How to subscribe to a taxon or a place

We get some feature requests asking for a feature that allows you to be notified when there are new observations of certain taxa, I think because people aren’t aware that the current Subscriptions feature allows you to do just that, so here’s a short tutorial for Subscriptions.

Basically, new observations that meet your subscription choices will show up in your dashboard on the website and in your daily update email (depending on your email preferences). You can subscribe to a taxon, to a place, or to a taxon in a place.

You can only start and manage subscriptions via the iNaturalist website.

  1. Make sure you’re logged in to the website and go to, which will take you to your dashboard.

  2. On the right-hand side, you’ll see the Subscriptions section:

  1. If you want to subscribe to a certain taxon without a geographic restriction, select Subscibe to a Taxon. If you want to subscribe to a place, or to a certain taxon with in a place, choose Subscribe to a Place. For this tutorial, let’s say I want to subscribe to all cactus observations in California because I want to see what people are finding, and I want to help identify them.

  2. I’d click on Subscribe to a Place, and see this pop-up:

  1. I’d fill in the fields (note that Taxon is optional for a place subscription, but in this case I’ll be using it.)

  1. I’d then click on Save, to save the subscription.

  2. It now appears under Subscriptions on my dashboard. I can click on the gear icon to edit it or unsubscribe.

When new observations meeting my subscription’s parameters are made, they’ll show up in my Dashboard. Note that the dashboard refreshes about every 15 minutes, so the observations may not appear immediately. If there’s more than one observation in the dashboard update, there’ll be an Identify button that will help you quickly identify them.

Please keep the following in mind:

  • subscriptions are tasks that run in the background and thus do add a burden to iNat’s infrastructure, so please be judicious when making a subscription and don’t subscribe to something like all birds, or all plants, and or to extremely large places like all of a continent or a large country. First, you’ll be overwhelmed by the large number of new observations, and second, those big subscriptions are taxing on iNat.

  • subsciptions only use an observation’s attributes at the time its posted to iNat. So in my example subscription above, if an observation of a cactus was identified at the level of Plantae when it was first posted, it would never show up as part of my cactuses in California subscription, even if the Community ID eventually changes to cactuses.


I only get a specific list of places. Can I only use the places set up by iNat, not, say, my local bushland reserve?

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You can only select places that are already included in iNat. Users can add new places if they wish. You can search forum or iNat docs for instructions on how to do this. It does require a little bit of GIS type work, but not too difficult/time-intensive.