Make captive/cultivated not automatically "no ID needed"

I think he is suggesting having a third category for things that are only casual because they are non-wild - and leave casual for things that have inaccurate locations/flags/no photo etc. So then ‘non-wild’ would stay in Needs ID and ultimately go to research grade, but it could be filtered out (or maybe they would still go to casual when identified?). @rogerpasadena Correct me if I’m wrong. I guess that idea has some merit, but I don’t think it would be a trivial programming change, and it might require places like GBIF to understand the change and modify what they are exporting.

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I think it could be done without making an explicit separate category as such. On another thread I suggested that observations marked non-wild stay in the Needs ID pile until they are identified to the point at which they would become RG and then simply go casual instead of RG.

Perhaps that was what was intended above.


You kinda describe what this request is about (GBIF will have no problem with that as there still will be filters). But I think they meant something else.

My neighbour’s exotic garden plant, will be your local wild plant.
One of the huge advantages of the iNat community reaching across the world - identifiers can set their filters to suit.

We need a few more filters to cover different needs. Which would encourage people to declare up front - this is NOT Wild but please ID?


This is ignoring the fact that many wild organisms use planted/captive organisms for food, habitation and other purposes. If one is compiling a species list of food plants for a caterpillar or flowers visited by a sunbird, one would like identifications for these species, even if planted. And similarly, if planted urban trees are being decimated by a beetle or fungus, once would like statistics on species affected, which is not going to happen if identification of these has to be done outside of iNaturalist, or are deprecated to “casual” (and thus not needing an ID) - their ID is every bit as significant as that of the wild organisms interacting with them.


None of that make them as valuable as wild organisms.
You can find info on what is planted where in cities if you work with organisations that are responsible for plantings, and one who is interested in such hosts will like to contact those orgs anyway.

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IMO, things should at least be confirmed IDed status before they disappear into the captivated status.


I just went through two species where practically every observation tagged as captive was a mis ID. Both were North American species not commonly found in cultivation, so when someone adds a CV ID to that species from Europe/Asia, apparently people just vote them as ‘captive’ without also knocking it back to genus. And my understanding is those incorrect observations can still affect computer vision and seen nearby, right?

In another instance, a single individual had added over 50 observations of a single cultivated plot, one of very few cultivated plots of that species observed on inat in the world. Because a the time there were less than 6 existing wild observations in the county, this was causing the system to automatically flag every observation of that species in the county as captive, even thought there is perhaps only one captive plot in the county. Then no one notices this is happening to stop it because few people check captive. Perhaps to prevent that kind of thing the system could not count multiple captive observations within, say, 100m of each other to obtain the ‘captive in this county’ flag, or check that there is at least one other county in the world where this species would also be flagged as captive.

I think having a ‘captive needs ID’ pool could ameliorate both issues.


A separate category would be better. The current system works well for people who are interested in IDing wild observations. It works poorly for people interested in IDing only captive / cultivated observations, and for people interested in IDing both wild and captive / cultivated observations.

Having the “Needs ID” category include both wild and captive / cultivated observations would change which group of people is best served without reducing the problem. People who want to ID both wild and captive / cultivated observations would be in luck. Those who are interested in only wild observations would be worse off, while those interested in only captive / cultivated observations would find it neither better nor worse.

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The description of captive/cultivated remains

" Was the organism cultivated or captive ? For example, was it in a garden, zoo, aquarium or some other situation in which it was only present because human beings intended it to be there ? All observations of living things are welcome, but we’d like to know when things are not wild / naturalized."

as of April 27, 2022. “Naturalized” is the statement that causes people to flag an observation of Marrubium vulgare in California as casual even though it is growing wild and serving as a nectar source. Or as others have pointed out, Salix lasiolepis in California parks as casual even though it could easily grow there on its own and is serving as host to multitude of native willow specialists including gall formers.

As native plants are used more and more in landscaping and restoration projects this definition may become more of an issue. For example, in our area native plants are being used for erosion control on a massive scale. I believe we have a particularly excellent version of those projects were students from local schools go on bussed field trips to collect native seed under supervision of the Bureau of Land Management, grow the seed in one of 14 school site greenhouses, and then plant the seedlings back out to the eroded areas in December after the ground is wet (hopefully). In some cases where access is possible, the transplanted seedlings get supplemental water from water trucks to help with establishment during the first year in dry winters. Other programs are not quite so careful, using large scale commercial growers that use California natives, but not necessarily from the same region, sometimes southern California seed in Central California 400 km north. In some cases those projects are introducing different subspecies and varieties, and even species that are not normally found there.

If it’s growing wild, it’s wild.
What rules says “when things are not wild or not naturalized”, if Marrubium vulgare in California is growing on its own and wasn’t planted, it’s not cultivated.
Local plants always were used in urban environment, like, 99% of planted birches, maples, oaks here are local species, that doesn’t make them any less cultivated though.

I believe they mean “we’d like to know when things are not naturalized” aka use captive status if something is not naturalized.


As long as a native species planted for habitat restoration or reforestation/afforestation is unable to produce an offspring is not wild itself. In sum, that means that being native does not necessarily mean being wild.

Keeping visible observations of non-wild organisms, at least certain, could be useful as some of them are potentially extremely invasive, especially if grown close to a sensitive habitat. So, as stressed in other occasions, I think that, if possible, the best would be to keep these observations visible and to put some more efforts to make users more aware and responsible to properly manage their observations of non-wild organisms.

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Also plants occurring slightly out of their native range due to being included in native/restoration seed mixes sold in stores. Though in some cases that might just be accelerating a natural range expansion that would/could have happened eventually anyway due to climate change.

I’m new here, but fascinated by the conversation. Building up a native pollinator refuge in a urban/suburban setting has given me a little different perspective.

I don’t begrudge folks not IDing observations marked Captive/Cultivated - honestly, if we’re growing them and intervening, we should know what they are already. Unless we’re getting older and have forgotten them here and there. It’s lovely when folks do, though. I think there’s also a responsibility for folks like me, when submitting those observations, to mark them as cultivated, as there is research and use for this data that is going to be muddied if it’s including stuff that’s being actively cared for.

As a newcomer, I actually really like the current system. It helps differentiate what’s going on, keeps the data separate - but can also offer some really great examples of these native plants that can be hard(er) to find and/or photograph in the wild and serve as some good reference. I’ve found this especially true for plants that are growing in different parts of the season; many of the references (understandably) focus on the big leaves and blooms, so it can be tough trying to identify stuff in early parts of the season especially without good references.

In terms of how it works for folks, the current filters provide tremendous flexibility for users to focus on what they want. I’ve been in the mood to only help ID stuff to help with research grades the last few days; and some of that I’ve limited to just Missouri. But I’ve also spent time focusing on just non-wild plants and helping with some IDs there - it’s just a simple toggle and I’m looking at a whole bunch of different stuff. It’s elegant, flexible, and well developed. Thumbs up here!


I don’t see how it would make much of a difference; there is already a separate filter for ‘captive’ which is ‘No’ by default. I would imagine it would just need to be turned into a three option filter: yes, no, both.


Interesting, I hadn’t paid much attention to that filter on Identify before.

Right now, the default on Identify is not “no” but “both”. You don’t see the captive / cultivated observations by default because of the definition of “Needs ID”, not because of the value of the captive / cultivated filter. If the definition of “Needs ID” were to change to include captive / cultivated observations, you would not be able to query only wild observations.

Explore has a separate wild filter. Adding that to Identify would work. Allowing users to set the default value would be a good idea. Having to set the same filter every time is tedious & annoying…


That may be true, but I think many take it as meaning “non-native” as in cultivated OR naturalized. At least it would explain some of the puzzling “Not wild” ratings I see.

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I don’t really agree with this in general but putting that aside there is a huge problem with the way the system currently works which is probably not obvious if you don’t ID captive observations. There is no way to filter or in any way distinguish between observations that are verified by other users and those that are not. So if I go to identify captive organisms, as I often do, all captive observations will appear. Those that have 1 ID as well as those that have 20 IDs. The same problem occurs if you want to look at where a given species is being cultivated–on the map the observations with 1 ID (frequently incorrect, mainly because iNaturalist makes it very difficult to ID captive observations) show up just as well as those that are very well vetted. This makes the platform fairly useless for certain purposes, even though the information needed is all there.

This is in contrast to the way wild organisms work, where there is a separate category for those observations that have had a level of verification, and those that need further verification. I think that system works very well and there is no good reason not to extend it to captive organisms in some way.


It’s not quite the same, but you can add &identified=false to the URL.
That will exclude casual observations (captive, non-iconic taxa, etc) that other’s have already IDed.
Though that doesn’t address the problem of 1 ID vs 20 IDs, it will address 0 IDs vs 1 or more IDs