How to submit a list of observations that have been identified by taxonomic experts

Hi all, I am part of a Government DFO project that has been collecting sediment from grabs in the salish sea close to commercial anchorages. We sent away our samples for identification to a well known company of taxonomic experts. Now I have a long list of species and locations that I would like to submit as a project. However, it seems difficult to do this within the system - do these need to be verified if we show the documents? If there a way to do this easily? We just want to get this information out in the public domain.

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If I’m understanding correctly, it sounds like that data might be better for something like GBIF, since it’s data from an institution/department rather than observations from an individual.


Seconding the GBIF suggestion, although you’re going to need to find some agency with the GBIF software and a server to host your observations.

If you’re going to upload them to iNaturalist, I’d put “Identified by XXX” in the comments


By DFO I assume you mean Fisheries and Oceans Canada, not Dungeon Fighter Online? :grinning:
This does not seem an appropriate use of iNaturalist, which is not a data repository per se, but rather a community science and education platform. Is this data already in OBIS Canada? If so, then it is already publicly accessible via GBIF. If not, it probably should be (check with your DFO data managers).


This does not seem an appropriate use of iNaturalist, which is not a data repository per se, but rather a community science and education platform.

Well, we do have a government-sponsored academic project in Canada using iNaturalist as the primary point of intake, the BC iNaturalist Project. They’re documenting the biodiversity within the Provincial Parks of British Columbia. (See: ) So I think that there can be appropriate institutional uses of iNat, provided that the interaction is mediated through individual observers participating here.

But I do agree with you; this isn’t that kind of use. This data should be arriving in GBIF via another means, given that on iNaturalist the data would need to be posted by the authors of those observations. And there isn’t a means to import identifications, let alone those of experts, notwithstanding those of experts who are already on the platform & contributing.

Sounds like someone was provided erroneous instructions.


I also disagree, as long as they have permission to share the data and have ownership of the photos, there’s nothing in the guidelines disallowing them from posting here.

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It’s an interesting one. Indeed I think there’s nothing in the guidelines to prevent it, I don’t think anyone’s said there is, but is it the best way to present the data? I think the only way to do it would be to create an account for the organisation itself and post them from that account. Definitely as said above each observation should say who it was identified by.

I assume that you sent physical specimens to be identified? Be aware that if the photos you post of the specimens do not show the necessary features no-one will be able to confirm the ID and make them Research Grade. If you don’t have the photos then I would have thought there is little point adding them to iNaturalist anyway.

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Just to clarify, how is your data structured? Your original post sounds like just a list with species names and the locations they were collected, but iNat is structured so that each organism needs its own observation, usually with supporting evidence (e.g., a photo or sound recording). You can still post observations without this evidence and include a note explaining the circumstances of the observation as others have suggested, but in that case I would also recommend you give this other thread a quick read (don’t worry, it’s not too long):


Yes we have both a physical voucher specimen collection and corresponding photo collection.


Thanks for your comments

We are not looking to use INat to host/store the data, we are doing analysis and plan to publish the findings in peer-reviewed literature.
The reason we thought to post to INat is that we think this information would be valuable out there for local communities/organisations to know what is in their area and add to their projects - which seems to be what INat is used by in many cases. In addition there is a great interest in the impacts of commercial anchorages on the seabed in the community. Also, marine inverts from this type of habitat (deeper water soft sediment) are often under-represented so could be a good contribution.

Answers to some of the questions:

  • we sent physical samples for identification
  • photos have been taken of specimens in the voucher collection
  • I can enter them individually, but it will take a time (a LOT of worms…)
  • I could perhaps ask the specific taxonomist if she is willing to put her name on there
  • Yes we are Fisheries and Oceans Canada Scientists

Thanks all


If you have photos to post, I think these could be a useful addition to iNaturalist. (Presumably if you yourself didn’t take the photos, you or the institution you represent holds the copyright for them.) The photos should be uploaded so that each observation is for a single species at a single place at a single time. Provide an identification and put the identifier’s name in a comment or note.

When I first read your request, I thought you wanted to upload data without pictures. iNaturalist really isn’t the best place for lists but GBIF could be.


Does that mean you have photos for only a subset of the total observations (those in the voucher collection)?

Observations without photos are Casual on iNat, and are hidden by default from a number of areas on the site.

good point, yes the species photos represent the best specimen of individual species within the dataset, not the actual specimens found at each location
Perhaps the GBIF is the better way to go then


I think it could be valuable to post some specific and/or representative examples of species as observations on iNat with their specific locations if that is possible. Many of the types of taxa you’re discussing will have very little coverage on iNat.
But as others have noted, having a full, structured database of info for samples isn’t really what iNat is for - it’s geared more towards individual users’ interactions with nature. I definitely agree that the data you are discussing sounds very valuable and would be great to have accessible via an online portal. Some other route to GBIF (where some of the features of the data that might not be apparent in iNat would be more accessible) seems worth pursuing.


Even if GBIF turns out to be the best route, I appreciate you thinking of iNaturalist and how the data could be useful to users working on this platform.


This seems fairly well covered but here are a few thoughts and issues you’d run into:

  • For data purposes, you’d want every observation entered, which is isn’t possible.

  • iNat data is ascensioned into GBIF on a semi-regular basis @tiwane (any idea how often, I need to know too), but only Research Grade observations are loaded. That means someone would have to confirm all the determined specimens you are uploading to make them research grade.

  • The Canadian National Collection may know how to directly upload a database to GBIF, but I am not sure this is possible. I have only ever seen sources directly taken from collections (or iNat, Bugguide).

  • There are other online databases (and you can host your own) to make this data available; it just wouldn’t be easily searchable by people looking. There could be a link to the database on each sighting you upload.

  • If the person who did the identifications has an iNat account or could make one to just confirm the ID’s, that would be very useful. Just put their name and who they are on their profile as a way to verify the identifications.

Hope this helps.


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iNat data goes to GBIF every two weeks or so according to previous statements on the forum.

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We prepare an export for GBIF once a week but have no control as to how often GBIF ingests it. We think it’s once a week.


If you do end up adding just the voucher specimen photo, you could add comments regarding abundance. It’s more complicated if specimens come from a wide geographical area, since the observation can only acknowledge one place. If the data with location information are kept in a separate online resource or searchable database, you could include the link in a comment as well.

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