Captured/cultivated vs. naturalized/invasive

I have had several observations treated as cultivated/captive when I did not indicate that they were. I have never submitted an observation of an organism that I suspected was cultivated or captive without so indicating. There are of course nonnative species that grow in the wild and I believe it is a very important function of iNaturalist to document where and when they occur. Instead of just assuming that an observation is of a captive/cultivated organism, a reviewer should write a note to the observer asking whether he/she believes it is, and why.

What is likely happening is the system automatically marks observations as captive/cultivated if at least I believe it is 80 percent of records of that taxon in nearby areas are also flagged as such.

If you disagree, you can vote to offset it in the data quality, but this should be done in awareness of the site definition of cultivated individuals.


iNaturalist should not allow captive/cultivated observations at all. They are confusing and a waste of time for “naturalists” of any kind.

I can offer my perspective of why I mark observations as captive/cultivated without a note or explanation:

  1. Uncomfortable past experience of observer defensiveness who have posted captive species from zoos and botanical gardens. Rather than engage, I just vote what I believe is the correct assessment based on the available evidence. If I’m wrong, or the person really feels strongly about it, they can also vote and equalize my vote.

  2. There’s a lot of observations of captive species, pets and garden flowers etc. Sometimes it’s just a time issue. Again, if I’m wrong, the observer has a way to counter it.

I disagree. Captive/cultivated species have an effect on the natural world. They can attract pollinators, they can be a predator, herbivore, seed disperser, etc etc. Records of captive/cultivated species can have value – depends on the interest of the naturalist or the person asking questions of a dataset.


Not everybody is a field biologist.
Many iNatters live in cities and a lot of the nature they see is ‘not wild’. Their obs are still a valid part of iNat.


In many urban areas cultivated plants have more affect on the local ecosystem than the wild ones.


@randytoad May we see these observations?

I found one of yours for a daylily. It has just one Not wild vote, which you can counter yourself.

iNaturalist should not allow captive/cultivated observations at all. They are confusing and a waste of time for “naturalists” of any kind.

Perhaps you’re joking.

I’d counter that any urban naturalist that ignores captive and cultivated things is wasting their time and getting confused. You can’t understand urban nature without understand how the wild and captive/cultivated interact. It’s essential that iNat does both.


@randytoad This is an important point and has been the topic of at least one feature request and long discussion somewhere else in the forum.

The issue is that iNat by default assumes an observation is wild or cultivated, and most users don’t change that one way or the other.

iNat used to just assume everything was wild, but that meant that a lot of iNat observations of captive/cultivated things show as wild. Now it’s starting with the assumption that some observations are probably captive/cultivated. In both cases, it’s better for you to manually say which you think it is using the “captive/cultivated” switch on the app or the “Data Quality Assessment” section on the website. It’s still not the most elegant solution (hence the feature request).


iNaturalist didn’t want captive/cultivated observations at first, maybe doesn’t want them now, but the reality is that people post them, so they have to be dealt with. Therefore the captive/cultivated tag was developed.

I did.

1 Like

My most recent observation that was downgraded was of a day lily that I found growing among wild plants in an area fairly far from human habitation. Furthermore when I looked at other observations of the same species, there were dozens of RG identifications within a few miles of mine.

I’m fine with cultivated stuff. What bothers me and I disagree with is zoo animals or other animals in captivity. Useless stuff and has no place here, especially when one has notifications set up for a rare species and gets a bunch of zoo crap notifications.

If you click on the icon next to the vote setting it as cultivated it will tell you if it was done automatically by the system or a human user.

On that particular record assuming I found the correct one, it was a human.

This topic was automatically closed 60 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.