Annotating animals as alive

Fossils?

Is it intended that Alive/Dead applies specifically to the observation date and not the time of photography? This scenario occurs:

If an insect trap is set for a night for a bioblitz, live insects enter it and perish, and the dead insects are photographed and added to a bioblitz project afterward. The observation date is set to the night the trap was set, not the photography date. Thus it would be best to annotate these records with Alive, but another user may see a dead insect in the photo and think it should be marked Dead. If there isn’t agreement on which annotation is correct, then the alive/dead info isn’t useful.

A similar scenario arises when contributing pinned specimen photos with the observation date set to the collection date.

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Yes - that is what I have always assumed, and that is how annotaions seem to be used by the large majority of other regular/active identifiers I encounter.

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The filtering options currently are “Any”, “Alive” or “Dead”. There’s no way, AFAICT, to filter by “not Dead”. As such, adding Alive provides value. Yes, it can be assumed to be the default to some degree, but if I’m very specifically trying to avoid dead animals (say, I want to show a kid cute animals and not traumatize them), I still need them to be tagged Alive :)

Edit: Obviously, adding “Dead” still provides value, so I disagree there’s no point setting only that - it’s just it’d be even better to set both.

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fossils are considered Casual as they are not Recent evidence of an organism.

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It can be done via a url with the without_term_id / without_term_value_id parameters. The Identify Dialog also provides an interface for this (in the “More Filters” section).

If other parts of the iNat interface don’t currently provide the necessary options, I would suggest you make a feature request. There’s a recent forum thread asking for ideas for a revamped Explore/Observations Search Page, so that might be a good place to discuss issues like this.

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This seems like one of those times where iNat’s “an observation records an encounter with an individual organism at a particular time and location” stretches some more traditional biological data collection conventions. Yes, I would use the trap date but I might also add a note in the description about the trapping for other iNat users’ benefit. I’ve run traps and processed specimens from other people’s traps. My encounter with the individual was when I pulled it out of the jar. The trap had it’s own encounter earlier without me but that time and location is what I record for the observation.

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Yes. And it depends on whether or not you know how to tell the sexes apart. With dragonflies, I can tell it’s alive and adult, but not whether it’s male or female. (I can’t identify most dragonflies to species, but I have been annotating photos I can’t identify when I’m looking though observations for ones I can identify. That certainly slows down my identification rate!)

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No they don’t have the value they could, filtering “dead” doesn’t show you how many weren’t annotated with “dead”, while if all observations have annotations the system really works.

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I’d probably say Alive since you didn’t come across a dead one. To me, and I should stress I’m not a researcher, the Dead annotation is valuable for saying you found a dead organism.

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That sounds like an argument for improving the filter options, rather than for requiring that all observations have annotations.

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I figured that the change had to do with some people being upset by seeing images of dead animals.

I volunteer with an organization that advocates for migratory birds, and during migration seasons I and other volunteers collect both dead and injured birds that have collided with buildings. (The live ones get sent to rehab; the dead ones get donated to a museum). A lot of my photos of birds are therefore of dead birds. Likewise, when people find a skull or whatever in the woods, they’ll want to post it to find out what animal it belonged to.

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I still don’t know why new annotation won’t have own graphics, it can show some interesting info on certain groups.

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The problem is that there is no way of differentiating observations of dead animals which haven’t been tagged as dead from alive animals unless the alive tag is used. I know you can filter by “not Dead” but that’s not the same as alive unless every dead animal is annotated (which there is no way of enforcing). If someone wants only alive animals filtering by the alive tag should provide them that.

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Well, yes, of course - but that doesn’t have much practical value at the moment. There are currently 29.7 million observations on iNat, but only about 37500 of those have an Alive annotation - which is less than 0.13%.

It’s great that people are willing to spend their time adding annotations, and as I said before - every single one of them has value. However, I don’t think anyone should feel that they are under any obligation to add them. There are many different ways in which iNat can be legitimately used, and it’s up to each individual to decide how they want to volunteer their time in helping to maintain it. Personally, I think I can add much more value by suggesting identifications than adding annotations, so I choose to spend more time on that. I do still add a lot of annotations, but mostly only those where I can see an immediate practical benefit.

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Submissions of leaves of trees ?
The tree that produced it is alive, the leaf is dead. My assumption is that it would get the alive marker, but open to feedback.

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Plants can’t currently be annotated as dead/alive. If they could be I would annotate as alive if I was certain the tree was alive* as the annotation applies to the whole organism rather than part of it. A feather was given as an example which could be annotated as "impossible to tell’ rather than dead which shows that the annotation should apply to the whole organism.

* Though when creating an observation this it’d be a good idea to include a picture of the tree too if possible.

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Is this the official iNat stance on whether the annotation is meant to apply to the organism as depicted in the observation (it’s dead in the photos) or at the moment of the encounter (it was alive when collected)?

I thought, as @scharf mentioned, that the annotation was for those who didn’t want to see my dead animal observations (specifically, I thought it was in response to some of the issues brought up in the entrails thread). I need to know so I don’t incorrectly annotate other users’ observations.

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I would say when it was encountered, as an observation of a collected species should use the date and location of collection.

One possible use for it would be to add a filter that would not show animals marked as dead, yes, but that hasn’t been implemented (aside from URL hacks on the Explore page or using filters on the Identify page). That won’t ever prevent the user from ever seeing any dead animals, but should reduce the number of dead animals turning up in searches.

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Thanks for the clarification!