Adding a Category: Biodiversity & Ecology Ethics


I have been searching in this forum for a category about ecology & biodiversity ethics. I work in this area, and I am also part of the Citizen Science Association workgroup on ethics. Among other themes, we are working at raising the profile of issues pertaining to wildlife and habitat observation ethics, field ethics, data ethics with focus on the protection of species and habitats at risk -either red-listed (see IUCN red list) or vulnerable to human disturbances in heavily human populated areas and in areas subject to heavy nature/wildlife tourism.

Being in the forefront of these issues is important: Many countries and organizations centered around the observation of wildlife are having the discussions as we speak. It would be good that as a community of Naturalists that we are too, share our knowledge and get active on these issues. A dedicated category, would show our community commitment, raise our own awareness, and inspire our own community to excel and lead by example.

I also think that a curator group focused on these questions and issues would a good idea. Again, many organizations are taking the steps to have ethics as part of their community operation. There’s no reason why our iNat community would not join this worldwide effort.

Thanks, - Claire


Currently, is this not just a subset of the Nature Talk category? I have not surveyed the existing category but I would think looking at it to see how much ecology & biodiversity ethics is already discussed here would be a place to start.


Thanks Bob!

I just checked and no, there is no explicit discussions in that Nature Talk category on biodiversity ethics specifically that I can find (to the exception of a herping etiquette question, which I was involved with).
Ethics appears at times but it’s a more utilitarian and anthropocentric kind of ethics (data ethics, identification ethics, communication etiquette, etc.), and less than often about ecological & biodiversity focused ethics. Once in a while a mention is buried within a post, but nothing really pops out either when key-word searching, or when scanning the list, or digging further. The need for a category would be precisely to avoiding topic dilution, and raising its profile to the community.

I also made the suggestion to the iNaturalist support/staff. We’ll see…

Thanks again! - Claire

Hi Claire,
Why not start and maintain a powerhouse specific topic thread within the Nature Talk category to see the level of interest?


It’s a good idea! Thanks, Bob! Will do: I will migrate this thread there. I surely hope that there will be a level of interest! It’s important stuff that many other communities find important to address :-)

I can make a topic in Nature Talk if you need assistance doing that. At this point, unless @tiwane has a different take, that would be the appropriate place for a discussion about Biodiversity and Ecology Ethics that isn’t specific to the iNaturalist site itself. If the conversation becomes too complex people can always reply as linked topics or new ones can be created if the discussion strays. Your initial topic post can structure the discussion though and guide other users in the way you were hoping to facilitate the discussion. I’m pretty sure adding new topic categories isn’t the plan right now.

Hope that makes sense, @akilee. :)


While there might not be enough ethics conversations to warrant their own section, I don’t see why we can’t create an Ethics tag to help link related conversations and make them easier to find.

In addition to the Herping ethics conversation, other posts that could have an ethics tag include:

I know tags can be added when you make (and edit) topics, but I don’t think they can be added to posts that others make.


Hi Mira,

Thanks, Mira for the reply. Yes, I think that would be a great topic to add: Biodiversity & Ecology Ethics is a good title. Here, I mean ethics in relation to biodiversity citizen science and iNaturalist activities. So, for instance, open vs. closed geotagging of State-specific vulnerable species would be a topic.

FYI, I am on the CSA (Citizen Science Association) Ethics Working group, and I focus on such issues. And where I work, part of our content is focused on wildlife ethics, so I’ll be able to cross-post and feed that topic here on iNaturalist.

Otherwise, I see that you asked @tiwane, so I am asking too :-) What do you think, Tony? Recommendation? Suggestion?

NB: Let me check how easy it is to add a topic!

Cheers, - Claire


Yes, I agree: Having at a minimum a tag would help. Even if we can’t tag another’s post, we can still ask an author to add the tag.

Ah! Of course it’s easy to add a topic (sorry I confused ‘topic’ with something else)! Now, to help the community find ethics-related posts, can we at a minimum add a tag ‘Ethics’. I see now that other people have ethics as an interest, so having a tag could help all of us and at a low cost to evaluate public response/interest.

Thanks @mira_l_b, @tiwane!

Cheers, - Claire