I would like there to be an easy standard way to mark relationships between species, such as what plant an insect was observed on, or what species it was preying on. (This would also mean being able to flag a photo as illustrating a host species, to allow other people to identify it. Of course it might be hard to get people to actually record such information.) Then there should be an easy way to ask, for example, what are the host species for a certain insect species, or vice versa. At the moment this information is only available to the extent it has been recorded by a collector and put into a database such as scalenet.
There are a lot of projects for leafminers, galls, leaf spots, etc., most of which encourage adding the Host Plant ID observation field. The motivation for adding observations to those projects and using the observation field is that there are identifiers who know how to identify those things given the host species.
I haven’t found any similar projects for aphids, scale insects, mealybugs, etc. yet.
Welcome to the Forum!
What you’re looking for is called an Observation Field. They are user-made fields that allow the addition of metadata such as quantity, associated observations, etc.
They are available primarily on the website, though there are some obtuse ways to add them via the apps.
Many iNat projects do have their own observation fields that can hold info re hosts, etc. i don’t want to take away from project specific fields but i would like to encourage the use of DwC terms (https://dwc.tdwg.org/terms/) instead of making up new fields. This would facilitate reuse of the information.
As an example here is a DwC term that could be used for hosts: https://dwc.tdwg.org/terms/#dwc:associatedTaxa
Before an iNatter creates a new observation field they should search the long list of existing iNat fields (https://www.inaturalist.org/observation_fields) and whenever possible select one of the DwC terms.
The ability of any iNatter to add fields to a project to store/share info is a PLUS, the ability to use existing terms (recognized vocabularies) is a BIG PLUS as the data and information can ‘understood’ and re-used for many purposes.
There is a feature request to surface this information in a more accessible way, which I believe the iNat team are hoping to develop: https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/add-interactions-to-species-pages/433
There is a test version that you can see by adding
test=interactions to any species page, for example: https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/56133-Quercus-robur?test=interactions
The thread linked to has some suggestions for how best to record these interactions using observation fields (e.g. the “Interaction->” fields) and you can add a link to a related observation by using the “Associated observation” field.
The thread you point to has two related topics mixed up: how to improve the recording of interactions, and (one post by you) how to get access to that information. I think both are important but you need the recording first because the current way is not standardized and not easy to use. So I voted for the feature but not really sure if was voting for both of those things on not.
True! Recording the interactions could be made easier - although even as it is, there is already an awful lot of data that people have recorded, which would be nice if it was more accessible (and also if it could be checked for accuracy as there are obvious errors like a tree eating an animal or a flower pollinating a bee).