Forecast for Total Observations in 2022

I am amazed by the growth of Inat. The number of observations has roughly doubled every year. What is the forecast for 2022? There were 87m as of Jan1. Will there be 180m by the end of the year? Is there any limit to the growth? In 10 years, will there be 85 billion observations on the site? What will Inaturalist become? In a world full of bad ecological news, I find it deeply pleasurable to think about these things.


As there were 1.8m of verifiable obs done in January (plus some older uploaded), which is one of the lowest months, last year there were about 1m, so is it safe to say it’s gonna be x2 of 2021? I don’t know, but it’s clearly more than 2021 which had 29m obs, I think we should do at least 50m new observations in 2022.
It’s hard to calculate as more obs means less ids, so many people leave the site and growth is not as big as it could be.


I wonder if people’s desire to get out and about as Covid (hopefully) recedes will boost observations.


Interesting. If the deficit of identifiers limits growth, I wonder if there is a way of incentivizing identification. Would encouraging teachers and profs of biology to assign identification tasks to their students help?

I also wonder if the opposite hasn’t been the case sometimes: I.E. people who can’t go to school or work in the office treat Inaturalist as a covid-safe outdoor activity, and a return to in-person everything will be a drag on observations.


There’re a couple topics about that, yes, bringing anyone who knows at least one species and is willing to help can be a huge help, there’re many new observers every day, but number of iders is pretty static, there’re iders needed to id higher tax. groups, to sort out unknowns, etc. It not only limits growth, but also leaves many groups with no observations, as people see they’re not ided, so they don’t observe them anymore.


Only if the students know what they are doing and have their work checked. If not, that could do more harm than good. My professor last year assigned students to do observations, and there were a lot of cultivated plants included (against instructions) and at least one fake potted plant! If they had been asked to ID the obs of others as well, I don’t think the results would have been very pretty. It was a general bio class though. If it were a higher level/specialized class like entomology or botany, I would have more confidence in students being willing and able to make accurate IDs.


Just recently there was a course where non-bio studets were taught id and they helped a lot with unknows. Wrong ids? Sure, but it’s better than nothing that nobody can see, and bio students can easily id a lot of things correctly.


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