Habitat shots acceptable with audio observations?

I guess this is the converse of https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/what-do-you-think-about-habitat-sound/20547

I have added habitat shots to audio records for context in the past, however I’ve seen recent advice of an identifier to observer(s) that this is not acceptable. I was not able to dig out any guidance either way in the help page nor in the forum.

I would like to start recording more audio records in the future, such as of katydids where I could show the tree(s) they are singing from, although I would not be able to show the insects themselves. Any advice about proper procedure?


Interesting question.

One question is would the AI potentially use those photos? If so, that could be a problem, albeit one that could be solved by excluding records with sound from AI training (which isn’t a bad idea anyways).


Each item of evidence should depict/include evidence of the organism in question, so habitat-only photos shouldn’t be attached to the observation.


If one day we can annotate single photos (flower / fruit) then we could do habitat.
For now, it is confusing if you pull up taxon photos.


To be clear, you are saying my proposed visual supplements to the primary audio file are not acceptable?

So if help guidance were written on this topic it would be like,

“If your observation is in audio format, do not include any photos that do not clearly show the organism making the sound, unless they are spectrograms of the sounds.”

True statement?


Maybe you could embed a habitat image in the notes box, using the < img > tag. Of course you would first have to upload the image to a website (possibly Google Drive or Flickr…) Personally, I really appreciate habitat shots and/or written context especially also for sound observations.


Hm, that sounds rather unworkable for the typical record…

Would have to try out the work flow, but it could be quite easy.

But, it would require an external site, which doesn’t seem like the best standard operating procedure.

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Sure not for standard observations, but possibly for those special encounters where habitat mattered. Just a thought.

So this question isn’t intended to be pedantic (though maybe it is!), but in the original example, a tree with a katydid in it (for which the audio file was being taken) was being discussed.

In this example, the tree does indeed contain the katydid making the audio (the katydid just isn’t visible in the pic). Would this still be disallowed?

I do see a reasonable amount of photos on iNat that don’t seem to include the focal organism (moving quickly, got away, observer just uploaded a series without checking closely). Should we be encouraging posters to delete those?

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kueda doesn’t even want your spectrograms:

(They also confuse the CV)


You could upload the tree as a separate observation, and then link to it in the description. Naturally that only works for habitats with organisms visible (i.e. not something like a bare talus slope).


Right - the tree doesn’t depict the observation’s subject, so it shouldn’t be directly attached to the observation. Same with any other images without the focus of the observation.


Hmmm… That leaves me in a tough spot. I don’t have a computer that works with Inat.

So I use either an iPhone or an iPad to interact with Inaturalist.

It is very problematic to upload an observations on the website from my iOS devices; in fact it fails most of the time by screen freezing so I cannot save.

But, using the iOS app, I can upload a habitat picture for my audio ob. Only, I cannot upload an audio file on the iOS app; that feature does not exist.

The only way I can upload an audio observation is the first create a ob using the iPhone app with a picture. Next, I can go to the website to add the audio file.

That is the only workflow that works for uploading audio observations in my situation.

How would you do it?

Update: now I see there is a No Photo option in iOS, so I can do that, I guess. I had thought iNatters hated No Photo observations.

It’s still a pain in the patootie to have to use iOS to make the record first so I can upload an audio file, tho .

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No need to add a photo to the observation. You can create the observation with no media attached (grey notepad icon - “No Photo”), then use the website to add in the audio file.

Edit to add:

I have hundreds of observations without media evidence myself. : )

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They don’t need to be deleted but, in my opinion, should be marked in the DQA as not having evidence of the organism (which bumps them to Casual).

Jinx ! :woozy_face:

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But if there’s an audio recording in the observation as well, then there is evidence of the organism and it definitely shouldn’t be marked Casual. There’s no way to make only part of an obs Casual.


Great point - I was responding to that specific case above.

I think in the OP situation, just explaining the policy in a comment and asking the poster to remove the photo is the best course.

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