Biomes and Climate Regions on iNaturalist

I’ve been thinking… wouldn’t it be wonderful to type into the location search bar “Chaparral Biome” and all observations from regions that have been designated as “Chaparral” would appear? Or perhaps, if I typed in “Cfc Köppen climate classification,” then all regions that are Cfc would appear in the results?

The only thing I can find similar to this are projects like this one or an ECO-ID in the “Place” part of the description:


I can’t find any tutorials on what ECO-ID’s are or how to make them.

The problems I can predict would be:
-With climate change, the Köppen climate classifications of certain regions would change over time
-Within each biome, there might be elevated mountains acting as sky islands with alpine biomes
-There might be disagreement over what kind of biome classification to use

So, is there a way we could create these biome designations? Just look at this beautiful map (posted below). Is there already a way we could search eco-types and biome regions on iNat?

Or a way to create “The Temperate Forest Project” and the “Semi-Arid Deserts of the World” project?

I guess my end goal is I would love to get a little closer to using iNat data to create more accurate food webs. I know, for instance, in Germany I can search on iNat “Black Forest Land Feature” and get results from the Black Forest. But what if I wanted to search “Observations from all regions with Temperate Deciduous Forest in the United States?” If I just searched for “Species in USA” then I would get all sorts of species from all sorts of biomes. If I just searched “Species in Temperate Deciduous Forests” then I would get many similar species with similar adaptations but which would be in different areas of the world. But, if I could filter both a location and a biome feature, that would give me a better idea of what kind of species are most likely relating to each other.

Please share anything you know or any ideas you have on integrating biomes with iNat!

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I’ve been thinking about this from a different perspective for some time too. The thing is, I live in a place where the borders of three countries meet. You can query species occuring in selected regions like countries, regions, districts… which are in iNat database but this is of little practical use beacuse these human borders cross natural biomes (geochores, biochores, whatever you call them).

So it would be nice if iNat also had, as Places, these natural regions. In all three countrries (Czechia, Germany, Poland) there exist systems of biome classification so one might create polygons and enter them into iNat database (I’m talking here about smaller, regionals unit like those defined in German Naturraums). But the issue here is that the systems are not fully cross-border compatible so it would be difficult to draw the polygons if they cover area in two are three countries.

I’m dealing with this by entering as many data into the tags, in national variants, e.g. :czech_republic: Jizerské hory / :poland: Góry Izerskie, or :czech_republic: Lužické hory / :de: Zittauer Gebirge. Or data such as peat bog, limestone … but I can only tag my observations.

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There is an existing feature request for adding ecoregions to iNat (either as map layers or places) which seems similar to what is being discussed here that was declined by staff:
https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/visualize-ecoregions-as-map-background/32081

There are also some links and instructions for ways to do this kind of mapping using free tools on your own.

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This has been requested in the past several times in various iterations, and discussed in exhaustive depth in quite a few posts as well.

The general user consensus is that we would definitely like this, but that from logistical standpoint on the iNat side of things it would impose a massive load on the system and is unlikely to be implemented.

I suppose it’s been a while since this has been discussed and it’s not a bad idea to revisit it again.

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One potential solution to the three-country problem is to use a custom bounding box (in Explore).

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Yes, that’s what I do (to follow the new observationsin my areas of interest), I choose a central location and create a circle around it to cover the entire area. And then use the URL to check all observations and its RSS to follow new observations.

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Yes, though it would be great if in the future, the custom bounding box could include a custom polygon shape, not just square and circle. But the custom box sure has been a helpful addition!

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