*Attention* Biodiversity Survey: Please Contribute


My name is Alicia, a masters student at Erasmus University. Please consider contributing to my survey about biodiversity data gaps on iNaturalist, via the link below.

Biodiversity Data Gaps Survey

The purpose of this survey is to explore various socio-economic, socio-cultural, and technological barriers to global biodiversity data collection on the platform, iNaturalist, that contribute to spatial, temporal and taxonomic data gaps. The results of this survey will help identify barriers and limitations to biodiversity data collection. Overcoming these barriers ultimately leads to more accurate biodiversity monitoring, ecosystem service assessments, and enhanced recreation.

Results of the survey will be shared on this forum once complete. Please email me if you have any questions: 628065ad@eur.nl

Thank you in advance for your time and participation!
Alicia D.


Will be interested in your results when you share them.
I am counting ‘other device’ as my camera (not a cellphone)


I, too, count my camera as my other device.


Done! Am also interested in the results, once they are out :-)


Excited to see the results :D


Your first question reads “I use iNaturalist to record observations for one particular species I’m interested in (e.g. birds, turtles etc.).”

It may be better phrased as “I use iNaturalist to record observations for one particular taxa I’m…”


if one, then taxon …

@ademaio you will allow for ‘observer bias’ if you draw your responses from the forum? Very few observers find their way here! (Obsessed and fanatical, us - oh, yes) It would be good to find a way to reach observers at iNat itself.


I don’t observe some species not because they are unattractive but because they are too unlikely to be identified; I don’t have resources to identify them and iNaturalist doesn’t have any idenifiers for the taxon, or the taxon just cannot be identified from basic photos.


Done! And, good luck. Many of these questions seem to be centered around projects, which I found difficult to answer.

While projects can have a specific goal, that encompasses only one purpose for a project. Projects can be created for pretty much any reason and don’t necessarily have a specific goal. As such, although some people do, I suspect contributing to specific projects is not a primary contributor to people submitting to iNaturalist (day-to-day, at least).

Some projects with goals are, for example, Bioblitzes, atlases, and attempts to catalogue biodiversity in a geological area, or “ID parties” such as:

But there are many others that have no specific goal, for example, projects for a that collect observations for a group, or otherwise, such as:

Just thought this might be important to highlight for when you’re looking at your results.


I have wondered about some of the issues these questions seem to address, and would be interested in the result.

Like @natemarchessault, I was puzzled by the emphasis on projects, for the same reasons they outline. I suspect that a large number of iNaturalist users are not aware of projects at all so have no goals related to projects.

@ademaio, I hope you are also aware that the people who belong to the iNaturalist forum are not the whole set of iNaturalist users, or even a random sample of them. They are primarily the high-volume users and likely not representative of the motivations, interests, expertise or work conditions of iNaturalist users in general.


I found @janetwright 's comments appropriate.
I would also like to add that there are at least two ways to use iNat - to take observations, and to identify observations. While I am sure there are other ways, I fall firmly into the latter. I prefer identification rather than observation. As I’ve said before, there are people out there with no observations, but hundreds of thousands of identifications. All of us form part of a whole. An observation labelled unknown is largely useless for biodiversity information unless it is identified.
I don’t belong to many projects, and they are largely General in their focus. I suppose I could look for more, but frankly, I can’t be bothered! I would rather identify.
Just some thoughts to consider when looking at your data.


Did it! I would be intrigued with the results.

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And a PS I see neither obs nor IDs for Alicia. It might be useful to have some of your own practical experience of using iNat.


Tried my best! :)

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I can think of a lot.
For one: taxa that are kept at genus because, although they are probably this, this one specialist wants the whole world to know that, well, it could be this less common look-alike.

Okay, enough with the snark. The bigger gaps in iNaturalist data are simply because some taxa are not very amenable to this platform. I like watching YouTube videos from EV Nautilus – filmed with an underwater remote controlled vehicle. By far the majority of the world’s biodiversity is in the oceans, and yet ocean life on iNaturalist is largely limited to that which can be accessed from shore by nonscientists – so, sport fishes, intertidal life, and the denizens of snorkeling areas. Almost none of us are going to have access to equipment anything like EV Nautilus. If you look at a map of iNat observations, they basically light up the continents and archipelagoes; you won’t find much, if anything, from the high seas.

Another gap is the one noted by @arboretum_amy : some species just can’t be identified on a platform of this kind, and some of us will avoid uploading observations which we believe to be in that category. Just take a look at the old observations still at “State of Matter Life” – many of them are there because people can’t even agree on what kingdom they are in. I doubt we will see many observations of archaea or bacteria, and the ones which are here are unlikely to be identified definitively. Plant pathogens are another area where observations just get stuck – leaf curl and leaf spot have various causes that are difficult to tell apart. My observation of leaf curl on Guazuma has been up for a year and a half and is still State of Matter Life. Fungi tend to get stuck at Order – I have “Polyporales” and “Geastrales” that I doubt will ever be anything else. This discourages me from uploading any more observations in those Orders.


As everyone is adding their 2c, in occupation there’s only “no work, but looking for it” and 'retired", but nothing for “no work and not looking forone/volunteer”, so the only option is “other”.
Plus I agree with others on the note of “no ider - no loosing time on observing that”, it should be a valuable addition as it is one of the main causes of data gaps.


Thanks for the feedback! I chose “species” because I thought “taxa” might cause confusion.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts! Yes I agree, the forum is not ideal, but I had trouble finding an alternate path to reach a large group of citizen scientists. I’ll certainly include the observer bias as a limitation of the study.

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Interesting - thank you for this additional insight! This is an important barrier to data collection.

Thank you for participating and also for the feedback! It will be interesting to find out the proportion of people contributing to projects (stay tuned) albeit for this small sample size.

Also, thank you for pointing out that projects may not have a specific goal. Indeed, this is something to reflect on during the analysis.

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