May 04, 2019

My new identification trick

When trying to identify, say, a beetle in a family that I'm not familiar with, I still have to dig through all the images of beetles in families that I'm familiar with (families that already know it doesn't belong to. I can recognize carabids, scarabs, click beetles, fire fly beetles, leaf beetles, etc. I don't need to be seeing those when I'm searching for something that I know isn't in those families.

So, I created a URL filter to display all beetles EXCEPT those families that I'm familiar with.

This one is for observations within the area I'm usually most interested in--my "bounding box" (which includes most of TX, OK, and LA):,57659,48486,47625,81951,47961,51146,47592,53816,59510,81969,55051,60473,52932,53248,47951,53849,48201,47961,47731,54964

This one is for my own observations (so I can see if I've seen any beetle like this before):,57659,48486,47625,81951,47961,51146,47592,53816,59510,81969,55051,60473,52932,53248,47951,53849,48201,47961,47731,54964

Posted on May 04, 2019 02:10 by pfau_tarleton pfau_tarleton | 3 comments | Leave a comment

April 14, 2019

iNat feature request: view observations by taxonomic hierarchy

I'm really hoping this feature will be added!

Does anyone else like to identify things by perusing a taxonomically sorted guide?

I would like to have any upcoming taxonomic sort feature to be something along the lines of Guides (or something better) so that we can drill down the taxonomic hierarchy as an identification tool. For example, using a Guide such as this one (, I can quickly browse each of the taxonomic groups that I think an unknown specimen might be in, looking for a match or something similar. It’s a great way to become more familiar with the hierarchical structure of biodiversity and a very good way to go about identifying unknown specimens. But it requires a Guide to be able to do this–and they’re no longer supported and take a long while to create for the region of interest. I think the inability to view observations in a taxonomic hierarchy is a huge gaping hole in iNaturalist’s feature list.

Posted on April 14, 2019 14:17 by pfau_tarleton pfau_tarleton | 0 comments | Leave a comment

January 17, 2019

Anemone, anemone, wherefore art thou?

For those of us eager to get a jump on documenting spring wildflowers, the anemones are beginning to bloom here in Texas. There are five species in TX, but most aren't well documented. Anemone berlandieri is the most common. I'm hoping we can fill in the gaps for the less commonly observed species.

Here's a guide to the features that need to be clearly visible in pictures to make a positive ID:

Anemone caroliniana can occur together with A. berlandieri, sometimes growing side-by-side. But it's far less common, and seems to prefer sandy soils. Here's a map showing it's known distribution:

@kimberlietx and I will be pulling together a group in the Fort Worth area to search specifically for A. caroliniana. So far, it's only been documented (on iNat) at three locations in the DFW area. Stay tuned for details on that event.

Please tag anyone who you think might be interested in making Anemone observations!

Posted on January 17, 2019 01:13 by pfau_tarleton pfau_tarleton | 28 comments | Leave a comment

November 22, 2018

Bioblitz in the heart of TX, 17-20 May 2019

Everyone is invited to Timberlake Field Station, Mills County, TX. Tarleton State University’s Timberlake Biological Field Station is an educational and research facility located on the Colorado River in the heart of Texas--midway between Austin and Abilene. The 790 acre property has approximately 2.88 miles of river frontage.

Details of the location and bioblitz can be found here:

Posted on November 22, 2018 01:10 by pfau_tarleton pfau_tarleton | 9 comments | Leave a comment

August 22, 2018

Gopher or mole (without seeing the animal)?

There are three clues to look for when trying to distinguish mole (Scalopus) sign from gopher (Geomys) sign.

1. Texture of soil in the mound:
very lumpy = mole (
granular (and sometimes with a plug visible) = gopher (

2. Position of mounds (not always apparent):
no directional pattern or rarely distinctly curved = mole
several in a fairly straight line = gopher (

3. Depth of tunnel:
only an inch or two = mole (
over a foot = gopher

Posted on August 22, 2018 22:02 by pfau_tarleton pfau_tarleton | 4 comments | Leave a comment

June 09, 2018

Guide to Bumble Bees of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana

Identifying bumble bees can be tricky, but once you know what to look for, the species within this region can be recognized fairly easily (as long as the photo shows the key characters). Hopefully, this guide will be helpful:

I'm far from being a bumble bee expert, so let me know how it can be improved.

Please feel free to share this post.

Posted on June 09, 2018 12:56 by pfau_tarleton pfau_tarleton | 6 comments | Leave a comment

March 25, 2018

Guide to TX Anemones (the plants, not the cnidarians)

There are some neat anemones here in Texas, but key features need to be photographed before they can be distinguished. Here's a guide that I've put together (and am still working on). Please feel free to suggest edits and share the link to this journal post:

Guide to TX Anemones:

Posted on March 25, 2018 21:43 by pfau_tarleton pfau_tarleton | 11 comments | Leave a comment

February 16, 2018

Identify mode is now my friend

I've been using the "Identify" mode more now than my original approach--and I really like it. Since I can't remember names very well, I rely a lot on the "Suggestions" tab--but only for species that I already know don't have look-a-likes in the area.

I finished identifying every heteropteran within 500 km of my home--all 7,200 of them. Well, that's an untruth--I looked at all of them (ID'd the ones I knew). I'm quickly catching up to @sambiology as top identifer of Texas heteropterans. Watch your back Sam, you're going down!

Posted on February 16, 2018 02:27 by pfau_tarleton pfau_tarleton | 2 comments | Leave a comment

January 11, 2018

Restricting "Identify" to a bounding box

If one wants to identify stuff restricted to observations withing a bounding box (rather than state, country, etc), just enter the coordinates of your bounding box in the URL. Like this:

This particular bounding box is centered on my location of residence and is the focus of much of my identifying attention. I had already set the bounding box from the "Observations" page (URL below), and then just pasted the coordinates displayed in the URL into the "Identify" URL above (removing some of the unnecessary accuracy), but one could get the coordinates from anywhere.

[Thanks to Tony in the iNat Google Groups for this awesome tip!]

And if you're more into a circle, here's the bounding radius approach (the radius is in km):

To visualize that circle, just delete "/identify" in the URL:

[Thanks to Chris for this explanation.]

Another handy tip:
In the filter, you can sort by "random" or "date added/ascending" and it will mix up new and old observations or show older posts first (good for snagging some older ones that tend to slip by otherwise).

Posted on January 11, 2018 03:04 by pfau_tarleton pfau_tarleton | 2 comments | Leave a comment

January 04, 2018

Display observations of taxa for which I added an identification

It would be very, very useful if the search features that are available for "my Observations" were available for "my Identifications". For example, if I spent a lot of time trying to ID a particular specimen that someone else observed and then I later saw the same species needing an ID but forgot the name (but remembered that I identified one like it in the past), I could *search* for a higher taxonomic grouping in "my IDs" and scroll through them quickly to find it. This happens to me a lot, but I have to go through the time-consuming identification process all over again. (request made here:!topic/inaturalist/sw6w5ESnIf8)

A work-around was posted here:!searchin/inaturalist/searching$20identifications|sort:date/inaturalist/tz8kWDFTVlI/dznOlJZbBAAJ

For example:

To expand on it's use, if I only wanted to see Heteroptera that I identified, just type in Heteroptera in the species box.

Here's another approach, which I'm still exploring:
There are some parameters to choose from. For example, if I want to see my identifications where I'm a maverick:

Posted on January 04, 2018 14:43 by pfau_tarleton pfau_tarleton | 1 comments | Leave a comment