KM of the true coordinates is shown publicly (i.e. on the home page, the observations page, and project pages), while the true coordinates are only visible when you are viewing your own observations (i.e. on the individual project pages and the list of your own observations). Note that curators of the projects to which you've added an observation can also see the true coordinates. Obscured coordinates should always be symbolized by circular marker without stems on maps and in geospatial feeds.
Coordinates are automatically obscured for all taxa that are "NEAR THREATENED" or worse according to the IUCN Red List. Some taxa may be declared threatened according to other conservation authorities, and some may be simply marked as threatened by iNat site curators if they believe it merits protection.
You can also obscure the coordinates of your own observations regardless of what the taxon is. See geoprivacy above.
The data quality assessment is a summary of an observation's accuracy. All observations start as "casual" grade, and achieve "research" grade when
Observations will revert to "casual" grade if the above conditions aren't met or
iNaturalist's species ranges come from a variety of sources, including the IUCN and Birdlife International. None of them are perfect, so sometimes you'll see observations flagged as "out of range" when they shouldn't be. If you find a taxon with a range that is clearly wrong, please flag it and the site curators will investigate. In many cases, though, we will update our ranges en masse the next time we import data from one of our data partners.
It's worth keeping in mind that even the best species ranges are theoretical, and that they are all based on the kind of occurrence data recorded on iNaturalist, so the best thing you can do to improve our understand of where species occur is by observing them!
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.
Just a simple list of taxa with no special behavior.
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.
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.
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.
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.