iNat Activity During COVID19 Pandemic

Figured I’d throw this up here (and so I can link to it from the Reddit AMA). TL;DR, this chart shows number of verifiable observations by date added (not date observed) along with daily Google Analytics sessions (periods in which a website visitor used the site without a 30-minute pause). My main conclusions:

  1. We’ve been seeing a slight uptick in observations
  2. Observation peaks are less concentrated on the weekend, spreading out into the work week
  3. High usage lasts a bit longer into the work week

The fact that observations are exceeding sessions is kind of neat, probably due to increased mobile usage, which isn’t represented in the sessions here.


Neat! It would be interesting to see what was happening on the ID side of things (although I guess “sessions” probably reflect that pretty well).


One of the things keeping me going during the uk lockdown (with both my parents working from home) is knowing that there’ll be interesting stats at the end of it. The other thing is working my way through the uk identifications!


I’ve certainly noticed an increase in identification activity for observations in the more obscure locations (e.g. TX panhandle). People who are made to stay home are indeed putting that time to good use1


Interesting stats. Thanks. My Rx for Covid 19 is:

  • Go out hiking alone, hike all day, appreciate nature, take lots of photos

  • Don’t touch anything that other people may have touched

  • Come home and spend the evening on iNat


The iNat Site Stats page has a “Time to ID” section. Not super insightful, but kinda fun to look at:

Unfortunately, the TTID stat was something that I once thought was worth tracking (makes sense, we want people to get identifications quickly), but it tends to just match the number observations (the more obs, the fewer identifiers can get to, the longer it takes to get an ID). TTID / # of observations added might be a more interesting stat.

I can get stats on the number of identifications, but I doubt it’s shifted much. Like a lot of things on iNat, the bulk of identifications are created by a small minority of people, and COVID probably hasn’t changed their behavior too much. Number of people adding identifications may have shifted, though…


not allowed out. Except for absolutely essential shopping here.


We are scraping down to clearing the backlog from last year’s City Challenge for Cape Town IDs.


As a vague identifier, I’m really hoping that a british spider expert gets stuck in the house.


It’s more ids done but also way more thing uploaded, because of spring, new people, and non-working weeks. e.g. I track “needs id” for Russia, last week pages grew in the morning, then got lower in the evening and at night, getting lower than they were before uprising. For last 5 days we got 50+ new pages, with experts working the same way, kind of frightened what will be in the summer and in the fall.


Here’s an update including identifications:

Here I’m only counting identifications added for others, i.e. not on an observation added by the identifier, but I’m including all identifications, including withdrawn ones, redundant ones, etc. It roughly tracks the number of observations, which is sort of to be expected given our usual increase in activity during northern hemisphere spring. Weekend peaks are not normal relative to early March and 2019, though. Are people spending their Sundays at home identifying?

Here are counts of people adding observations and identifications:

Note that while number of observers is increasing (as usual) and becoming less concentrated on weekends (not usual), number of people actually helping others with identifications is practically a flat line, and while there are more people adding identifications than last year, the growth in identifiers isn’t equivalent to the growth in observers. And yet, those dedicated identifiers keep adding more and more identifications, almost 100,000 of them last Sunday. So

  1. Thank you, identifiers
  2. More identifiers, please

I probably had a role in the uptick ;)
I think my IDs have doubled in the last 2 weeks.


I would love to identify more but I feel so unsure about anything outside of a few specific areas and taxa combinations


Where do you normally focus on?
Do you do the unknown section at all? I’d say I split my time 50/50 between fungi and unknowns. There’s certainly no shortage of fungi IDs to improve, and that’s what I like doing the most, but sometimes I find it’s nice to just sort out the birds, insects, and mammals from the unknowns section.
Occasionally a hexapod throws me for a loop, but as long as one scans their notifications often, those can be withdrawn with minimal stress, haha


As @benkendrick mentioned, the Unknown category from the Identify page is a great place to start as there are usually quite a few observations that can easily put into large categories like ‘flowering plants’, ‘birds’, ‘spiders’, etc.

If there’s an area that interests you, chances are that there’s also a basic guide online that can further help to put things into groups. For example,

Putting observations into general categories can be helpful as it makes it easier for experts to find them; plus, as finer identifications are added it’s possible to learn more about whichever subcategory the flora or fauna falls into. While that won’t mean becoming familiar with every species, it does make it easier to eventually recognize details that make it possible to say, “Hey, that one looks like a skink and this one is likely a katydid/long-horned orthopteran. Oh, and here’s a finch of some sort.”


but it can be fascinating to dump unknown in Plant, then watch the IDs move, step, by step, down the taxonomy.


And then there seems to be other consequences? :)
Screen Shot 2020-04-13 at 3.15.57 PM Screen Shot 2020-04-13 at 3.24.30 PM

Neither symptom is COVID related. We haven’t responded to pings for a long time, even under normal conditions. 504 errors are due to servers getting swamped by spikes in traffic, which is normal for northern hemisphere spring. We’re bringing some more servers online to address that.


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