Download ranges and checklist places maps

When you click on a species in iNaturalist, there is a beautiful map that shows the species’ distribution as a filled polygon. I would like to be able to download this as a shapefile for GIS research. It would be even better if we could download the range shapefile and the checklist places shapefile separately (example in picture below).

If these suggestions are already possible and I just haven’t figured out how to do it, please let me know! If it is possible to do this on different site I would love to know that as well, GBIF only allows coordinate downloads of specific sitings, not polygon downloads of distributions. The IUCN allows shapefile downloads of species ranges, however iNaturalist is home to more species than the IUCN.

Thank you to everyone who works to maintain and improve this incredible resource!

I don’t know if it is curator only or all, but you should be able to download the range map as a kml by going to the taxa page and adding /range.kml to the url.

For example

You need to remove the species scientific name that typically shows

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Wow! You’re my hero! Do you know what it would be for the checklist places kml? I have tried a few things but none of them have worked so far.

Thank you!

This may be restricted to curators only because they likely want to limit who can edit places, but if you go to any place url and can see an edit option towards the top right, on the page you get to is a download kml option.

So for instance if you can see edit place towards the top right here, and open it you’ll see the option

Ah sorry, I don’t want to download the place kml, I want to download the checklist places for a particular taxa, for example with the northern pike it would look like the map below. I have tried many variations on:

Bur I haven’t found any variations on this that work yet. Do you know if this is possible?

Thanks again!

I don’t believe that is possible, but perhaps someone else knows a way.

for the checklist places, if you just want to see them as a layer on a map (not do more complicated analysis), you should be able to load them as a XYZ layer. for example, if you want to see taxa 55387’s checklist, create an XYZ tile layer that references{z}/{x}/{y}.png. you can see the iNaturalist API documentation to see what other polygon tiles ( and observation tiles ( you can get.

here’s an example where i pulled in a taxon range into a map using XYZ tiles:

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This is what I was trying originally actually, but it always just produces a black screen. Any idea what I might be doing wrong?

you’d have to give me a screenshot of your XYZ layer configuration if you want me to troubleshoot. it might be that the API documentation references {zoom}, which probably needs to be replaced with {z} in most GIS apps.

I’m using arcgis online and using the import from web option to import a tile layer. I think I am putting in the link incorrectly. I am putting in exactly this (below), and have tried substituting various numbers for z, x, and y. It doesn’t result in an error, but no layer is drawn onto the map. Any ideas?{z}/{x}/{y}.png

for ArcGIS Online, use{level}/{col}/{row}.png as the URL (or{level}/{col}/{row}.png).

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@kalani3 I will caution you not to take the range maps as gospel. Some are user done, some are taken from other sources etc.

Just the example species you chose of Northern Pike suggests the range is only effectively in the US. Of course, this species is found in significant areas of Canada , and Europe.

I’m not sure if there is a way to see where a map was sourced from, but that example almost almost certainly came from an American source unconcerned about range ex-US.


Of course not. I am just curious to see what some overlapped (theoretical) species distributions look like for species where the IUCN has country presence/absence but is lacking distribution maps. I am interested in the distribution of this species (and others) in Eastern Europe, which the Northern pike is known to inhabit but isn’t included in the range polygon. Thank you for your concern in terms of the sourcing, but I really just wanted to see (for example) where in Russia these species are present, rather than just that they are present in Russia. I realize that these distributions could easily be over estimating the ranges through misidentification and other assumptions, or (particularly in Russia) underestimating the ranges from lack of iNaturalist uploads. Thank you for all your help!

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Perfect! Thank you so much! Problem solved.


Can I close this discussion?

Well it contains 2 requests, we directed how to do part 1. Part 2 which is the ability to download the list of places on which a taxa appears on the checklist could still be considered an open request

is that a reasonable request though? seems like a list of place ids or names is meaningless without geography, but you wouldn’t want to provide a whole bunch of that, would you? (think, especially if you go down to higher zoom levels, about all the counties that might have to be included in some cases.)

I was not judging the utility of the request, just commenting that it seemed unresolved.

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that’s fair. i wasn’t judging utility either really. what i meant is that it seems like even if the data would be useful, it might not be a straightforward exercise to provide such data.

It might be worth noting that the kml accessed this way is a slightly simplified version of what iNat actually has stored. Probably not a issue for most use cases, but just wanted to clarify.