Duplicate County Records

Once there is a species record for a county and month, is there a need to add more records for the same species, county and month for subsequent years?

You mean observations of the same species? Yes.

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It might be that the species, for whatever reason, might not persist in the region anymore. So for science it may be important to track when a species is present in the area and for how long, and one way to do this is to keep making observations.

It’s especially relevant around climate change and changes made to the landscape by human activities.

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It’s really entirely up to you. If you feel that making more observations has value, then please do so. iNaturalist data are used in many ways, and there is no single scientific end for these observations. Recent publications based on iNaturalist data, for example, have included an analysis of shelter types used by frogs, variation in colour and pattern of grass snakes, and analysis of plant species visited by one species of butterfly. I imagine that few of the observers expected their observations to be useful in these ways.

For most species, I personally wouldn’t add more records for species I’ve already recorded in a county and month, unless there is some other motive for doing so (an interaction with another species, an especially informative photo, a bioblitz…), and certainly don’t let it become a burden, but if you enjoy making such observations, please continue!

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County records have been used for many years as a somewhat coarse way to document and map species distributions. For herpetofauna, a new county record is probably worth publishing a note in the journal Herpetological Review. Of course iNat isn’t the only place where records are documented but it does have county records that are not in the published literature. As already mentioned, additional records from a county can provide good info on local distribution, occurrence over time, phenology, activity periods, habitat, etc.

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Counties are fairly coarse geographical areas for understanding species distribution. How about recording at ‘site’ level or even better at 2 metre ‘point’ level to enable site and area managers to understand the species make-up of different ecological/habitat areas within their sites to enhance their management for the site and for the species involved ??

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Yes. The data can show early/late timings for migrants, or species that would not be around during certain months (winter). I think specifically of birds and moths, that I focus on observing.

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Also note that counties vary a lot in size. One county in my state (Catron, NM) is bigger than a few US states.

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Why would your records be linked to a county or whatever? You observe as many specimens as you wish every day, it shouldn’t be a system of 1 per county/state/country.

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On that note, if the map view updates whenever someone views that observation, it may not show the habitat in which the observation was made. A woodland taxon, but the woodland has since been replaced by a strip mall – now it looks like the taxon was observed at a strip mall.

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Are you saying they paved paradise and put up a parking lot?

I have a series of observations on a once vacant lot in my neighborhood that is currently under construction, so I certainly understand the concern.

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Don’t think of iNat as having one narrow purpose. Species presence records by county are just one of a thousand ways iNat is used. Let’s say somebody is interested in whether a particular kind of wasp tends to have more stripes in one county than in another county – to draw any statistically relevant conclusions, they’ll need as many observations as possible from each place. There’s an endless number of different purposes for which people are using iNat. Simple distribution records is one, but there are countless more. In short, more data is never a bad thing!

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Furthermore, inemany countries, the concept of “county records” is completely foreign.

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True. For the US, it can be useful for mapping distributions mainly in eastern states with small similar-sized counties. Less so in the west with big counties.

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Along with duchy records and earldom records :grin: