A tool to help you fill local data gaps "Easily Missed"

Hi all,

I’m sure everyone is familiar with iNat’s data gaps. I wanted a quick way to prioritise which species I should upload to iNat, so I came up with a small web application does that. The idea is that it helps us record the species are ‘easily missed’ because they’re common and you presume someone has probably already recorded it locally. You can find the tool here: https://simonrolph.github.io/easily_missed/

Please note this is a work in progress.

How it works, it first looks at what species are recorded in the general region (<5km from where you’re standing). It then looks for those species that haven’t been recorded in your local area (<1km of where you’re standing).

It then presents this data with a little map, some headline numbers for how many species are in the local area versus the region, and a “doughnut score” which is just a % of the previously mentioned. The idea is that if you record the suggested species you’d boost the area’s doughnut score and build a more complete picture of the wildlife in your local area.

For example here is the area around Cal academy of sciences where iNaturalist is based (which has a very high doughnut score unsurprisingly!)

And london:

You then get lists of the species and also a little leaderboard (because who doesn’t love a leaderboard!) of who’s been contributing to the species in your local area.

It’s intended that you’d use it when you’re out and about so it gets the GPS location from your phone (you need to allow gps for it to work, it uses to coordinates to get data from the iNat API to show to you no gps data is stored in the app). Currently you can’t select a new location other than your GPS location (although there are options in Chrome web browser to set your location).

I’d be interested to hear if people would find this useful, does it make sense etc. Are the 1/5km boundaries sensible? What are the doughnut scores in your area?


Very cool! When I try it here at home, the doughnut score is 31.43% - not bad for a spot that’s in a small town that’s got lots of conserved land around it. In other words, lots of the “missing” species with 1 km of my house are never likely to be seen right here, in my judgement, but certainly some should be here - Red Maple, for example.

The 1 km/5 km boundaries are fine, but might be a bit small for areas that are neither densely populated nor densely iNatted. In such cases, it might be helpful to have another option for distances - maybe 5 km/25km?

In general, though, this is great - thank you so much!

Edited to add: Ha! I’ve contributed 94% of the species seen within 5 km of my house - fancy that!

And another thought: Could there be a way to drop a pin in a spot of interest, instead of having to go there myself? That might be an easy way to discover places that clearly need more work.


I do think this would be a great addition. It would be very helpful to be able to choose a location and see which species are missing nearby that have been recorded in the broader area. I can see using this to plan things to look for around locations I expect to visit. It can also help with investigating species distributions more broadly.

The other thing that would be very helpful is the ability to customize the radius settings for nearby and the surrounding area. 1km and 5km seem like good defaults, but sometimes other choices would be better. I live about 1.5 km from the coast, so lots of fish and waterbirds show up as “missing” from my immediate area. Looking at 250 m vs 1 km might produce a more useful list. Conversely, if I’m visiting a remote area, it might be useful to compare a 10km radius of “nearby” sightings to the surrounding 50km circle.


the tool isn’t loading, anyone else having a problem?

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Hmm, It did not load for me in 3+ minutes (iOS 15) . I tried a few times.

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It’s loading fine for me.

I love this tool! It’s really useful but I must say that when the area is not crowded with iNatters it quickly becomes useless with these boundaries. My doughnut score is 77.29% and it already helped me identify some species I forgot to record near my home! I agree with @lynnharper that it would be useful to be able to move the pin to go in areas where many species are not recorded. It can also help being more precise with the location on the computer.

I totally agree with both remarks.

The tool is loading quickly for me on an iPhone 12 running iOS 16.

I’m impressed with this tool and think it will be very helpful when I’m out and about!

I am echoing others but my suggestion would to increase the search radii or even allow the user to adjust them. In the urban area where I live, the figures are 388 species recorded within 1km and 855 species recorded within 5km, for a score of 45.38%. However, those raw numbers seem low, compared to your examples and knowing that I live next to the rather bio-diverse area that is the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta, so I think the tool’s suggestions could be more robust if at least the “denominator” radius could be extended so that it would increase the number of species suggested.

Again, thank you for the great idea, the impressive work thus far, and your desire to hear feedback.

1 KM only gives me 14% - but that is because the circle is limited to houses.

5 KM takes me into Table Mountain National Park - where I have seen lots of the list.

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@simonrolph This is awesome! I think I found a bug though. The map claims that there are no Rock Pigeon (Columba livia) observations within 1 km of my location. However, if I pull up the map in iNaturalist it shows plenty of Rock Pigeon observations within 1 km of me, however, they are all IDed to subspecies (Columba livia ssp. domestica) rather than species. So it seems your tool is not recognizing subspecies observations within each species. Also, it would be awesome if I could move the pin or manually change the location somehow (perhaps with a lat/long field).


Nice tool! I’ve like playing this “game” on iNat, so it’s nice to see a website for this.

It’s possible that the tool isn’t loading because your computer isn’t allowing the website to use your location. That was the case for me.

yes, I’ve allowed the tool to use my location

I’m also seeing that behavior. The tool says there are no Western Fence Lizards recorded in my immediate area, but there is actually one, it’s just that I identified it as the local subspecies.

I guess a full fix for this issue would require the tool to be aware of taxon relationships, so that subspecies observations in the inner circle are counted as applying to the parent species.


Thank you all for trying it out and thanks for the feedback!

I will look to implement:

  • adjustable radii for the circles
  • ability to select a different location (which will also mean that there can be an option to do it without giving GPS in case this is causing an issue)

The bug pointed about species level is a good spot, thank you. Yes all my api queries were asking for species level observations but I’ll change it to species or subspecies etc.

I think they should be fairly straightforward tweaks to make.

Edit: the taxon issue might need a bit more thinking about. One option is that species and subspecies appear as separate items on the lists. Or alternatively, as suggested, we could generalise subspecies back to species level. Taxonomy eh? :grin:


It’s 52,39% for me, list is full of forest birds that are less likely to be seen here, I don’t spend enough time here in summer, but will try next year, having in mind they’re missing.

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Score from my house. There is one small nature preserve within 1km. In the doughnut there is a large portion of a very large nature preserve.

1294 (+10)

Species recorded within 1km
Should be several more but all the obs from my house and many from the small nature preserve are obscured and ended up outside the 1km circle.

1810 (+18)

Species recorded within 5km

71.49% (-0.16)

Doughnut score

This will probably be much more useful when I visit somewhere else since I’m pretty much aiming to document every species I see within 1km of my house.

That’s an interesting point. Some sort of seasonal filtering would definitely be beneficial to make sure that the suggestions are relevant. Not sure how to do this without demanding too much data from the inat API but I’ll definitely have a think.

Actually one straightforward way to do it would be just to build the species lists from observations the current time of year eg. Plus/minus one month from current date. I might add that as a togglable option and see what that looks like.


This is a fab tool and exactly the information I often want to know when I am out making observations. It is how I expected the “missions” function should work, but doesn’t.


Nice tool.

Would love to set the location by hand actually. I barely observe around my house (not a good idea to go out with a cam in town) but actually do observe in more remote areas where I often do not even have proper signal (so could or also actually would not like to use the tool while there, but beforehand to see what to look out for)

Edit: Haha, but as I often do with these kind of tools, I used it other then intented to fix wrong IDs or casual/wild observations… lots of those species suggested are planted ornamentals