Map animation of observations over time

I’d like to be able to select one or more taxa (up to everything, although it would be a blob) in any sized geographic area and select a time period and animate, showing the progression of the obs as they were made over time on a map. This feature is part of the year-end stats from 2018, just not subsettable by space, taxon or time (other than 2018).

What provoked this in particular was the report that there is apparently a magnificent painted lady migration occurring over southern California, and while I can see the obs on the map, I have to do the time progression manually (unless there’s a feature I’m not aware of???!).

I could see it being useful for tracking flowering over geography & elevation, migrations of other sorts, the advance of invasives (on a larger scale), and even the public health issue of the spread of iNatting addiction over time into new geographies :-)

Seems to me, under the premise that the less you know about something the easier it is, that it should be a simple matter of tying the year-end stat animation to the filter screen associated with Explore. Et voilà!

You could try using Carto. It’s pretty easy (and free). You can import the CSV of observations which you can export from a filtered iNat search. I made this one of plant observations in Illinois over time using Carto (then made it into a gif in Photoshop):



Cool! Is there a way to turn off observations after, say, a second?

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Yes, in Carto when you do a time lapse like this you can either have them build on each other or have them come in & then fade away.


Thanks! I’m going to check it out :-)

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it’s not exactly what you are asking for but you can also do this in the year in review stats, for yourself.
(obviously you would add your own user name)
it would be neat to be able to do by taxa!

Yes, I was going to recommend Carto as well. I’ve used it for some iNat videos as well, like

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@charlie yes, I found the 2018 stats - they are way cool :-) When I saw an article about the painted lady migration in California, I thought it would be neat to be able to see how the migration was flowing by using iNat obs, and that the 2018 stats tool would be useful, and then remembered that there was no way to set a taxon, or a time, or a place. Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, the play was lovely lol. I really like the way the observations show up and then fade, but I would want more granularity.


That’s obs of all Vanessa species in CA this year so far on a weekly interval. It should support most of the usual observation URL params, as well as interval (monthly (default) or weekly). If you hover your mouse over the date or hit the spacebar you can step forward and backward in time with the arrow keys. This should be considered experimental and it was mainly made for internal testing, so if you make a URL that renders tons and tons of points and it goes viral, we might have to remove it to survive the traffic / load on our servers, so use it with care. It also does most of the point rendering in your browser, so on some setups it might just lock up the browser. Again, not intended for general use.

There’s also the compare tool, which has all the same caveats but could be used to visualize a pattern like this.


@kueda that is just too amazing! Thanks so much for doing! I will try not to bring the Internet down lol.

@kueda So silly question #47. Where do I find the taxon ID #s that you used to filter on Vanessa? I occasionally stumble across #s for individual species, but can’t figure out how to reference higher level groupings. I’d like to try the cool new tool with various angiosperm genera and maybe higher in the Anza Borrego region.

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Search for any taxon, and you’ll get an URL similar to this:

The number in there is the taxon ID, in this case 871360.

@schoenitz Ummm… (feeling like a real idiot) This is what I get when I follow your link. Just in case I was being blind, I searched the page for 871 but the browser didn’t see it…

It’s not listed anywhere on the page (maybe it should be?). It’s just in the link/URL itself.

Aaashhhhh!!! Many thanks - never occurred to me to look there lol

It looks like it would be a good program for animating map views. Definitely not free, though.

Weird, I’ve never paid for it. Maybe I have a legacy or student account?

if you need free, you might try QGIS. it’s not as easy to use as something like Carto, but i think it would get you what you’re trying to do. i’ve never attempted a time series animation in QGIS myself, but it looks like it should be possible. here’s a 2014 video that shows someone making an animation:

and don’t forget to check out the link in kueda’s post above.


@KitKestrel do the responses above meet your request / do you think this feature request should be closed?

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Yes, I think I can figure this one out. Thanks to all for your help.

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