Welcome, iNaturalist Australia!

Today we officially celebrate the public launch of iNaturalist Australia! The Atlas of Living Australia (ALA) is the eighth organization to join the international iNaturalist Network. ALA is a collaborative, digital, open infrastructure that pulls together Australian biodiversity data from multiple sources, making it accessible and reusable.

Research-grade observations from Australia have been directly incorporated in the Atlas of Living Australia since 2016, similarly to how the Global Biodiversity Information Facility regularly updates research-grade observations on a global scale. By joining the iNaturalist Network and establishing a formal agreement, obscured location data from species at risk can be more easily shared between iNaturalist and ALA.

At the time of launch, Australia has almost 700,000 verifiable observations, which ranks it fourth globally in terms of iNaturalist activity, following the United States, Canada, and Mexico. You can read more about trends in activity in the iNaturalist World Tour post for Australia.

The ALA team is excited to be collaborating with iNaturalist to help more Australians explore biodiversity by sharing their observations, and improve the quality of data in the ALA.

“Working with iNaturalist is a wonderful opportunity for us and our users. Human observation data is a valuable part of the ALA, and iNaturalist Australia's species identification features and data quality measures will ensure plant, animal or fungi sightings are more valuable than ever,” said Andre Zerger, Director, Atlas of Living Australia.

The iNaturalist Network now has eight nationally-focused sites that are fully connected and interoperable with the global iNaturalist site. The sites are: NaturaLista Mexico, iNaturalist NZ — Mātaki Taiao (formerly NatureWatch NZ), iNaturalist Canada, Naturalista Colombia, Biodiversity4All (Portugal), iNaturalist Panamá, iNaturalist Ecuador, and now iNaturalist Australia. Any iNaturalist user can log in on any of the sites using their same credentials and will see the same notifications.

The iNaturalist Network model allows for localizing the iNaturalist experience to better support communities on a national scale and local leadership in the movement, without splitting the community into isolated, national sites. The iNaturalist team is grateful to the outreach, training, translations, and user support carried out through the efforts of the iNaturalist Network member institutions.

We look forward to welcoming many new Australian members of the iNaturalist community and watching how participation grows during the Austral spring and summer!

Posted on September 30, 2019 03:03 PM by carrieseltzer carrieseltzer



Posted by alexis_orion over 4 years ago


Posted by myelaphus over 4 years ago

And you beat us too it too!
At this rate there will be more southern hemisphere communities than northern hemisphere ones (excluding the tropics of course, and not correcting for a major northern bias).

Posted by tonyrebelo over 4 years ago

Congratulations. I hope to be a place full of wonderful species information in the future.

Posted by pintail over 4 years ago

Wow Namibia looks red hot on that map. I didn't remember it being high on the world tour ranking.

Posted by langlands over 4 years ago

@loarie Can you move a bit to the northeast the label of Inaturalist NZ? We can't see the heat map of Borneo and New Guines :)

Posted by langlands over 4 years ago

hm - @abhasm made that figure, but the main point is to show the identify and location of the network nodes, not the background heat map. If you are interested in that heat map, you can explore it here https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/map#3/-15.252/116.472

Posted by loarie over 4 years ago

Congrats on another site!

Posted by arnel over 4 years ago

Any plans for iNat India? I think that would be the next most useful iNat sub-site

Posted by prakrit over 4 years ago

Yes @prakrit , we've had interest from India for sure! @vijaybarve and others are in conversation about it.

Posted by carrieseltzer over 4 years ago

Glad to have the Ozzies on board!

Posted by parker_hopkins over 4 years ago

Kia ora neighbours!

Posted by jon_sullivan over 4 years ago

Congrats! @carrieseltzer

Posted by rafael_gianni over 4 years ago

I got an email from ALA yesterday alerting me to this and logged in via their portal just to see. This will hopefully now attract a few more Australian experts.

PS. That heat map looks cool. ;-) I like heat maps (and dot-maps).

Posted by reiner over 4 years ago

Awesome news!

Posted by crellow over 4 years ago

Congratulations. It is excellent news. I'm excited to see the new Australian records of the southern hemisphere

Posted by geomanuel over 4 years ago

Awesome! I hope this encourages plenty of new Euphorbia observations from the region to ID!

Posted by nathantaylor over 4 years ago

Brilliant news! Haere mai iNaturalist Australia.

Posted by jacqui-nz over 4 years ago

Great to hear! I have a couple of queries/problems with regards to how iNaturalist sightings are transferred to the ALA - who would be the best person to talk to about these?

Posted by matthew_connors over 4 years ago

@matthew_connors one of the site admins is @peggydnew

Posted by thebeachcomber over 4 years ago

@matthew_connors I think Carrie was involved in ALA integration but you might like to ask ALA people. What did you want to know? I think they are transferring about once a week but there are problems if the names are different on ALA, for example.

Posted by reiner over 4 years ago

Good point @reiner. ALA has many name conflicts with iNat, especially marine molluscs

Posted by thebeachcomber over 4 years ago


Posted by katya over 4 years ago

It is quite possible that the iNat dictionary may be poorly collated for Australia. Before our southern African data were transferred we had to update the dictionaries extensively. Once this was done the migration proceeded very smoothly except for hemihomonyms which proved intractable. On the whole for dictionary conflicts we used the existing iNat dictionary listing the conflict in the comment, and have slowly been curating the issues. That worked very well ...

Posted by tonyrebelo over 4 years ago

@tonyrebelo I think iNat is ok for Australia, it's more that the ALA uses a lot of synonymised/outdated names for some weird reason that don't even match with external databases like MolluscaBase for example.

Posted by thebeachcomber over 4 years ago

Hi @matthew_connors, Peggy here from ALA, we are harvesting weekly. If you have some issues the best place to raise them is through support@ala.org.au.

Posted by peggydnew over 4 years ago

As an Australian iNat user for a while, should i 'migrate' over to iNat Australia? what are the benefits of doing so?

Posted by benjaminlancer over 4 years ago

@benjaminlancer You don't need to migrate anything, although you may want to change your "network affiliation" to iNat Australia. There's some discussion about this over at the forum: https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/inaturalist-australia-vs-inaturalist/6909/14

Posted by peggydnew over 4 years ago

@benjaminlancer I encourage you to affiliate your username in account settings to iNaturalist Australia to facilitate data sharing with ALA. For whether you should regularly log in on .org or .ala.org.au, I think that depends on whether you want a more Australia-specific experience or a more global one. Check it out and see what you prefer :-)

Posted by carrieseltzer over 4 years ago

I LOVE looking through the Australian observations! Extremely grateful to the Australian naturalists and biologists for uploading such great photos and data. :)

Posted by sambiology over 4 years ago

Very cool - will this allow iNat to also perform some verification of the directly inputted ALA observations. I love iNat and ALA has some very cool tools as well.

Posted by ryber over 4 years ago

@ryber - there is no data going from ALA to iNaturalist (at this stage anyway). ALA is just harvesting data from iNat weekly and putting it into their DB. Usability managing records on ALA was going backwards and BowerBird had bugs so I began using iNat 2 years ago and abandoned those other two completely a year ago. I've got 7801 records sitting on ALA, from memory a few of those could use updating.

Posted by reiner over 4 years ago

I agree @reiner , iNat by far the easiest/friendliest to use !

Posted by nicklambert over 4 years ago

I hope that we are going to see a good participation this year by Australia in the City Nature Challenge.
For more see here: http://citynaturechallenge.org/

Last year, Australia was the only continent on Earth that did not take part!!! I hope that many of the big Aussie cities will take part this time in 2020!

Posted by tonyrebelo over 4 years ago

Yeah I was very disappointed we didn't participate

Posted by thebeachcomber over 4 years ago

Well, grab the wombat by the ears and organize it! No point in whinging - do it!

Posted by tonyrebelo over 4 years ago

A great political slogan if ever there was one :D

Posted by thebeachcomber over 4 years ago

Having watched Rake I will believe anything is possible in Australia ...
Even the Green Party may win ... when roos fly.

Posted by tonyrebelo over 4 years ago

@thebeachcomber - become an organizer and do one in your home town :) https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSddmaHeeYFckREIfy5-mhNQdUetMdpJuwdC7WD1eMfs84oejw/viewform - I'm to casual and disorganized to make one for Melbourne. [Although first meeting was already in September apparently.]

Posted by reiner over 4 years ago

@tonyrebelo is it too late if a meeting has already happened?

Posted by thebeachcomber over 4 years ago


Posted by sammyjames over 4 years ago

Dont delay. There is no given cut-off time on the site's page. I am certain that they would close the entry page if it was too late.

I dont know: last year Cape Town only registered tentatively in November and only confirmed and attended meetings from mid January. But we did ask for special permission to do so - but the organizers were extremely supportive and encouraging.
Even so: just a little bit more feedback on the official web page will be nice!

Posted by tonyrebelo over 4 years ago

Crikey @tonyrebelo - I just saw all the events you organized for Cape Town CNC - that's amazingly awesome and no wonder you had so much participation. During the day I was half thinking of possibly doing one for Melbourne but I can't organize people or events so I'm basically useless and ruled out. Maybe someone can get something going the following year and I'll participate (ideally something through ALA but I don't think they have a budget for something like that).

Posted by reiner over 4 years ago

I organized nothing!! All I did was give a talk to the Friends Groups of WESSA (there is one for most nature reserves in the City), and to CREW (Custodians of Endangered Wildflowers - who monitor Red List species in Fynbos and Renosterveld remnants) , and asked the organizers of our SeaKeys atlas (the merpeople), and went to see the manager of the City of Cape Town Biodiversity Branch (who told me not to bother with my talk and that they would be participating, and that she would put at least 3 of her stafff onto it and make sure all the reserve managers participated). I did have my intern gather up all the activities onto Facebook and a twitter and other stuff like that that I dont understand, which I think helped a little. Oh: and the scouts.
The rest just evolved with societies and groups enquiring and schools and organizations. It just unfolded when more people found out (and the City staff were really amazing!!)
So there: there is no ways you can do it on your own. In fact, get other people to do all the work: concentrating on reminding, encouraging and badgering the prime movers and shakers. Take the approach that the CNC is a way of recruiting volunteers to your conservation societies, and educating and involving the public. And let it evolve. Although we had lots of hype, we were never really expecting to do more than have a flash in the pan in day one before America woke up, and were expecting to be around #10. What happened blew us away! Aim high, but prepare not to be among the top, but most of all, just enjoy the camaraderie and fun of being part of a global event, and seeing how things unfold. Concentrate on your local achievements: rare species found, unusual sightings, meeting other like-minded participants, and fun things. it is an amazing experience: but you need to take part to understand what I mean. Go for it!

Posted by tonyrebelo over 4 years ago

Sorry about the delay getting back to everyone (only just got reception!) but thanks for the reply guys. @peggydnew I figure I'll bring up my queries here so others can comment on them too and hopefully we can come to some consensus on them.

I see you guys have already talked about some names not mapping correctly - getting straight to the point I was wondering if it would make fixing these easier if we had some sort of logging system or list of taxa that have problems. If I come across anything that needs fixing I'd love somewhere to log the problem. What do other people think of this and would it be easy to implement (or does it already exist and I've just missed it?)?

My bigger issue at the moment is that only sightings from Australia itself are being transferred. As far as I can tell, the AFD and hence the ALA list species for all Australian territories - I think it would make sense to transfer iNat sightings from these territories as well as just the mainland states and territories. Norfolk Island and Christmas Island both come to mind for this. More relevant to me is that sightings from coastal waters aren't being transferred - none of the GBR sightings have transferred (other than a few near islands), nor any from other Australian-owned coastal waters. In my mind I think the best solution would be to just transfer everything that was observed in Australian-owned land or water. What are other peoples' thoughts on this though?

Posted by matthew_connors over 4 years ago

"If I come across anything that needs fixing I'd love somewhere to log the problem" second this wholeheartedly. There are many marine mollusc species I come across on the ALA where the wrong species name is being used.

Just off the top of my head, this is one that's been bugging me for ages: https://bie.ala.org.au/species/urn:lsid:biodiversity.org.au:afd.taxon:debccb27-307f-4d86-b6b4-43d9f62c7515

Lists Turbo militaris as Turbo imperialis; the two aren't even synonyms, they're two different species. Would be more than happy to fix these all myself on the ALA :)

Posted by thebeachcomber over 4 years ago

Agree with having somewhere to log, rather than email every time. Also, yes Matthew Connors, I've noticed that GBR observations and many of my fishing/boating observations offshore have not come across. Seems like a lot of important missing data.

Posted by nicklambert over 4 years ago

Please check: they may have been transferred but just dont show up in "place" Australia (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=6744) because iNat draws the boundaries 2km off the coast. We have requested 200Nm for southern Africa but they are reluctant to allow this, for some unspecified reason.
Alternatively, they may just not have been included as Australian territories e.g.
Xmas Island: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?nelat=-9.64&nelng=108.45place_id=any&swlat=-11.129&swlng=103.225
Norfolk: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?nelat=-28.72&nelng=169.37&place_id=any&swlat=-29.38&swlng=166.755
both appear to have far too much data (1812 obs, 552 spp; 409 obs, 273 spp, respectively) not to have come from GBR.

Who negotiated your boundaries when you became a community?

Posted by tonyrebelo over 4 years ago

@tonyrebelo Nick and Matthew are referring to data going from iNat --> ALA, not the other way around

Posted by thebeachcomber over 4 years ago

Ah: OK.
But the same applies: the filter collecting the data for ALA from iNat might be using the place_id=6744 and thus not accessing the data.

Posted by tonyrebelo over 4 years ago

Good point

Posted by nicklambert over 4 years ago

Place ID 118147 might be better and add whatever territories you want to pull in to ALA. The following link includes the islands and exclusive economic zones:

@matthew_connors ALA should relatively easily be able to get the list of records it can't match an ID for. Ideally they should use a common higher classification until such time as they cross-reference synonyms or whatever they need to do. Unfortunately ALA is a lot less dynamic than iNat with their species list.

Posted by reiner over 4 years ago

How come you have an EEZ (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=118147) and we dont?

Posted by tonyrebelo over 4 years ago

Might have been due to the efforts of @markmcg? The Australasian Fishes project (https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/australasian-fishes) is hugely successful, almost 65 000 observations and 2300+ species, so having that zone is important for it.

Posted by thebeachcomber over 4 years ago

@tonyrebelo in the details it says "Place added to iNat by loarie on November 29, 2016" for the one I just looked at. You are of course free to create your own custom places.

Posted by reiner over 4 years ago

We are free to create our own EEZ, but not larger than Texas, so an EEZ for southern Africa would not float. Would have to be created by loarie for us.
We had our SeaKeys project: (like yours it is a traditional project): - see https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/seakeys-s-afr - sorry only
24,348 observations of which only 22,538 were in the Place "South Africa" for the same reason. So we use southern Africa (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=113055) (which we added before the area restriction was imposed)

Posted by tonyrebelo over 4 years ago

Wonderful! I am so looking forward to browsing their collection. There will be a world tour visit once they’re in, right?

Posted by rozzychan over 4 years ago

World Tour: Are they not already done?

Posted by tonyrebelo over 4 years ago

Yes @tonyrebelo, the Australian EEZ 'place' is used by the Australasian Fishes project. FYI @thebeachcomber.

Posted by markmcg over 4 years ago

Wow this is exciting news!

Posted by twan3253 over 4 years ago

"If you choose to affiliate with a Network site, the local institutions that operate each site will also have access to your email address (only to communicate with you about site activities) and access to the true coordinates for observations that are publicly obscured or private."

Before I read this it was unclear what actually happens when you set an affiliate network.

Posted by andrewharvey about 4 years ago


Posted by aispinsects almost 4 years ago

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