How do you compile your unobserved 'target' species?

I have a goal to log as many of the British Columbia flora species as possible. I figured the easiest way to do this was to start a project and add the taxa that I still hadn’t found on there. It worked great. It compiled all the observations of those species and I could search by project and check the map view to quickly find hotspot areas with lots of new species for me. Once in a while I could filter the observations of that project to the ones with me as the observer to identify any species that I had since found and could now remove.

Since it worked like a charm, I decided to try to add all of the species in the BC flora to the project taxon list in one go. After about 800, however, it bugged out the project and I stopped being able to add or remove taxa, receiving an ‘undefined’ error when I tried to save updates. It seems like this is a well-documented issue that has been happening for a long time without a fix, e.g., as discussed in this thread:

Has anyone tried something similar and found a workaround? Or a different approach entirely? How do you strategize for finding biodiversity hotspots for turning up lots of new species? This project was working perfectly but I’m not sure there’s an option for efficiently managing large species lists. Alternatively, is there a way to search the map areas for any species NOT already logged by a specific account? Looking for creative ideas here! There must be a way.

You can edit the url to search for observations of species unobserved by a certain user. See for example:

You can then use the typical inat filters to limit your search to different taxonomic groups or geographic areas. I have a similar goal and learning about this from a friend was a game changer.


I had no idea this was a valid field! Thanks so much. Really glad this exists. It’s a much more elegant solution.

As this isn’t something I actually do myself, I can’t offer a more nuanced solution that somebody actually navigating this problem themselves might be able to, but seems like subdivision is perhaps the way forward?

Split the targets into multiple projects of lower taxonomic groups, rather than a single monolithic project. Obviously the downside is that you’d have more maps to manually overlay to narrow down hotspots.

It’s super awesome to see another iNatter from BC who has a similar mindset that I do! I tend to have “wishlist species” I see other folks see but I haven’t. I want to log as many species as I can within the Metro Vancouver area, much smaller area though! Pleasure to see this thread!

I use a different approach for my unobserved target species. I made a list to compile the species that I have been keeping an eye out for and observe in the future! I call it my “iNat Wishlist”! The one minor frustration is that for some reason the list doesn’t update when I do eventually find them, I think at this point I’ve observed around 20-30/50 of these (the most recent is Dog Vomit Slime Mold for those curious!).

Link for anyone whose curious:

In terms of your second question, I use observation maps to help inform new places within the city to help find new places to explore!

as far as i know, the only workaround for updating such a project is to update it directly via the API using a script.

if you want to manage a large list, you can use a list.

to see which of the species you’ve observed from the list, you can just use the list_id parameter when searching for observations (/species). for example:

unobserved_by_user_id works, but it would compare the taxa observed in a particular area vs taxa a user observed anywhere, and it can get squirrely when there are subspecies involved in the comparison.

so if that’s not what you want, you really need to just generate a list of species you observed in an area (using your dynamic life list or using the Explore page or something similar), and then compare that against your reference list.

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Oh that’s splendid, thank you! Didn’t know it was just 17, I still have a lot more observing to do then! I just wished the tally on the side of the list would update though… It still says I’ve observed 0 of them for some reason. Not entirely sure how that works.

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lists are very old parts of the system, and they weren’t very scalable. so the system overseers have turned off many of the features of lists that automatically update them based on observations recorded.

it is possible to export species from your Dynamic Life List and load those to a list in the system, and in that way you would be able to compare your wish list against this other list.

however, i sort of think it’s easier to just export the wish list, export the Dynamic Life List, and then do the comparison outside the system.

it would be possible to write something to compare a Dynamic Life List to a reference list. however, since that’s just one of the many possible workflows for folks trying to compare recorded observations vs a reference list, i haven’t personally tried to automate that kind of workflow.

You can use my tool to get list of unobserved species in a project and/or place, next get they ids and add taxon_ids=1,2,3,4 to explore page.