Is there any groups on iNat that with only a few or even no expert (or regionally no) to help?

Cnidarians always need more attention!

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…and this would be why I have exactly 2 mosses and 1 lichen in my posted observations, even though I’ve taken more photos than that. Up until now, if I’ve photographed lichens it’s been beause of their aesthetic value (oooh, look how those colors contrast with that boulder!), and not for a formal observation. I know the photos probably aren’t even IDable to family, let alone species.

High-altitude and tundra plants seem to be another area that doesn’t get a whole lot of love. Even wildflowers, which normally tick the ‘charismatic species’ box, can have a hard time getting IDd. :woman_shrugging:

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Not necessarily groups, but regions and classes of organisms for sure.

I’m currently working in SE Asia and for many observations there simply aren’t people to engage in the IDs.

This is not unique to this region, large swaths of Africa, South and Central America, Central Asia, and the Pacific Islands are in a similar situation

It often takes years to get a confirming, or bettering, ID for observations of anything but the most well known organisms in those areas.

Similarly, for marine organisms there is a pretty small pool of identifiers,and one of the best of these is on an identifying strike due to his objections to some iNat protocols, which reduces the pool even more.

The best way to help is to work on IDs of organisms you’re comfortable with in your region or area of expertise.


In the fungi section I spent most of my time in I’ll say most things that aren’t getting IDed are things that can’t reliably be IDed with macroscopic photos. Lichens for example are always going to be a mess because you can’t do most past genus, so most past that aren’t accurate.

As for what could be IDed but hasn’t been, I would say the Boletales order. There are many boletes with no close lookalikes that people could still be monitoring more than we do. (edit: although many boletes are just gonna stay as “Boletaceae” anyway!)

You have reminded me to mark “as good as it can be” on my Cladonia observations that are sitting at genus level, at least the ones where someone else has agreed with my ID as Cladonia. I don’t want other identifiers to waste their time on them. (Ditto many other genera as well, and not just fungi.)

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I would be happy just to get my flies IDed to genus, but most of them sit at family or higher for years:
Is this because it’s not possible to ID beyond family without dissection or is it because we don’t have many experts helping to ID flies?

It varies from family to family. In Syrphids you’ll often get a species ID, in muscoids you could be stuck at superfamily even. It’s a combination of factors. They are hard, and information is hard to come by and therefore there aren’t many identifiers.

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I’m a botanist, so flies aren’t my thing, but I know fly people. Like @matthewvosper , I think the problem is probably a combination of both – there are a limited number of specialists to do IDs, and probably for most fly groups you need at a minimum multiple shots of the body from different angles (like the syrphids) for ID. For other groups, like flesh flies, I think multiple photos may get you to a family or maybe a genus, but without a dissection, there’s no way to figure out the species.


There’s definitely a couple boletes that I’m personally really confident that I can ID that I’ll go through periodically and confirm and/or correct observations on, but that said, even some super obvious stuff can be really complicated by the amount of look alikes and/or necessary plant associations to determine down to species. Or even the fact that the difference between an American species and European species is impossible to tell visually without genetic testing, so there will just end up with computer vision suggesting the wrong thing and IDs piling up with a different countries species.

Fungi are hard, man.


For sure! There’s currently a ton of chanterelles stuck in genus for that reason since people only recently learned there’s oodles of “golden chanterelles”.
I generally stick to the “red suillus” species when doing bolete IDs, since it seems like the most doable chunk to bite off.

Well, based my recent thread on dandelions, it seems those qualify. Which may be surprising given how ubiquitous they are.

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I think scientific papers are going to have to do some catching for Chanterelles, especially for the eastern US.

TBH the boletes that I have the best luck with are ones I’ve managed to find good flushes of so I can see the inherent variation, or ones that are so distinctive that its impossible to really misidentify. So stuff like Boletus separans covers the former (love it, one of my favorite edibles om nom nom) and then things like Tylopilus alboater, Sutorius eximius, Exsudoporus frostii, et cetera, that are just crazy distinctive. A couple of those aren’t very common observations period, though, I went through Sutorius eximius not too long ago and it had less than a thousand observations.

I’d say I’m generally confident on IDing Baorangia bicolor… if I’m holding it. Online though? I mean just look at Michael Kuo’s mildly unhinged key for red-capped blue staining boletes

(Honestly I just need to buy some KOH and iron salts and get a damn microscope. Not that that would help much, and not that I’m in any position to be considered an expert)

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I just went to a great presentation about NA chanterelles…

My notes since we have folk curious here
(and i have her email if you want the paper, just message me)
And for those not curious skip the rest of this:

33 species in US of Chanterelles

3 subgenera:
Cantharellus (golden)
Parvocantharellus (brown)
Cinnabarinus (red)

C Cibarius: original golden one, european described type species, but it is not found in North America…but then was sequenced from Connecticut under birch and hemlock - it is a species complex likely including enelensis and roseocanus. Color variations (white to bright orange to muted yellow or orange). It may be same as C subalbidus from canada!

Eastern NA Cantharellus:
C. lateritus - smooth chanterelle - gulf species

C. flavolateritius - smoooth chanterelle - mountain region of SE
(not confirmed from AL yet, but TN and GA) - high color variability from orange to yellow, and can have some mild ridges

C. altipes - under beech & birch in Appalachia, stem is longer than cap is wide, color from yellow to tan, brown in center of cap is common, has ridges, can even be pinkish form

C. velutinus - golden and pink forms, SE US, wider base, velvity top look but it is not unique to this one so make sure no smoothness - if some smoothness then flavolateritus.

C. persicinus - southern apalachia - gill folds pink, but cap will be yellow/ochre, and more slender

Cantharellus tenuithrix complex - is in SE, deceptivus, flavus, tenuithrix, phasmatis - not really ID’able, show nothing molecularly, they may be populations, they may be separate species. All look geneticaly like tenuithrix “the shapeshifter” - under hardwood, conifer, mixed wood, gill folds can be white to yellow, nothing really defines it! If you cannot ID the golden, then it’s this.

C. vicinus - “Knoxville chanterelle” - the stockiest (short and fat and big!), grows with oak, gill folds turn dark salmon when dried. Has a wider range though (IN confirmed)

C. cinnabarinus - red and small, IN TN MS confirmed, taste peppery, very well defined gilled folds

C. corallinus - “red chantrelle” in the SE - the one “everything is sequences to”, often has white patches

C. intensissinums - interveining bright orange/yellow

C. minor - tiny tiny little top, no interviening

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Yeah if you could shoot me her details, that would be great. Too many of the relevent papers are locked behind paywalls, it’d be nice to look at a primary source, for once.

I’m curious if her paper is just focused on the southeast or if she has more details for north of the smokies


Also because probably people don’t realise - authors are always happy to share their papers. If it is behind a paywall, just check for an email for the corresponding author, and send them an email. They’ll be able to send it to you free :)


What’s sad is that I KNOW this I just never remember to do this when I encounter a paywalled study

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I figured you probably did, but it not being common knowledge thought I’d let folk know :)

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I agree! Please come back @joe_fish!

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This user is suspended. Here in the Forum.

iNat absolutely needs its identifiers. Needs to work with them to resolve issues.
At least @joe_fish obs and IDs survive on iNat itself.

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