Mexico - iNaturalist World Tour

Today we’re featuring Mexico. I’m curious about two issues:

We were asked by CONABIO not to use the 2.3 GADM level 2 (district) data we’re using elsewhere and instead use the official Mexican INEGI data for iNaturalist Standard Places. Unfortunately, this INEGI data has lots of problems with islands located in the wrong spot etc.

This is what the current GADM v3.6 release looks like for Level 1 (states) and Level 2 (districts). Are either/both of these still not what’s preferred? If so, how extensive is the issue so we can contact GADM and describe the problem(s).

Common Names:
Here’s a snapshot from 6-24-2019 of all the common names associated with observations of things in Mexico. If you’re using or in your account settings your locale is set to “Spanish” and your “name place” is set to Mexico you’ll see the es-MX name if it exists, otherwise you’ll see the es name. Are there any common names issues in Mexico with regards to other Spanish speaking place names that can’t be resolved via curation using the existing functionality?

Let me rephrase the place question: in the US, both states and counties are widely known by the public (I’m writing this from Minnehaha county in South Dakota). In Mexico, I know states (Sonora, Sinaloa etc) are widely known and used by the public, but are districts? Do most Mexican iNat users know what district they’re in? And if so what’s more correct GADM or INEGI?

Regarding Places:
I think most mexicans over 18 know which district they live. Specially in urban areas. On the other side, I don’t know how much of a proportion of the principal observers, record observations when traveling inside Mexico. My guess is that is an important proportion since a big motivations is to record lifers. In this case, when we record outside our district, most of the time we are ignorant of the name of the district where the observations were made.
The link to INEGI seems to be broken.
Regarding the Level 2 GADM link I can spot one mistake: the Revillagigedo islands (the ones south of the Baja California Peninsula around the same latitude of Mexico city) belong to the Colima state, not the Baja California Sur state

Regarding common names: can you explain further the question? maybe with an example? Thank you

thanks for looking into this @langlands - here’s a link that works: (click on ‘shp’ to download)
The INEGI data are quite different from the GADM data:

re: common names, I’m mainly asking whether anyone has noticed any issues with Mexican common names that curators aren’t able to sort out with the existing tools. If there aren’t thats great news. But just checking.

Hello, about the places, in Mexico, yes, States (estados: Nuevo león, Sonora, etc) are widely used, after that it comes down to municipios: Monterrey, Nuevo León, Hermosillo, Sonora, Torreon, Coahuila), as far as I can tell, we do not have districts, the official arrangement is Country, State, and Municipio, below that, are “colonias”.

Names: I am sorry to say, we do not have any way to name all species, if we have here in Nuevo Leon more than 30 oak species, we just call them “encino” if Querus is lucky, we will have just five or six common names, but they are local names, not applying to other states.

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Thanks Carlos - I should have used the term Municipio rather than District for the Level 2 divisions. But it does look like what GADM has for their Level 2 divisions
at least roughly matches municipalities according to Wikipedia

So you think Municipio’s are useful to have/maintatin on iNaturalist?

Places: Looks like the Inegi map is more up to date, as far as I saw it considers the lasts splits of previous municipalities. I’m not sure if those splits are all recent or not. For example check the up to date divisions of Baja California Sur:
The GDM map is missing the two more recent splits that formed 008 Los Cabos (in 1980) and Loreto (in 1992)
On the other hand just by looking the maps (and not the actual coordinates) a big number of municipalities look stable and the same on both. Not sure what you mean when you say they are quite different.

Common names: I never use them because they are really confusing, I believe common names in spanish don’t have as much resolution as in english. But I think the dictionary is a great way of engaging local communities

@loarie Check out this map, is a very well known map between birders in Mexico. It covers the number of endemic (for Mexico) species by municipalities and it uses the INEGI divisions I believe.
Getting this kind of map from iNat for other taxa would be very informative.

wow, that’s a …beautiful map. I wonder if there are also ‘overwintering endemics’ that may migrate and nest elsewhere but are tied to a specific part of Mexico to complete their life cycle.

There are 31 winter ‘semi-endemics’ that is, they have populations that spend winter exclusively in Mexico, and for six of them the whole population migrates exclusively to Mexico on winter and the whole population leaves after winter. (in the table: Endemismo = SE , Residencia = MI). As for your question, do you mean species that pass the winter elsewhere but are exclusively in Mexico the rest of the year? If my lecture of the definitions of the table are correct, there is ONE species that their whole population do this: Progne sinaloae. And guess what, their wintering place is unknown (although assumed to be inland in SA)

The database is searchable here:

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YES! for sure!, we use municipios a LOT around here, many of the CNC cities used one or several municipios to set up the geographic range.
Municipios are the smallest political divisions here in México, they are very important, please keep them.
(Sorry for the late response)


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The 3.6 release looks like it fixes the problems in our current scheme with the Gulf of California islands (specifically Isla Tortuga and Isla San Pedro Martir).

Unfortunately Mexico is one of 2 countries (the other being the US) where we’re not currently using GADM data. As described here there were concerns from CONABIO with the the GADM level 2 data so they asked us to replace it with the ‘official’ data which has the island issues