Make captive/cultivated not automatically "no ID needed"

You’re welcome to tag me on your cultivated plants that have been sitting too long without ID. Depending on what part of the world you are in, I may or may not know what the plant is, but it’s worth a try.


Thanks for the offer, I have a couple I may tag you in. I can usually get to a family or genus, but usually no farther.

I’m sorry for logging in just to be part of a complaint department, but I’m having trouble understanding how it is beneficial for captive plants to not be eligible for research grade observation. Almost every street tree in a parkway in Chicago, where I live, is captive. If I am trying to do a search for a native tree in a neighborhood, I find only plants that are in nature preserves or parks (could also be considered captive, but that’s another topic.) If I want to see observations of an often captive tree, such as hawthorn, and it is not eligible for research grade, I have to puzzle for a long time over what sort of hawthorn it might be, whereas for “wild” hawthorns, there are many people eager to try to identify them accurately, and it is up to the caprice of identifiers to mark trees captive or leave them as wild. This distinction between “wild” and “captive” trees is often irrelevant in a big city.

I am frustrated. Thank you for reading this, if you did. I am happy to accept someone’s explanation of why the captive/cultivated search function should be enough for me. I am also curious if anyone has figured out a workaround.


(housekeeping note that I moved Kathleen’s post to this topic)


since this is a feature request, can there be an option to just check both “wild” and “captive” at the same time? or - they’re automatically both checked and experienced users / researchers can uncheck the captive ones? @bouteloua has this issue not been a problem in your work?

Yeah there’s still no way on the website to filter for captive/cultivated observations that have 2 or more IDs and >2/3 agreement on ID (“Research Grade other than being captive/cultivated” - this feature request), which can be problematic for urban biodiversity and restoration studies in particular.

Not sure if I’m quite understanding here, but if you uncheck the “verifiable” box on the Explore page, you can view all observations (Casual, Needs ID, and Research Grade):

On Identify you toggle on Casual to include the captive ones with Needs ID obs:

There has been a related request to make some of these search queries “sticky”: (but the default on iNat will exclude captive observations since they’re not a main focus for the website).


Thank you for the thorough explanation. This would work for me, if only people wanted to / understood they should be IDing street trees that aren’t wild - this is really all about trees for me and the apparent randomness / bias in which ones are marked as captive; e.g oaks vs other less important trees. For people looking at galls it doesn’t matter if the host tree is wild or not, just that it is correctly identified.


would making a project - to include all ‘Chicago parkway trees’ be useful to you?

It would only be useful if people accurately identified them, which doesn’t always happen if something is marked captive.

The problem is user behavior on a large scale that is guided by the captive button - sure, I could go through thousands of casual observations of trees and shrubs to try to accurately identify them to species, but I would not be very useful to someone doing an urban forestry project, as I am only good at getting a few types of trees right.

Almost all the trees and shrubs in a large city are captive/cultivated. It is only user bias that causes someone to mark an oak in a park that was planted there in 1925 as part of the park’s plan “wild” or “captive.”

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Maybe you could recruit people to join the project and ID the trees therein


We have (at least) 2 tree projects for South Africa

The biggest problem is that “captive” observations are never “needs ID.” “Needs ID” only includes wild observations. Captive observations are simply “casual” whether they have 5 species-level IDs or none. If you’re doing a search for both captive and needs ID, the results you are getting are two different pools: “all captive stuff regardless of ID status” plus “wild stuff needing ID.”

By default the captive search results do include stuff with no photo/date/location, but there are ways to remove those items if you know how.
So the biggest problem is still that captive search results include things already fully identified.


Maybe the best way to do this would not be for captive observations to be classified as needs ID and RG, but to create separate categories for “captive needs ID” and “captive with ID”? With casual grade being reserved for things like observations missing dates or media or the like?

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Yep, that’s the feature request here!

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Any solution that allows captive/cultivated observations that provide evidence to achieve a “needs attention” ==> “received attention” progression works for the purpose of this feature request.

If you have one particular solution in mind, or don’t like another, then do go ahead and advocate for/against it.


Related staff response from another topic:


The default that “needs ID” means “wild and needs ID” works well enough for me. However, while I’m not part of the user group that would use an additional “captive / cultivated and needs ID” category, that user group clearly exists and this seems like a very straightforward and minimally disruptive way of making iNaturalist more usable and productive for them.

So… why is this still languishing in feature requests? :-)


I am aware that some users deliberately avoid marking non-wild observations as such in order to get IDs; many are not reflagged and this degrades the RG database. “Casual” grade is inaccurate where a legitimate researcher may be studying anthropogenic consequences on the wildland; the term is mildly perjorative, implying an un-scientific effort; and it is also a personal judgment not a statement of fact: “Non-Wild” is an accurate term.

Feature request details: Substitute “non-wild” (and “Needs ID”) for “casual” where the only reason for casual grade is non-wild status. Require an affirmative click “wild/Non-wild” in app.

This issue is a trivial programing change. The lack of attention to itover several years has significantly degraded the “wild” listings IMHO and it should be an urgent priority to resettle the nomenclature.


Hmmm…. I don’t t have strong feelings about this, but I’d prefer iNaturalist identify efforts remain focus on wild species. Particularly, as there are so many other ways to photo ID landscaping plants outside of iNaturalist.

One popular app for plant ID by photo is PictureThis, and my friends tell me it is ~very~ good. There are several other such apps in the iOS store. Even the latest iOS Camera app includes an ID component for many, many landscaping plants.

I have not checked, but I would imagine similar utilities are available for desktop and Android. I wonder if Google has a utility that would identify common landscape plants by photo?


Why would casual be renamed to non-wild, casual have many things other than cultivated ones?