Filtering searches by geographic features (mountains, riparian, etc)?

Is there a way to use a location filter to search for observations in a specific geographic feature (either by name or otherwise)?

By name, for example, could you search desert observations by filtering all places with “[wildcard] desert” in the name?

Or better yet, to exclude the change of including street names or other outliers, if you could search on the feature itself (like only coastlines)?

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i don’t think there’s an easy way to do what you’re suggesting. if you provide a more specific description / example / case of exactly what you’re trying to do, you might get more helpful responses.

Best work-around: by modifying the search URL manually you can do a combined search on a comma-separated list of place IDs. You would just have to look up the IDs of all the desert-related places of interest first.

Not quite sure what you are describing here. But in general, for a coastline, you would need to create your own place to delimit the area of interest, assuming such a place did not already exist.

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What I mean is if it were possible to somehow input a geographic featue into iNat search (e.g. tick a box for “riparian”, and it only searches along rivers) and have it recognize that feature. I don’t think those are already designated on the map though, and adding them would probably require a Herculean effort for either staff or users. :disappointed:

Example: Let’s say I want to look for “Tilly Bones” (fish bones with hyperostosis) by searching iNaturalist. These usually show up in iNaturalist as observations found on beaches with an ID of “Unknown”(no ID), “Life” or “Vertebrates”. If I want to search for them, my best bet is to looks for things needing IDs along coastlines. I don’t think every coastline worldwide has a KML and creating ALL OF THEM them from scratch (for islands as well as main continents) would be an undertaking beyond my current scope.

To be fair, it’s probably too much to ask of anybody.

Sorry, everybody.

Yeah, “teaching” iNaturalist where all of the riparian habitats of the world are would be pretty monumental, unless such a data set already exists somewhere, and could somehow be integrated into the iNat infrastructure.

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this could probably be done, but it would be very significant effort, which may not be worth the benefit.

step 1: creating the right geography. depending on what you’re trying to achieve, data from Marine Regions (, EPA (, USGS (, etc. might help you get started, but the sources i listed may not cover the whole world. defining the mountains, deserts, or coastal shores of the world probably wouldn’t be too bad, but doing a riparian set would be much more challenging.

step 2: i doubt you could realisitically load that kind of geography into iNaturalist (or convince the staff to do so, even in multiple pieces). so you’d probably have to build something on your own that would put a mask based on your polygon over the results returned from the iNaturalist UTFGrid API endpoint ( each point returned from the UTFGrid will only return one observation in that spot. so you’d have to take an extra step to bring back all the observations in the area covered by that point. it’s possible to do, but you have to know how to code.

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