What are everyone’s favorite resources for learning about and/or identifying organisms?
My personal favorites for identification (other than iNaturalist itself of course) are Florida Plant Atlas and “Guide to the Vascular Plants of Florida 3rd Edition” by Wunderlin and Hansen, but I don’t really know where to start looking for similar resources for organisms that aren’t Florida plants. I’d love to look through everybody’s favorites.
Flora of North America (http://floranorthamerica.org) is my go-to for most plants except for those that I know have a more recent monograph or revision (e.g. Solanum). It’s a true gem that I sincerely hope they complete, and that they continue revising/updating afterward.
Minnesota Wildflowers (https://www.minnesotawildflowers.info/) was very helpful for me when I was first learning what a lot botanical terminology meant, and it continues to be helpful today. The pictures that accompany the species treatments do a really good job of highlighting the pertinent parts of the plant to look at, and they always make a point to mention the difference between other species which are commonly mistaken for the species in question. I live in Nebraska / the Midwest, so there’s a pretty good match between the species in my state and what has a treatment on this site. Though I imagine it’d be less helpful the farther you get from Minnesota.
I love this website for seashells. It’s pretty much an exhaustive list of Florida bivalves and gastropods and almost always compares similar species. Other places may have detailed descriptions but they are usually just dry words. Annotated pictures are so much easier to interpret because speak for themselves. The only downside is you have to know the scientific names (I use iNat for that). But once you find a name of at least a similar species, odds are that the slide for it will compare it to the actual shell you’re looking for.
My most favourite favourite for spiders worldwide is The World spider catalogue
… It requires that you at least have a slight idea on what group (family or even genus) an observation belongs to, but then it helps you out with complete list of species and in which countries you would find those… and what scientific literature you can use to check those species out (if you are logged in, you can get those papers directly from the this page). Love it and use it all of the time!
There are of course a lot of awesome local sources as well that are really helpful and might provide more optical help, but no matter where I am IDing at (I am active worldwide), I will always come back to the wsc
Lots of great responses in this thread:
There was a website on fly identification that I often found myself using to help with family-level identifications but it doesn’t seem to be up anymore, which is a real shame. However, another one from my bookmarks that I might need to start checking more is from two iNat users (@edanko and @zdanko):
Living in South Korea, the resources I use focus on species present here. For example, the Birds Korea Gallery and 소금쟁이의 비밀 (Water Strider Secrets) for quick visual guides. Then there are the online listings from guidebooks when I don’t want to go to the library - or my bookshelf - to access an image, like 한국산 잠자리 목록 (Odonata List of Korea), 한국 밤 곤충 도감 (Night Insects of Korea) and 거미 생태 도감 (Field Guide to Korean Spiders).
I’ve also saved a few links/images from research papers showing species within a group to help with making identifications. An example is this comparison from ‘Taxonomic Review of Bombylius and Bomylella in Korea’ for beeflies.
Wayne’s Word (not world) has a useful reference on “sea beans,” that is, seeds that drift on the ocean. Drift Seeds and Drift Fruits (waynesword.net). That site in turn links to www.seabean.com - Sea-Beans and Drift Seeds.
Hmm, I often use Artfakta, which is the local species ID database, as well as Dyreliv i havet (Animal life in the sea) a book listing the species you can find while scuba diving (with photos, description and all the things you need for ID). I think it is the biggest encyclopaedia of marine animal species in Scandinavian waters so far :D
My favourite resources are in German and mainly for Central Europe, but there is some overlap for the rest of Europe as well. It’s kerbtier for beetles and lepiforum for moths and butterflies.
In kerbtier you can upload photos of beetles and the admin-team will identify them for you in a really short time. They make a database for German beetles, but accept others as well - and speak English.
lepiforum has a large photobase of adults and larvae of mainly European species to look through.
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