Inconsistencies with species counts

I know there are frequent questions on this, and the taxa count is buggy in general, but I have some big inconsistencies that have persisted for a while.

As an example:
According to my species count (which itself is inaccurate), I have 129 Lepidoptera species observed in Panama:

According to the country-wide data, I only have 62 species:

Similarly, the top observer actually has 207 species, not 180:

These statistics are not due to the system not updating - the vast majority of my observations were made months ago, and I have re-applied list rules to my Life List and reloaded from observations several times in the interim.

Do species need to be research-grade to count for country-wide tallies? Do they need to be identified down to species, rather than the standard leaf-count approach of iNaturalist?

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I have different numbers of species shown on the app (Android - 2,365 spp.) and desktop (Chrome - 1,999 spp.). I’ve been noticing this for years, probably since I first started using iNat. It doesn’t particularly bother me but the disparity is weird.

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I always have a bigger number of species of mobile than browser. I was thinking the bigger number is “potential species”, and the lower one must be “backed up IDs” that have had other people’s second opinion on it. Never really properly looked into what the difference is before.

This has to do with how the system counts species in different contexts. On your first one, you’ll notice that your count includes observations that only go to genus - this is what the site calls a “leaf count”, meaning that any taxon without any subordinate taxa will be counted as a species. If you were to set the taxa ranks to species only, you’ll get 61. (Not sure why it’s not 62 – I’ll come back to that in a moment.) When the site is comparing multiple observers, doing leaf counts for everyone would be too computationally intensive, so they only count the actual species. (I haven’t checked this, but I’m guessing that they include species complexes as species – when I did the above check, I excluded complexes. I’m thinking that’s the difference between the 61 I found and the 62 you reported.)

If anyone wants to go deep into the weeds, you can read How iNaturalist Counts Taxa.


Thanks. That was what I was working off of, but I couldn’t remember how to get there.


Thank you, I didn’t realize the leaf-count was only applied to individual observers.

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