Deciding whether multiple photos are a single observation?

If I photograph many separate Pine Lily Flowers at a location, I may post those 8 Pine Lily Flower photos under 1 observation. Meanwhile, if I photograph 2 Barred Owls at a location, I will post as 2 separate observations. My deciding factor is how commonly I see the organism at that location, or even generally. Is this how everyone else decides?

If you’re sure that those lilies are separate organisms, you can/should post them separate. You can post them together too, especially if they’re all are close together, but it’s not as good. Plants are hard and I usually check if there’s a distance between them to decide.
Ultimately you’d want to post everything separate.

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I tend to group together if i am in one place and there is multiple of the same thing. eg Geese on a dam. 1 site, 1 obs. New site, new os


Theoretically, one observation = one individual on iNaturalist. I personally prefer to post multiple individuals together, especially for plants, if they’re close together and I’m confident they’re the same species. It feels to me that posting those individuals as separate observations would be a waste of identifiers time. It is never wrong to post separate individuals as separate observations, and sometimes useful, especially if the individuals differ in gender or life stage and you annotate for that.

(Recently, though, I learned that a swarm of fritillary butterflies that I posted as one observation contains three species; I need to split it.)


This is related but perhaps orthogonal to the original question. A single observation may consist of multiple photos depicting multiple species. What should an identifier do in that case? Some identifiers will ID the species in the first photo and ignore the other photos. Other identifiers will ID all species in all photos as a group, say, as flowering plants. Besides asking the observer to split the photos (which may or may not happen), what should an identifier do?



You shouldn’t identify any species before they will be splitted, write a comment, tag an author, saying those should be in separate observtions.


I think identify as to the common taxon ancestor of all present AND leave comment. Set DQA as location inaccurate (at least one of them will be!) and then it drops out of the needs ID pool as well.

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For South Africa, we were asked politely, not to ID, until it has been split.


Same for me. A flock of 5 chickadees: one observation. One chickadee here and another 50 yards away: 2 observations.


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