How to find out-of-range observations - wiki

One way to help out on iNaturalist is to look for out of range observations. These are often misidentified or captive/cultivated, but sometimes they’re interesting range extensions.

Some ways to find out of range observations:

  • Check the list of atlases with out of range observations.
  • For taxa that have range maps, look for observations that fall outside the boundaries. Range maps can be found on each taxon page.
  • Use the compare tool.
  • Use observation search, for example, if you know a taxon is only found in Mexico, run a search including &not_in_place=6793 and see if you get any results. You can also run a narrow taxonomic search in a region and see if taxa that shouldn’t be there come up.

What should you do if you find an out of range observation?

  • If you know it’s misidentified, add a disagreeing ID. You can also @ mention the top identifiers for that taxon/region if you need some help figuring out whether it’s misidentified.
  • Mark it “not wild” if the organism is captive or cultivated (planted by people). Ask the observer if it is unclear.
  • If you can confirm the location is incorrect (e.g. you recognize the geology/habitat doesn’t match the location), mark location not accurate. You can also ask the observer to confirm the location information. Keep in mind that some observations that appear out of range just have very large uncertainty circles that do encompass part of the known range (imprecise rather than inaccurate). You can also ask the observer to refine the location if possible.
  • If everything checks out and it appears to be a true range extension, add it to the atlas for that taxon. Curators can edit atlases by navigating to the taxon page, then selecting Curation>Edit atlas. A guide to atlases is here.
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