Ideas for a revamped Explore/Observations Search Page

The Explore page (, sometimes called “observations search” or “obs search”, was written in code which is older and now out of sync than newer parts of the site such as Identify and observation details. This means that rather than add new functionality to the current implementation, which will have to be redone anyway, iNat’s plan is to rewrite the Explore page from the ground up, and during that rewrite add new/different functionality and design to it.

This topic is for folks to add ideas and suggestions that could be incorporated into the new Explore page, it would be great to get your input. But do keep in mind there’s no guarantee your suggestion will be part of the new Explore page, and I can’t give an estimate as to when this will actually happen.

New/More Filter Options
Change order of species in search results
Why is there no search filter "with annotation" on the Explore page?
Species count bug?
Is there any way to resize the bounding box when doing searches?
Filter location: United States
Toggle to show counties (and other Standard Places) on maps
Explore page shows same observations twice
Search function missing a place ID (Prince George's County, Maryland, USA)
Map resolves "Berkeley, CA, USA" to "Berkely Marina"
Are there any "annotations/projects/tags" for collared/tagged wildlife?
Annotation filters
Can the Explore feature for species have unlimited species?
Add "radius" option to search filters
How to sort observation by taxa?
How to show the native distributions of taxa in observation search?
Accessibility - Icons in Search menu are small, pale and hard to read
Site broken when Google domains are blocked
Different map icon for introduced populations
Filter for the island of Socotra is not possible
Show my own photos in "species list" in new Life List
How to filter a collection project about dragonflies for exuviae, larvae, and tenerals?
Scaling For Widescreen & Ultra-Wide Monitors on Desktop
Place-New York City doesn't work
Implement Photo Blur on observations annotated as "Dead"
Filtering for my species but all observations
How does Places of interest gets filled
Order of taxa when using "Explore"
Does anyone else get bothered by how many observations are marked as "unknown species"?
Viewing species in a project beyond the top 500
Annotating animals as alive
How does Places of interest gets filled
Explore page / Species view / Higher level results not shown, but counted
Ideas for the Observations edit page
Is it possible to see a list of species you've ID'd?
Removing list of recent sightings that overlays map display when using Explore function
How to use iNaturalist's Search URLs - wiki part 1 of 2
How do I exclude my observations from a search?
Inaccurate boundary for Myanmar
Is it possible (yet) to view a list of the higher-level taxa I've observed?
Easy way to find observations that you personally favorited
How to stop observation exports?
Add filter for identifier in Explore tool
Missing users name and their icon with IPad Safari
Add "other animals" icon to filter box
Add "other animals" icon to filter box
New/More Filter Options
Can't sort observers by number of observed species
iNaturalist 2019 Team Retreat Follow-Up
About the Feature Requests category - please read before posting!
Add "Endemic" to search filter options
Add "Endemic" to search filter options
Add "Endemic" to search filter options

The observations page ( The Explore page ( is rather good so do not throw away too much!!
I would like a non-graphical fast grid/ Excel oriented display with no photos and no avatars and no ornament but with quick easy filter options on, for example countries, states or huge regions.

And NO avatars for observations or observers.
And absolute date references in stead of 1month, 1year (or Yesterday.)

A bit like creating subdomains and everything related to german

In this overview there is no absoluut date but just 2 month etc. Can dat be real dates in stead of a period without giving any information if you are looking for detailed information?

The buttons are too much hidden:

Move the buried Identify and Download buttons out of the Filter

Abbitly to move the buttons from the map

Bring the buttons and observations outside the map so they’re not covering it.

If annotations get more used i would also like to add them in the observation search page. A bit like this…with symbols. I must agree that especially the more experienced, more frequent users will benefit from it, but i also think this is faster for the observer to find it information but for the database too. Nearly all information available in one line.


Ability to draw rectangles or polygons to search within, like GBIF:


Bring the buttons and observations outside the map so they’re not covering it.


Ability to sort Species view by taxonomical order so that related species and genera are beside each other - useful for getting an idea of where to investigate deeper when identifying.

Also the ability to sort observations by number of comments - useful for finding discussions about how to identify the taxon.


Pagination instead of infinite scrolling.


I was thinking that the new Explore page should be different from the Identify page and have unique features. Right now, to me, they are pretty similar. The only thing I can think of right now is for the Explore page to, on opening, show random observations. As in, a mixture of both old and new observations. I realize that this might be a little taxing on the servers.


There is much to like in the current Explore page. So the following ideas assume that the new version will have similar functions and layout as the old.

Move the buried Identify and Download buttons out of the Filters and next to to the Map-Grid-List view buttons, as in the collection project pages when Observations is clicked. It’s a more prominent and logical place for it. I know that some iNat users haven’t known they could download data.

Add a 4th view - Seasonality – to complement the Map, Grid, and List views. The Map view does a great job allowing exploration of observations in their geographical distribution, and the new view would do the same for the temporal/phenological distribution. Instead of a 2d map with binned lat-lon grid squares or markers to click on that lead to observations at that location, it would be a 1d time of year view, Jan. 1 on the left to Dec. 31 on the right, with observation markers aligned to observation time scatter-plotted along it. The observation markers would lead to observations at that time of year.The abundance curve similar to the Seasonality plot on a taxon page could be underlaid. This timeline could be zoomed in or out to intervals of 1 year, 3 months, 1 month, 1 week, 1 day. Below this timeline could be other similar ones based on annotations values, like life stage = adult or sex = female. Note well that this time of year view would have different years combined together, not separate views by year.

Allow observation date searches by range of time of year (ignoring the year), in addition to observation date searches where the year is important. Note that ranges wrapping around Dec. 31 - Jan. 1 should be allowed: e.g., Nov. 15 - Feb. 1.

Add a user interface – even if buried into a new section of Filters – for some or all of the more obscure search options that we currently would need to edit a URL to use.

Figure out a way to have the prominent Location and buried Place search fields combined into a single search field and still work well. I know some non-power users who don’t understand the difference between the two fields and some don’t even know there are two.

Add a 2nd version of the Identify button that does almost the same thing but with this difference: Set up the search filters that the Identify tool loads with for someone who wants to look through all the observations returned by the Explore page one at a time without identifying. So both Needs ID and Research Grade would be checked, Reviewed = Any would be selected, and Sort order would be the same as in the Explore page. The Identify tool is the site’s best way to look closely at a series of observations, and the Explore page is a great preview of the series. I often figure out how to search for what I want to look at on the Explore page before wanting to jump to the same observations in Identify to look at them closely. It would be useful to have Identify’s search filters not overridden to exclude reviewed and RG observations for this purpose.

Polish up and integrate the taxon list page like
based on the search filters of the Explore page, so a complete species list with its own download link is available. Add a button for the taxon list page on the Explore page, perhaps near the moved Download button.


I agree!

would also be nice.

and maybe some other map symbology, for instance different icons for cultivated, other casual, needs ID, and research grade might be nice, maybe also a different symbol for obscured observations when zoomed out a bit more…


I would like all the photos on the Explore page, instead of just the first one, so that it isn’t necessary to click in and out to see the rest of them.


I want more options for the ‘species’ tab, so that I can choose to see most observed taxon at any level – e.g., if I want to quickly know how many Carduinae observations there are in Israel, or which Order of plants has the most obs, let me set a filter to change what taxonomic level the ‘species’ tab sorts at.

  1. consolidate the Location / Place filter boxes.
  2. i’d like to be able to save and name queries. i’d like access to my most commonly used saved queries in a dropdown list under the Explore button in the main navigation bar at the top of the page.
  3. i’d like an advanced query editor / query builder that allows me to select from a list of query parameters from the left side of the editor window or pop-up, add parameter value(s) in the right side of the window, and display the results at the bottom of the window.
  4. i’d like to be able to customize some of the columns in the list view.
  5. i’d like to be able to filter by last/trailing x days, months, etc.
  6. in list view, make sure tabbing covers all fields in the proper order. maybe make sure list view will work for folks with visual impairment. maybe allow sounds to be auto-played when record is highlighted.
  7. make sure page layouts will be mobile friendly.

In the FILTER:
. show ranks below species (or at a chosen higher taxon rank) in SPECIES tab
. options for order: add taxonomic, random, comments
. allow exclusion (not_in) of places, people
. allow in or not_in of atlas range map
. allow observation fields and observation field values (and annotations, and not_in)
The current display seems to refresh as one enters a field: which on slow lines can hold up finishing the filters, and must tax the server, especially when clearing the place field in order to type another entry. Rather let it only refresh when the GO or Refresh buttons are used.

In Identifiers tab: show all identifications, as well as IDs for others (the current value) like so:
. . . . . . . . . . . . . For othersV TotalV
1 jeremygilmore 41,697 . . . 54,862
2 alexdreyer . . . 35,215 . . . 36,545
3 rjpretor . . . . . . 34,440 . . 120,443

MAP subtab (Observations):
I dont mind the observations and menus on top of the map: one can easily make the map fullscreen.
But please make sure that the points always load: often the page hangs without adding the observation grid or points.
& Please keep the places_of_interest and redo_search_in_map options: they are invaluable.

LIST subtab (Observations):
can it be possible to see the “Descriptions” - either displayed or with a button to click to see them (as a popup on the List screen or a column).

allow other orders (currently descending frequency, but also taxonomic or alphabetical) - but dont change the grid display please


Perhaps the ability to filter marine species from land? Currently the searchable regions show a bias towards terrestrial boundaries. Maybe something ocean or sea specific.


I think this feature request might address that:


A few smallish improvements that would be nice:

  1. Multi-selection of photo licensing. So I don’t have to look at each license type individually when several would be fine. Not sure if this should be automatic (e.g. CC-BY-NC would include the strictly more permissive CC-BY and CC0 as well) or fully manual.
  2. Some kind of warning or something if you have an iconic taxon selected, and also a taxon selected that isn’t within that iconic taxon. (e.g. I can currently do a search for all butterflies that in the iconic taxon amphibians, and it isn’t always apparent why I am getting zero results).
  3. A quick year selector would be nice (i.e. show me all observations in 2019)
  4. This current selection of checkboxes seems kinda weird - introduced but no option for native, needs id and research grade but no option for casual. A “has comments” checkbox would be realllly nice to have

I second the request for “has comments” filter. While we’re at it, “has annotations”


I second these requests.


Since Location is useful to the USA
I would like a setting to toggle Filter by Place as my default
instead of Location, which I don’t / can’t use for ‘Cape Town’ - all obs become Marine.
That top and centre real estate should be the functional click, not via filters, scroll down, place …
Relieved to see that the Location / Place confusion is not an issue limited to me.

  1. Has comments filter / filter by number of comments - A great way to learn about a taxon is to read the biggest “argument” on an observation

  2. Filter by time of year

  3. Custom filtering functionality similar to, especially the color coding (Should color code the lower level taxon, meaning if your search is family level, color code by genus, and if it is genus level, color code each species, etc.)

  4. Combine place and location boxes

  5. Draw custom polygon to search in on the map

  6. A places tab similar to the species tab that shows how many observations there are in each country/state/county for the select taxons

  7. Fixing the duplication glitch where when you sort by faves you see each obs twice

  8. Easy spreadsheet export

  9. Slideshow through images when you hover over an observation