A new kind of life list

We’re announcing a new way to explore your life list on iNaturalist. To explore the new tool, navigate to your lists and click on 'View My Life List' in the banner.

When you first open the Life List tool, the left panel has a list of all the taxa you’ve observed, organized by category. Note that each entry on your list isn’t necessarily a species but what we call “leaves,” meaning the finest taxonomic ranks represented by your observations (down to species). For example, if you observed a Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes), and some kind of oak (genus Quercus), that would be two “leaves.” That’s why you might see genera listed alongside species. (Forgive us when we sometimes use the word “species” to avoid jargon when we really mean leaves.) The plain numbers next to each row represent the number of observations at or below that node. The numbers in the green circles represent the number of observations at exactly that taxonomic rank and not at a finer rank (ignoring subspecies). We’ll discuss the controls on the left side above the list later.

On the right panel you’ll see this same set of taxonomic leaves in grid form sorted by number of observations. If you change the “Sort” button on the right side to “taxonomic” the grid in the right panel will show the same entries in the same order as the list on the left panel.

If you click the “Observations” button on the right side, you’ll see the individual observations behind these species ordered by date added.

If you click on any name on the list in the left hand side, the species grid on the right hand side will restrict to just that taxon or category. You can also navigate around your list by entering a taxon in the search bar on the left side or choosing one of the iconic taxa.

If you click on one of the numbers on the left hand side, the right hand panel will be populated with the corresponding observations. Similarly, clicking on numbers in green circles will populate the right hand panel only with observations sitting at that node (e.g. excluding descendants).

The place filter on the right hand side will display only results from observations made in that place.

The “Unobserved Species” button will populate the right panel with species not on your life list that have been observed by others, either globally or within the selected place.

The “Export” button will export your life list in CSV format.

The “Tree View” button on the left hand side replaces the simplified list (grouped by selected categories) with a fuller taxonomic hierarchy. It excludes some ranks by default, but you can use the “View" button to toggle to the “Full taxonomy” if you’d like. In “Tree View,” clicking on the elements in the tree will expand and collapse the tree while the leaf (or binocular) icon focuses the right hand panel.

We hope you enjoy this new tool. If you want to support the development of new features like this, donations are always appreciated. Today, we've only added new functionality and haven't changed any existing functionality, but you can learn more about how this fits into future changes we’re making to existing list functionality on iNaturalist including original life lists here.

Posted by loarie loarie, October 27, 2020 21:17



Could we toggle the taxonomy to start with plants, instead of animals?

Posted by dianastuder 28 days ago (Flag)


Posted by trh_blue 28 days ago (Flag)

Congrats!, Is it possible to do the same with identification life lists? @loarie

Posted by rafael_gianni 28 days ago (Flag)

Looks good!

Posted by cthawley 28 days ago (Flag)

So excited I can finally compare my observations with those of others in an area, I have wanted this function for so long!

Posted by madfox 28 days ago (Flag)

Very nice. Will the Fungi get a taxonomic breakdown, too? Right now, it looks like everything is all together.

Posted by hchrish200 28 days ago (Flag)

Cool! Where you can select to show leaves, species, genera, families, orders, etc. would it be possible to add an option to show subspecies as well? There's currently not a good way to get an overview of those on the right side.

And it'd be really cool if you could apply the "Sort: Taxonomic/Most Observed/Least Observed/Name" and the "Show:Orders etc." filters in the unobserved species tab as well.

Posted by stanvrem 28 days ago (Flag)

Great work, really helps put your life list in perspective.

Posted by kemper 28 days ago (Flag)

looks good!!

Posted by torgos23 28 days ago (Flag)

FYI: The right panel has an option to sort by "Date Added," but it seems to be sorting by date observed instead.

Posted by adamschneider 28 days ago (Flag)

This is just amazing, congrats on the launch, folks. Consider moving the link to a more visible space (e.g. next to Your observations in the main navigation menu)? Right now it's kind of buried behind multiple clicks.

Posted by radrat 28 days ago (Flag)

my life list has at least 2 species I have never seen. it uses the first ID instead of the last confirmed one so there's some mistakes. EDIT: the list in the new view seems to be accurate but the old one isn't

Posted by booksandcookies 28 days ago (Flag)

Wow, great work! Will this replace the "Species" list that is currently in our profile?

Posted by hydaticus 28 days ago (Flag)

Wow! great tool!

Posted by jenniferf4 28 days ago (Flag)

I would especially like to sort the list by "first observed." This would allow me to easily see species I have recently added to my life list.

Posted by dan_johnson 28 days ago (Flag)

nice! my initial impression is that this is excellent. i do notice there are some quirks to using this on a touchscreen device with a small screen. for example, on my Pixel 3a, if i view the page with my phone oriented in landscape, there's only a very small slice of the screen that actually displays the list. if i view things in portrait mode, then i will tend to zoom in, and when i have things zoomed in, i have to remember that if i want to scroll the whole page, i have to flick up and down on an area of the page that doesn't contain the actual list or taxa/observations. still, a much welcomed change for the better.

Posted by pisum 28 days ago (Flag)

This looks great! I don't interact with my current life list because I don't find it very intuitive, but this version has everything organized much better

Posted by kristendiesburg 28 days ago (Flag)

Much better than it was previously. Thank you iNat developers!

Posted by calebcam 28 days ago (Flag)

Pretty cool except that it doesn't seem to show subspecies and varieties. I'd like to see those on both sides as many subspecies and varieties are different species that are just currently recognized at the wrong rank.

Posted by keirmorse 28 days ago (Flag)

Woah! Who drew all those cute little doodles?

Posted by bennypoo 28 days ago (Flag)

This is a big improvement over the old version, but it makes me feel a bit claustrophobic. Is there any way to get rid of the footer? On my 13-inch screen, it takes up almost half of the window once I scroll down to the top of the actual list. A full screen view of the list would be nice.

Posted by treegrow 28 days ago (Flag)

A very nice tool indeed! :)

Posted by twan3253 28 days ago (Flag)

I second treegrow's comment. Another alternative would be allow us to drag the vertical line over so the text list takes up less of the screen. In "most observed" order, I see only three species on my laptop. In taxonomic order, I only see TWO. :-(

Also, the photos are not mine, as they were in the old version of the life list.

Posted by eknuth 28 days ago (Flag)

I third treegrow and eknuth on somehow letting this take up more vertical real estate. Great otherwise.

Posted by huronia 28 days ago (Flag)

This is fantastic -- what an improvement! Kudos to the designers and developers.

Posted by sullivanribbit 28 days ago (Flag)

Looks cool. A great addition.
Where does one log annoyances - should not really be here. But:

please minimize the footer
subspecies: how can we work wiithout subspecies and varieties? In Africa we cannot work without them. Only the herpetologists have upgraded all the subspecies to species: every other taxon is full of them and for conservation (planning, inventorizing, publicizing, monitoring) and identification they are essential.
it does not do subspecies and varieties, but it shows hybrids? Please!
is the this time to ask for a review of the higher plant taxonomy? Is iNat plant blind? It is certainly out of date!
for plants and insects we definitely need to include the rank "Tribes" in the simplified taxonomy. And Fungi need some serious attention!
can we please have a "show everything" button: pressing "show more" dozens of times is a pain! Perhaps after three "show mores" the "show all" option should pop up.
can the default view please be "species" rather than observations. There is a binoculars to view observations, so pressing the number should default to the species tab.

And likes:

the unobserved by place is really cool! Will distract me though from finding species no one has observed yet, to targeting the low hung fruit that I have missed.
the full taxonomy feature is really amazing. Love it!
This will certainly make several of my bookmarks redundant. Many thanks.

((Oh: the preview shows this totally differently as a bulleted list)))

Posted by tonyrebelo 28 days ago (Flag)

Looks great.
Some new features and toys to play with.
Do agree with the footer. Kinda large and taking up a lot of screen space.
The unobserved is great. Gives incentive to what to look out for.

Posted by shauns 28 days ago (Flag)

Is there still no way to exclude captive observations from a life list?

Posted by neontetraploid 28 days ago (Flag)

Love it; especially the Unobserved Species. But is there a way to add other filters? I want to see, for example, what plants (only) I haven't seen in an area, as well as filtering out exotic species I don't want to record or look for?

Posted by richardgill 28 days ago (Flag)

@richardgill - click the plant icon in to top of the left panel. [beware the animal icon which is a leaf with an eye].
Can the icon order not follow the standard in the filter box please?: it seems to be haphazard in sequence [alphabetical by Latin name?]. (and still no bacteria icon and viruses - icon nor entry in taxonomy view: [https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=any&subview=grid&taxon_id=131236&view=species])

Posted by tonyrebelo 28 days ago (Flag)

Good job!

The bottom part of the page with about us, help etc.. is HUGE. Not sure if that’s how it’s meant to be or if an issue with my browser (I’m on Safari on iPadOS)

Is there a way to filter out captive observations and to filter to only research grade observations?

Posted by youssefelnahas 28 days ago (Flag)

@tonyrebelo - that helps, thanks. Would still be nice to have a way to filter out exotics/introduced species? I still have to page through pages of exotics to find the indigenous species tucked in among them. This filter does exist for normal observations, but not in this new Unobserved function...

Posted by richardgill 28 days ago (Flag)


Unobserved species for me from Cape Town (place_id=52355) gives the entire world - well (Unobserved Species = 226,139)
It works fine for observed species.

If the unobserved species cannot be filtered by the place checklists (either checklist or observed instances), then please remove that option from the screen.

(4 hours later: fixed - I am impressed)

Posted by tonyrebelo 28 days ago (Flag)

On my 11" MacBook the species shown on the right are in an awkward and small nested box. The size shown in the screenshot is at the maximum of that nested box, i.e. it does not get bigger when scrolling down the parent window.
inat screenshot

Posted by andrewgillespie 28 days ago (Flag)


Posted by tnaturalist 28 days ago (Flag)

Exciting! This is a great improvement over the old lifelists. Congrats.

I see it uses a new /v1/taxa/lifelist_metadata?observed_by_user_id={id} endpoint. Will it be documented here? https://api.inaturalist.org/v1/docs/#/Taxa

I also see this endpoint returns a very compact representation of all of the user's lifelist taxa in a single request. I was a little concerned this might break for users with a lot of taxa. In fact, the first time I tried it with silversea_starsong, the page did break:


But when I later tried it a second time, it worked, taking about 3.5s to complete this request:


Posted by benarmstrong 27 days ago (Flag)

Looks good, will take some time to get used to.

Is there any way to collapse the observation panel for those with smaller (or portrait orientation) screens? The taxonomy tree is cutoff and not readable, it'd be nicer if that part could take up the whole screen.

edit: even if I rotate the screen, the observation pictures now take much more horizontal space but the taxonomy tree stays the same width - I still have to horizontal-scroll to look at it.

Please let me minimize the part with the pictures.

Posted by schoenitz 27 days ago (Flag)

This is fantastic! I'm gonna use this a lot! Thank you.

Minor issue: When you select "Unobserved Species" and filter by a location it returns the correct list. But under a given species where it has the number of observations, that link has place_id=any so it returns all observations of that species, not just the ones from that location.

Posted by chrismerkord 27 days ago (Flag)

Super! Gracias

Posted by victoracostachaves 27 days ago (Flag)

Amazing, thank you so much for this! Great Improvement!

Posted by mythical_mold 27 days ago (Flag)

Thanks for all the feedback so far. I'm glad to see people are mostly enjoying these new Life Lists. It seems like the unobserved filter is getting some good use.

We hear the feedback about issues with the size of the interface, and lack of ability to customize it. We'll work on ways to address this, particularly for users with smaller displays. This will likely result in some small iterative changes over the next few days or weeks.

Thanks for pointing out the mislabelled sort for Date Added - I'll get that fixed today. I'll also look into issues with the unobserved filter returning all taxa in some cases.

Subspecies are currently listed in the tree views, but there is no way right now to see them on the right-hand "Species" panel summary unless you've selected a subspecies. We'll look into offering that as an additional option in the "Show:" menu there. The issue we wanted to avoid is when a species has multiple subspecies with associated observations, if we use the subspecies as leaves, they may appear lower on the Most Observed list since the counts will be distributed across multiple taxa. Similar to the Explore page, where if we went down to subspecies then Mallard would no longer be the top species since many observations at attached to subspecies. But - if we keep the existing behavior as the default and the user can decide to use subspecies leaves instead, that seems like a good way to go.

As for additional filters like quality grade or removing captive observations - we'll take that into consideration and see how those could be included while not over-complicating the UI, or duplicating features one could get by jumping over to Explore.

Thanks again for all the feedback! It seems like this initial release has been mostly well-received, and we've gotten some good ideas for how to continue to improve this over time

Posted by pleary 27 days ago (Flag)

I second pleary's thanks for the feedback. Here's an attempt to address some of the remaining questions/points:

dianastuder, probably the best option to have it focus on plants is to click the plant icon https://www.inaturalist.org/lifelists/loarie?taxon_id=47126

rafael_gianni, thats an interesting idea about these kind of visualizations for identifications. On the whole our tools for exploring identifications (https://www.inaturalist.org/identifications) are much more rudimentary than our tools for exploring observations so it would take a while to get there

hchrish200, the taxonomic categories in the list view (which is the same as the simplified tree in the tree view) is a subset of standard ranks (phylum, class, order, family) in the taxonomic hierarchy that serve as intuitive familiar categories for amateurs (since more experienced users can use the full taxonomy in tree view). In our opinon the fungi phyla, classes, or orders weren't super intuitive (ie its not the case that familiar groups like mushrooms, puffballs, morels, and lichen neatly fall out in the evolutionary history)

radrat & hydaticus, as described here the plan is to replace the original life lists with these new ones here soon which will give them the more prominent placing of the original lifelists (e.g. the 'Species' link on user profile)

booksandcookies, yes this new approach is meant to address persistent issues with the original life lists they will replace

bennypoo, I drew the cute doodles, pleary wrote all the code (sigh)

tonyrebelo, there's an open flag on higher plant taxonomy as mentioned there is a big coordination undertaking that we haven't prioritized, the idea of the simplified taxonomy is to have groupings that are as familiar/intuitve as possible to amatuers. Families aren't perfect but thats what we're using. My sense is tribes are pretty unfamiliar to amateurs but they are availbel in the full tree, I believe the 'show more' is meant to avoid overwhelming browsers and for performance, the default view is 'species' but its sticky, binoculrs vs. lead depends on whether you have species or obs selected on the right side

shauns, neontetraploid, richardgill & youssefelnahas, I agree excluding captive would be useful but we held off for now

Posted by loarie 27 days ago (Flag)

laury, thanks for your response. I see the full taxonomy is all there for the fungi. It will encourage amateurs (like me) to use it, compared to the all-in-one list of the simplified taxonomy. Very nice.

Posted by hchrish200 27 days ago (Flag)

This is a vast improvement over the previous life list, and I expect that it will be quite useful going forward!

Posted by arnel 27 days ago (Flag)

@pleary Regarding subspecies and varieties, I just tried the tree view and see them now. The tree is a little confusing at first, but playing with it a bit, it is pretty cool. Good job!

Being able to choose whether leaves can include subspecies and varieties does seem like a good way to go. Then people can choose whether they want to view things more at a simplified-level or not. I wish the whole site had a switch to go between species-centric viewing and minimum-ranked-taxa viewing. So much gets lost/ignored when focusing just at the species rank. That said, it's nice to filter out the subspecies and varieties for beginners and those not interesting in that level of detail so they don't get overwhelmed.

The unobserved species feature is also really cool, but again problematic from the viewpoint of lack of subspecies and varieties. Only slightly useful without that in my opinion as it could miss such a huge number of taxa. Very awesome start though!

Posted by keirmorse 27 days ago (Flag)

Se ve muy bien. Solo tengo una pregunta: las otras listas que yo guardé en mi menú de listas ya no las puedo ver. El acceso no está. ¿Piensan eliminar esta posibilidad de incluir listas de nombres?

Posted by elizatorres 27 days ago (Flag)

@elizatorres when I click on your lists I can see and access several lists https://www.naturalista.mx/lists/elizatorres also we didn't change anything there with this release. If you still think there's a problem can you email help@inaturalist.org and describe the issue with steps to duplicate?

Posted by loarie 27 days ago (Flag)

Thank you! I am so happy to have my life list back and updating! It looks nice and I am very happy to be able to sort by taxonomic rank. Any plans to add subspecies? It's so important to me when I use INat both professionally and personally to be able to see and sort below species rank and I would really love more functionality there. I would also love to see more observations at once. Nice job with the overall look, though.

Posted by abr 27 days ago (Flag)

What a lovely tool! Thank you :-) I never used lists before, but I'm certainly using this one!

One little suggestion: could obs with just sounds have the sound icon rather than the group icon, please? Otherwise it looks like the ob has no data. (Same issue as on collection projects - logged on forum.)

Posted by karoopixie 27 days ago (Flag)

Great tool ! thank you so much for this improvment !
I have one question : in the old list, it was possible to filter the list to see your inactive taxonomical taxa. It was useful to see all the taxonomic changes that happened in your list. I cannot find this tool in the new list. Thanks in advance !

Posted by zanskar 26 days ago (Flag)

This is great news; the old feature was essentially broken and I just ignored it for that reason! I am excited to check this out. If it works the way I would expect it to work this would be a huge improvement! I really appreciate you all focusing on getting this feature fixed. Thanks much!

Posted by cazort 26 days ago (Flag)

I like it - such a great way to explore my observations. Thank you!

Posted by murphyslab 26 days ago (Flag)

Finally, this is awesome and a good idea.

Posted by retiredbackyardbi... 26 days ago (Flag)

Really excited about the possibilities with this new listing format! My only issue is that the footer takes up nearly a third of the screen, hiding a great deal of the information. I've tried it in both Firefox and Chrome with the same results. Can this be reduced or made into a small sidebar that doesn't cover up the observations? Thank you for all the creative and appreciated work you put into this!

Posted by rjadams55 26 days ago (Flag)

There's a problem with translation. On the right side in a drop-down menu of "Show: taxon level" in Russian I guess it's intended to mean "show:level of taxon x", but it's not consistent with first one showing "дети" instead of "детей" while all other choices are in genitive case, but when you choose them it shows "показать: вид (nominative case)" "показать: отряда (genitive case)" <= taxons are in different grammatical cases while should be the same. But my mai question is why not giving the choise in form of "show: plural form of taxon" because when you choose e.g. orders you end up with "показать: отряда" both words are in different grammatical cases (показать/show - what? following word should be in nominative case) so it should be either "показать: уровень отряда" or "показать: отряды". It just seems whoever translated that couldn't decide what they want.

Posted by melodi_96 26 days ago (Flag)

Super jazzed about this update! Is there a way to get a count of the total species observed (equivalent to the [Observed: Yes; Rank: Species; Taxonomic Status: Active] Stats filter options on the original life list)? (since the Observed Species count on the new life list looks to be the count of leaves on the original life list [Observed: Yes; Rank: Leaves; Taxonomic Status: Active]).

Posted by michaelpirrello 26 days ago (Flag)

That is so cool! Thanks for the nice feature. I love it! ...agree about the dimension of the footer, thought.

Posted by ajott 25 days ago (Flag)

Update: Nov 1., 2020: sadly, on Firefox on Android this only blanks out the material and doesn't do anything to help the page layout adjust to make use of the extra space. On the desktop under Chrome, it appears to work, though.

A uBlock Origin browser extension hack to filter out the footer material (until something can be done about it to make this usable for small screens):

! 2020-10-30 https://www.inaturalist.org

This is probably limited in usefulness as many people with small screens may be on platforms where they can't use this browser extension, or other extensions like it. Still, it's interesting to try (especially with Chrome device emulation turned on via Developer Tools) to see what it might look like without the footer.

Posted by benarmstrong 25 days ago (Flag)

This is awesome! Was awaiting this update and can't wait to check it out. Thanks to the iNaturalist team!!!

Posted by vinayak 25 days ago (Flag)

Love the update.

Posted by mothmaniac 25 days ago (Flag)

Very nice overall! Thank you.

I've noticed one thing so far that seems like it's not working properly. For example, if I pull up a list of all the birds I have not seen in a certain place, each resulting bird photo shows a number of observations. Since some of them say "1 observation," it seems clear that the numbers must refer to the number of observations in the place I selected. However, when I click on one of them where it says "1 observation" the place changes so that I get more than the one observation I'm trying to find. It seems like I should just get one observation when I click on the words "1 observation."

Posted by paloma 25 days ago (Flag)


I agree about the footer.
Already mentioned also in the forum, about the Explore page, in order to have a map larger and with a shape closer to a square.
Another alternative: could the footer be an accordion, collapsed by default, or collapsed after a few seconds?

Same issue as the one mentioned by @tonyrebelo ?

Thanks a lot.

Posted by jeanphilippeb 24 days ago (Flag)

This looks like a nice improvement, well done! Is there a functionality to exclude dead observations? I don't count dead things on my life list and I wouldn't be surprised if that was a fairly common point of view. Same for captive things, but I don't upload captives, so it doesn't really apply to me.

Posted by severinus 24 days ago (Flag)

When in species view would it be possible to sort by most recently observed? And yeah I think most people don’t count dead observations in their life list, it’s called a life list!

Posted by youssefelnahas 24 days ago (Flag)

It is a Life list, not a Live list!
Do you also want to exclude spoor, dung, sounds, signs and needs ID? Is that not getting a little complicated?

Posted by tonyrebelo 24 days ago (Flag)

Clearly yes! Or did you see that organism? If not then you can't count it IMO! Sounds do count (for me but also not for everyone) because seeing or hearing are two ways of witnessing a living organism.
We don't have to agree on what to count, I feel strongly that anyone should be able to count species the way they count them. But if my list includes species that I don't count, then it has no value to me.

Posted by severinus 24 days ago (Flag)

It is just that "Dead" is easy by annotation, but the other options are not easy to programmatically exclude.

Posted by tonyrebelo 24 days ago (Flag)

It is easy to remove dead organisms from your life list. Just bring up the list in regular view and there is a tiny "x" below each picture. Using that you can remove species from your personal list.

Posted by rjadams55 24 days ago (Flag)

I just realized there isn't an option for restricting this to wild organisms. This is important to me because I see a lot of plants in arboretums and gardens and such that are not really in their range and/or habitat, and I would like to be able to keep a count or tally of only plants that I have seen in the wild.

Posted by cazort 23 days ago (Flag)

I am convinced that all URL parameters for filtering results should be made available everywhere.

"Filters" button in the Explore page (Observations page).

Posted by jeanphilippeb 23 days ago (Flag)

Congratulations, amazing work.

Posted by danmhaddad 23 days ago (Flag)

I like it a lot! It would be nice if when you choose "Show: Family" the count of species would change to a count of families, etc.

Posted by chrisangell 22 days ago (Flag)

This is amazing! Thank you so much!

Posted by eebee 22 days ago (Flag)

Great idea from @chrisangell , some people keep lists of families, genus, etc, rather than species, like Russ Mittermeier who early this year became the first to ever see all 80 primate genus.
Another suggestion is to be able to see our own photo )not the default ones) when selecting to see "species".

Posted by danmhaddad 22 days ago (Flag)

I’ve been thinking about observing garden plants and street trees in my area (marked as nonwild) so that when others observe those same species, they’ll be automatically marked nonwild. It’ll help with local data quality. The main problem with that is that I really value my lifelist (and my &unobserved_by_user_id=) and don’t want these domestic species messing up my lists. Not putting casual observations on our lifelists will help us with marking nonwilds

Posted by mws 21 days ago (Flag)

...again, it would be good to be able to filter as we wish.

Posted by jeanphilippeb 21 days ago (Flag)

Super cool, when I tried to open this for some reason did not load

Posted by myles678 21 days ago (Flag)

@mws you better do that anyway, filters will come eventually, but cultivated plants marked as wild are everywhere on the map already.

Posted by melodi_96 21 days ago (Flag)

@melodi_96 I do plenty of data quality adjustments already. Until the lifelist & unobserved by filter change, however, I'm not going to make dozens or hundreds of observations of captive species, messing up my listing. For now, it's better to just do it as other people observe the non-wild organisms

Posted by mws 21 days ago (Flag)

Потрясающе! Спасибо!

Posted by ekaterinavoinova 20 days ago (Flag)

Thank you very much Loarie. I see my list.

Posted by elizatorres 15 days ago (Flag)

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