Find all not seen taxa eligible for project inclusion (The Alexander MacKay Students Nature Project)

For a project that is limited to a set of specific taxa for a particular place, is there any search query possible to find which of those target taxa they (individuals, or the whole project) have not yet seen?

For a concrete example of this, over a century ago, Alexander MacKay, a Nova Scotian scientist, teacher, & school superintendent, had over a thousand kids across the province regularly collect specimens which were identified by the teachers. He then compiled & reported the results yearly in a local university science journal for over two decades. I have joined the iNat project to observe these same 58 taxa in Nova Scotia, which are all species or lower except Family Ranidae (Typical frogs), and Suborder Serpentes (Snakes). How can we tell when we have all of MacKay’s taxa?

See The Alexander MacKay Students Nature Project to read about the project & see the whole list of taxa.

Also, though tangential to my question, I think many of you may be interested to read the linked CBC news article reporting on how researchers are using MacKay’s data today. I had heard of this remarkable man because we have a school and a bridge named after him in Halifax, but had no idea exactly how awesome he was until I read this. That he was paying attention to early talk about climate change that started in the late nineteenth century, that he used his position as superintendent to harness the help of student citizen scientists across the province to collect all of this data to study it, and that he was very aware he was leaving a legacy for researchers today is such an amazing discovery to me. Respect.

Personally I would probably export all the observations and compare in a spreadsheet locally, but for something bookmarkable:

I was able to view the page source and grab the taxon_ids for all those taxa related to your project:

Since that was including all species of Ranidae and Serpentes, I modified the list of taxa slightly to just show those that have been observed by others on iNat in Nova Scotia (which means some frogs/snakes in Nova Scotia may be missing. Not sure.)

Then I retrieved the project ID with is in the project URL: project_id=the-alexander-mackay-students-nature-project-the-phenology-of-nova-scotia

Then I used the Compare tool to compare all observations of these worldwide compared to those included in your project. Ahoy long URL:

That got me these taxa, observed by others on iNat globally, but not by those participating in that project:

  • Sturnella magna (eastern meadowlark)
  • Crataegus coccinea (scarlet hawthorn)
  • Linaria vulgaris (toadflax)
  • Nuphar advena (spatterdock)
  • Prunus cerasus (sour cherry)
  • Prunus domestica (plum)
  • Ribes nigrum (blackcurrent)
  • Viola palmata (early blue violet)

Major caveat as far as use for other projects is that if no one has observed the taxon on iNat, it wouldn’t show up in this list. Browsing through the list of taxa, I think all of those species should have some obs on iNat. As far as the species not observed in the project, some of these are probably taxonomic issues, e.g. Prunus domestica vs. what is normally meant by “plum” in eastern North America: Prunus americana or Prunus nigra


That’s great! Thanks so much. It’s the first time I’ve used the Compare tool. That’s a pretty cool piece of kit.

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