Identifying by memory, keys, or other resources

I have a mental collection of taxa that I just know from memory, having learned them by various means.

I have another mental collection of taxa that I recall having seen in a field guide or other resource, but have to look up to remember their names.

The third group is taxa that I don’t know, but I see some trait that indicates a family or order, and I can work from there using resources for that family or order.


I often use the explore function to find out what has been identified in a state or region within the genus where I want to determine the species. And sometime I identify the other way around, I find out about a semi-rare species not in the suggestions, and I go look for examples that were misidentified or still at genus level.


For taxa I am not familiar with (lepidopterans and odonata especially), I often use CV suggestions if they look right to me. If there are no good matches, I’ll leave it to genus or family. When I do this, I’ll mention that I used CV so the identification may be wrong.

I never use CV for fishes, for two reasons. Usually, I don’t need it, but when I do use it, it is often obviously wrong (such as IDing a fish I know is Swallowtail Puller as Jointed Razorfish!). I don’t use CV for birds either, as I have an ID book I prefer to use (I’m still learning birds, and IDing them with a book helps with that more than just clicking the CV).


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