If you want to add 'Checklist places' to the overlay on Taxa maps

I noticed that some taxons’ maps could use some curation with their checklist overlay so we can see where species have yet (and could be) observed. Here is a short tutorial on how to add those green/yellow polygon bounding areas that show up on the map. In case you want to help promote the search for observations in that area.

The first case would be locating gaps on the map where a species is distributed. This isn’t likely to happen if a species is commonly observed on Inaturalist because once an observation is made, it populates checklists of regions the observation lies in. However, uncommon or less favorable organisms may not have that luxury. Manually updating these checklists should be good if you’re familiar with your local environment or have good references.

Here I found a distribution gap for California Jumping Gall Wasps in Fresno County:

It is possible that there could be no California Jumping Gall wasps, or Gall wasps in that area at all, but there appear to be some observations around that general area. So we should try to make sure that there is some evidence that points to this being the species habitat, or shows the species living there. I found two clues below.

  1. There is an observed distribution of the parasitic wasps’ host trees within the county.

  2. And there is parasitic evidence of gall wasps on these trees from this observation: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/33534851

I wouldn’t be able to say that there are gall wasps in that area without making personal observations or seeing other observations, but I can say that they should be checked for in that county.

So we can try updating the checklist. The first step would be locating that regions boundary map in the places url: https://www.inaturalist.org/places/fresno-county

At the immediate left in the the ‘Species’ tab, we can see the Taxonomic Hierarchy of species in that region’s checklist, as well as how many have been observed at research grade. At the bottom is a link to the region’s Taxa checklist.

When we go to the checklist we can see that the species has not been entered or observed after a search.

Once we add the species, the checklist and anything referencing it will be updated, including the Taxon’s map; given that this is a curated/verified region.

And here we can see that the update was successful, and all we have to do now is find that bug!

This tutorial is a good idea, and welcome to the forum. Since you mention wasps and checklists, you may also be interested in this recent wiki about plans or progress on wasp (or bee) checklists. A few notes:

  • I only add species to Places if they’re confirmed there (there’s also option to mark species as doubtful or inactive, but I haven’t used it).

  • One way to add species to Places is the way you showed. Another is to create checklists for specific taxa (see bottom right hand corner of Place checklist page)/.

  • Places/checklists will be updated/revamped by iNat in the future (there are some current limitations), so I’ve reduced my species additions until learning more about what will change and when.

There’s also atlases, but those are only editable by curators and I’m not sure how they interact with checklists.