How to fix your observation with photos of multiple species: splitting an observation

So you went to a park and took four pictures: a pine cone, a deer, a quail, and some rose hips. You opened your new iNaturalist app, and created one observation using all four photos. Now other users have started reacting to your observation with comments like, “multiple species, please split” or “You need to upload these photos separately because we can only ID one species at a time.” What?

From the iNaturalist help page: An observation records an encounter with an individual organism at a particular time and location. Oh no. This means your four species should actually be four observations. How can you fix that?

Android App

Tap the pencil icon in the upper right corner.

Tap one of the photos.

Delete the photo using the trash can icon. Remove additional photos until only one species is left the observation. Remember, the photos you removed are stored on your device, so you will not completely lose them.

Don’t forget to put something in the “What did you see?” box. Now use the green check mark to save.

if you still want to observe the deer, the quail and the rose hips, you will need to create three more observations from scratch, using the photographs stored in your pictures folder. Note you will have to manually enter the location if you are no longer at the park, or if your original photo set used images taken at multiple locations.

I don’t have access to the iPhone app so I cannot show you screen shots from there. It has two differences: 1) you don’t have to open each photo before deleting it because there is an x already on the corner of the photo 2) the save button is the word Done in the top right corner, not a green check mark at the bottom.

Did you know there’s also ? It has way more features than the app. Check it out.

Click on the small downward arrow next to the blue Edit button. Select Duplicate from the drop down menu.

Uncheck the photos showing extra species.

Don’t forget to add an ID!

Save changes. Now you’ll be able to see the pine cone in its own observation :)

Go back to the original multi-species observation and repeat this process for the other species. Be sure to always do the duplication before removing photos. (If you made a mistake and removed photos before you were ready, you can find the originals on your device and upload them again.)

Once you are done, if you still have the original observation with all the photos on it, go ahead and delete it now:


Notes: of course another way to do this would be to delete the original observation first, and then make the individual observations from scratch by pulling the photos off your device. Using the duplicate feature is handy because it maintains the location each time. If your photo set included images from multiple locations as well, then you’ll need to edit the location on every new observation.


Thanks for the tutorial @arboretum_amy. [EDITED] Below is the updated boilerplate text I use to explain this process to users who are confused (now with a link to this tutorial as well).

Your observation includes photos of multiple species. Can you delete the additional photos and add them as separate observations? If you do that, they’ll likely all get IDed.

A quick way to fix this observation is to use the duplicate feature. In the upper right corner of the observation page, click the downward arrow next to “Edit” and choose “Duplicate.” Then identify the duplicate observation as the organism in your second picture and uncheck the checkboxes next to the other pictures. You can repeat this process to create new duplicate observations for picture #3, #4, etc.

Lastly, come back to the first observation, click “Edit,” and delete the extra picture.

iNat has tutorials about fixing this issue: Step-by-step | Video Tutorial. Thank you!


Nice addition to the tutorials, thank you @arboretum_amy!


Oh yes the duplication tutorial on Your link to it didn’t open for me. I watched that one yesterday, but I didn’t like it because it assumes you’re duplicating a single photo observation in order to change the subject organism.

Your explanation is thorough. You might want to throw in a phrase such as “on the website.” I believe most of the multi-species observations are created by app, and many app users actually have no idea there is a website.

The way the website uploader is set up, it is more conducive to the opposite problem.


fyi I’ve already been pasting this url into comments but just noticed “Multiple” is misspelled in the title, is it possible to update it?




Hahah thanks @jwidness and @lotteryd. I proofed the body of the text like 3 times and not the title.


I fixed the link to the video tutorial (I had used a relative link on iNat, but that doesn’t work in the forum). I agree with both your points about web vs. app and I’ll try to take them into account.


This is nice and succinct. Perhaps it should be tagged for the education category as well as tutorial?


This is great thanks.
Might it be possible to add a few tweaks?

  1. Just a rider that if you did take two (or more) photos of one species (at one place), then dont split them, keep them as one observation.

Remove additional photos until only one photo is left on the observation.
perhaps: Remove additional photos until only photos of one species is left on the observation.

  1. Perhaps explain that with the app your iNaturalist photos are also stored in your picture folder and you can get them from there - so removing them from the observations on the app does not lose your photos.

So between “scratch. Note”
add “scratch. Your original photographs are stored in your pictures folder. Note”

  1. On the web site, it is important that you do the duplication before you untick (remove) the photographs on your original observation. Once unticked on the original, the only way to access the photographs is to upload them again.
    (it wont take long for people to realize that instead of duplicating four times and deleting the original, they can duplicate three times and use the original for one of the species, and then they will accidentally remove the photographs before doing all the duplicates, and not be able to duplicate the last few species.)

  2. Is there any harm in adding at the end of the tut?
    The duplication tool is really cool if you have multiple species on a single photograph (or a set of photographs). Thus a spider with a bee on a flower, you can use the one observation (e.g of the spider) and duplicate it twice: for the flower and the bee: remember to clearly identify which is which.
    Note that duplication copies over any Observation Fields, but not Description notes and not projects: you will have to add these manually if they are relevant.


This is probably not the place, but the big issue with adding photographs onto the app from the pictures folder is that the Location Accuracy is not filled in, and even experienced iNatters do not understand the significance of Location Accuracy for research use of observations.
The apps manage this perfectly for photographs taken with the app, but abysmally if you add the photographs to the app. (and if I remember correctly, they do not even extract the locality from the photographs, but use the location of where you are when you are using the app).
I suspect though that Location Accuracy deserves a tutorial on its own.


This was not always the case. The iOS app, at least, used to import location accuracy from photos added, but no longer does so. This was reported as a bug. I no longer use the app for this reason. I upload photos via the web interface to preserve the location accuracy.

I don’t think that is the case. I believe the app does use the location of the photo, just without the location accuracy (at least, that’s how it worked when I last used it some months ago).


I can make a few adjustments to cover your first few objectives. Regarding the last one:

That’s a tangent off the focus of my topic, and additionally I feel it is adequately covered by the existing tutorial video linked earlier in this thread.


I’ve translated this tutorial in Spanish, this way when finding observations with multiple species from Hispanic speaking countries IDers can comment the link for the observers to fix it. Also I added my own pic for iOS and Website as is more understandable this way (don’t have Android so I leave the ones here).

I asked here before if there are any problems, but the post didn’t get much attention.


¡Muy bien!


Having a translation is really great, thanks roysh! :)

I’d also welcome one in a Chinese language to be able to link to, if anyone fluent were thinking about it.

Update: Here is one in Portuguese thanks to @douglas-u-oliveira !


Thanks @arboretum_amy for posting the clear and thorough Tutorial!