Add interactions to species pages

Hi @cypseloides ! I hope you don’t mind… but I moved your post. there is a thread about this very thing! In terms of adding interactions to observations. There is also discussion here about linking the observations more formally though that does not exist yet. Great thought, that’s why it keeps cropping up!

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Oh great, thanks! I scanned through the other topics, just to see if it’d been suggested before, but I guess I missed it.


All, I think a good first step would be to allow multiple taxa to be identified within a single photo. As iNat operates now, if a bee is observed gathering pollen from a flower, the same photo will have to be uploaded as two different observations, once for the bee and once for the flower. Any interactions that will be added at later date with more sophisticated methods will likely be lost for the bee/flower observation, since there’s no easy way to search for multi-taxa observations. Yes, observers can add tags, but as has been mentioned above, the tags system is a real mess, and there’s no way to add tags when submitting observations from the app. Allowing multiple, independently verifiable taxa per photo would at least be a good first step, and would put in place a framework for later, more complex interaction identifications.


i would like that feature- i imagine it being like tagging people in a facebook picture where you can put multiple people in one photo. You can currently copy an observation and the copy uses the same photo, but there’s no indication of that which i am aware of.

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Might a better solution perhaps be to - instead of allowing multiple taxa to be identified on the same photo - to “explode” the observation to multiple observations with the tagged species being made a cropped image #1 and the entire image #2.
Each observation can then be individually identified.

Of course, you can already do this on iNat by just hitting the duplicate button, but it would be handy to have a cropping or marking tool, for those too lazy to do these edits on their own computers.

@cypseloides - your solution is not a solution. You now have multiple identifications, but no way of recording their interaction or type of interaction. I am afraid you will have to resort to observation fields (not tags!!!), of which there are several workable alternatives - but only if one has alternative observations that can both be independently identified and verified.

But I for one will be asking for interactions to be upgraded from an inadequate set of observation fields to a more robust module that will allow one select one or both partners (at various taxonomic ranks) as well as an interaction, in a “filter box”. Questions such as: What aphids species eat English Oak? or: what daisies are visited as flowers by hummingbirds? or What interactions are recorded between cattle and insects? or even: What interacts with Dewsticks?

The sticking point at this stage is the interaction types. We need a hierarchical dictionary for these, that will satisfy the nitpickers, but still be useful to the casual layman. And which, like the identifications, can be community verified and improved.

I suspect that we will need a working website version, before we can have an App version. Sorry.


i don’t think so. The observer can already do that. The problem is there is not a clear indication that copied observations are linked (though creating one might be one angle to solve this). It’s also neat to see the organisms together. I think an in-website cropping or selected zooming option is another neat feature but off topic for this one.


Selected zooming would be great! Cropping might not be a good idea, because so many photos are already low resolution – cropping would make them even lower. @charlie, I’m not sure if this is what you mean, but maybe have a clickable box around each organism in an observation, which when clicked would bring the part of the photo bound within the box out.

@tonyrebelo, my solution wasn’t intended as a solution, but instead as a stop-gap between now, when there’s no way to link observations at all, and some future point, when interactions can be easily documented. If multiple species could be tagged in a single photo, then it’d be easier to search for those observations, rather than going through 1000, 5000, 50,000 or more observations one by one, searching for interactions.

It would also have the side benefit of reducing the number of duplicate photos, which just take up space with unnecessary redundancy. For example, this observation: is completely redundant with this observation:; if I could have just tagged each fish, then the load on the database for these two observations would have been halved.


It depends how you do it. See the interactions project
e.g. all observations of Dewsticks with interactions:

click on any one: e.g.
and you can immediately see in the observation fields that it has interactions (or links) with
Passive Partner to: (Interaction):;

The idea of an interactions module is to provide a table that links these - in this case something like:
18719545 “associated with” 18719540
18719544 “associated with” 18719540
18719543 “associated with” 18719540
18719543 “eating” 18734954
18719545 “eating” 18720598

These links already exist as observation fields and can just be clicked. But unfortunately at present, cannot be simultaneously displayed and filtered.

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There is already a thread for this: Note that duplicating does not duplicate the photograph: the one instance is shared between observations.


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Yes, I have long wanted ways to properly connect observations, it would be good if it was a more general mechanism than just dedicated to interactions. Eg to connect observations of the same entity over time, or by different observers.

I don’t think it was mentioned above, but there is also a discussion of being able to label elements within the photos at


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Considering the reciprocal linking of observations (e.g. flowers <-> pollinators) a useful thing, I am running into problems when the same plant is visited by different species simultaneously.
See here the plant:
and its pollinators: One, Two, Three, Four, Five

I added Observation Fields for each insect visiting a single Field Eryngo, but not the other way round: I cannot connect my single observation of that plant to all its pollinators via the Observation Fields – Yes, in principle I might use different, redundant Fields all meaning the same thing, but that would be the exact opposite of what I would like to have, that is a reduced amount of (standardized) fields.
In this case, it would be nice to be able to list species, comma separated, in the ‘Interaction->Flower visited by’ Field and provide links via the ‘Associated Observation’ field.

You could make successive observations on the plant, each with a different interaction. Instead of trying to make one observation have 5 associations, the 5 observations would each highlight a different species interaction. You could also link the observations together as an “observation set” and perhaps even put a link to the observation set in the description.

Considering it’s one of the top voted feature requests despite being open for a long time (i.e. a moderate number of people haven’t removed their votes to vote for something else they deemed more important), and because it’s a feature staff themselves have explored, maybe we should move this from Feature Requests to General? (closing first, so people can get their votes back?)


Maybe? I suspect the community’s ability to request features and vote on them far exceeds our ability to actually implement any of them. Maybe it would be better if everyone runs out of votes and only gets to vote more by retracting votes or when work actually gets done. An infinitude of feature requests just makes it harder for us to pick and choose what to work on, and is frankly a pretty big psychological demotivator for me, personally. I would rather consider and debate a few really popular ideas than have been people constantly getting their votes back and make a huge amount of equally popular requests. One of our goals in moving to Discourse was to reduce info overload, and I’m not sure shifting topics around so people get their votes back really helps with that.


I agree, until it is actually on the drawing board and development underway, it is “top of the pile” (so to speak) as far as potential “next please” tasks to work on. The votes help hold it in that position… and it doesn’t mean that is the order of things, just an indication of what the crowd think :)

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It is also a good place to discuss work arounds and interim measures we can take and so forth.

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I agree with both this and what Ken-ichi wrote above, which is why I was disappointed the feature request I had entered (on shared observations) which at the time was the top vote getting request on the site was moved out to a non feature request category. I really do hope the forum admins will allow feature requests to stay as feature requests.

Most people understand some things are bigger and harder to do, but if it is important enough to them are willing to wait.


The staff and moderators will discuss how to treat feature requests generally, so let’s keep this particular one on topic. You could also start a new topic in Forum Feedback.

Last off-topic post, I promise! Made a topic to address this suggestion here:

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Hi! Are there news about the development of this feature? I will really appreciate it…