Adding observations of species common to the local area

Is it useful to add observations of species that are common to the local area? For example, I’ve been staying out in the Sonoran desert on the fringes of Phoenix, Arizona for the past few months. I’ve observed and added scores of daily observations of what amount to “yard birds”, such as: Curve-billed Thrasher, Gila Woodpecker, Say’s Phoebe, Verdin, Black-throated Sparrow, Brewer’s Sparrow, Ash-throated Flycatcher, White-winged Dove, Eurasian Collared-dove, Gambel’s Quail, Abert’s Towhee, Costa’s Hummingbird, Cactus Wren and Greater Roadrunner. Not certain whether or not such observations are worth while or not, as all these species are very common in the area. Is it the equivalent of posting observations of Rock Dove and House Sparrow in New York city or are these postings worth while to the iNaturalist community?

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Every observation worth, even sparrows and pigeons, as long as you enjoy doing it and having fun making pics and uploading, of course, if you’re able to spend some time looking up for rares species it’d be cool too, but it’s always you who decides what to observe.


it’s definitely useful to include common things. Even if it’s been well reported in a certain geographical area, there could be temporal patterns which observing them reveals (like migrations for animals or phenology for plants).

There’s also my favorite scenario when I post something I thought was common, then somebody who knows more comes along and tells me it’s actually something uncommon I wasn’t familiar with.


I once had the same question for a german beetle-observation-page which is run (and everything IDed) by some coleopterists. Answer was exactly that: they like to get observations of common species as well, as it can show time frames which also allow for comparisons between years and such… talking about climate change or effects of extreme weather events, having such data might be very interesting :-)

And I personally also think that it is very ok to have the observations on iNat also resemble a bit of what is indeed out there… I for example found it very surprising beeing at a snorkeling spot but one the most common fish there was totally underrepresented here… I took quite some pictures to change it a bit.


I think it’s extremely useful as a baseline for long-term studies of, say, the effects of climate change or suburban development or invasion by exotic species. I’ve had occasion a few times to consult floras that were written a century or so ago, and it’s instructive to read that such-and-such a plant that is rare now was common back then.

I try to remember to document the common species wherever I go, because I know that many iNatters don’t. That may not be true of people who concentrate on birds, though.


Another consideration is that multiple observations of a species allow us to examine variation within the species. There’s an example of that somewhere deep in the archives now, where a researcher used iNat photos of Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis), a common, widespread North American dragonfly, to look at a correlation between wing pigmentation and sunlight exposure. That’s only possible with a lot of shots, and that only happens if people keep posting them.


Thanks to all for your input. I will continue to add observations of “common” species both from my home in the Adirondacks and my periodic stays in the Sonoran Desert. I enjoy photography and every year is the start of a new challenge.


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