Multiple entries of same species

The same species may be seen at the same location at multiple times within the same year (such as spring and fall) or across multiple years. Is this type of temporal information useful to INaturalist or should observations be limited to a single post?

An osbervation is of one species at a given time and location, so recording the same species at the same location during different times is completely valid. These can be extremely useful as it gives an idea of what species are proliferating around your area, and what times during the year a certain species may appear, giving us more information about both the spatial and temporal distribution of a given species.


Totally agree, this is great information to have. In general an observation of one specific individual/day is an unofficial max (like, it would be a bit much to upload an observation of the same individual organism once per hour!). But aside from that, upload away!

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I like to photograph the same individual plant multiple times during the year to show its development over time especially for species that has different shaped leaves depending on age of plant or time of year. Other times I may have previously photographed a plant species when it was flowering but years later I may notice that the same population was blooming abnormally early or late and make a new observation of that species to record the different bloom time.

Recently I got a trail camera and was just going to document one sighting of each species at each spot I put the camera (I move it around). Last week though I decided I wanted to be more thorough and add more observations so I can see which species come on the same night, what times they prefer to come, and when I’ve noticed distinct markings I can note that multiple individuals are visiting the same night.


l often upload several observations of the same species (different individuals) a day, especially if I’m traveling and these are not species I can encounter at home. I’m mostly into observing geckos and other reptiles. I often think that I should choose only one individual per day, because that’s what “serious users” tend to do, but then the temptation to share several cute geckos is too big :joy: Moreover, the species I observe usually have few observations on inat, so I hope that my gecko oversharing can at least improve the species recognition algorhythm in a longer run. So I’d say it’s totally up to you. As long as you’re not posting several observations of the same organism during the same day, you’re fine. If you want to post several pictures of the same organism taken on the same day, just add them to the same observation.


Welcome to the fourm!

We have one user in our area that (I feel) is quite prolific in observations and posts many observations of the same species in given areas over as far back as 16 years ago. I just happened to pick Northern Flicker and a very small given area and they have 282 observations since 2012. I feel this is very valuable information and they seem to enjoy it.

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I will often post photos of many individuals of the same species in a day. Especially of geckos! Who could resist?


Here’s a slightly different take on multiple observations of the same species: I have a trail cam focused on a bird bath in my back yard. It documents the common resident birds (e.g. White-winged Dove) and mammals (e.g. Fox Squirrel) multiple times every day. Since these are abundant resident species, I’ve limited my uploads to one observation per species per month. Same for seasonally common species like wintering Yellow-rumped Warblers. In fact, I limit uploads of most birds and mammals to once/month unless it is a really uncommon species or unusual sighting (e.g. to document different individuals, etc.).
I apply the same criterion for uploads of moths on my moth sheet. For most species, I upload only one observation/species/month unless I’m focusing on some other specific question (like odd color patterns, etc.).
Just my personal preference.


Thanks @robotpie, I fully agree! With a past life as an aquatic invertebrate ecologist, I fully understand the usefulness of temporal information. I just wanted to make sure that type of information would fit within the scope of iNaturalist and not be a source of “redundant” information.

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Way of posting doesn’t make anyone a serious user, posting each reptile is not only a good thing, it’s very cool too!


I don’t think there are any official rules regarding “redundant” information, even though many of us here are not big fans of it. iNaturalist is for the general public, and anyone from the layman to the expert can have an account and upload their observations of wildlife. Scientists who use iNat to gather info can decide for themselves what sort of data they want to collect from the website.

Of course it depends on what you mean by “redundant”. If you say post 10 images of the same animal at different times between 1:00pm to 1:10pm, its not against the rules, but it can seem redundant to some users.

On that note, I have a question of my own. In this observation of Mountain Mullet, I have three images of the same individual, taken within one minute of each other as it moved around. To avoid perceived redundancy, I combined them into one image. What is the community’s opinion of doing this?

My personal opinion is I’m for the merging. I think the perceived redundancy comes from that fact that the time interval between successive images is very short.

Eg. Many times I would spend a good few mins taking different angle photos of an insect eg. planthopper, but I will still merge them into one observation.

One specimen at one day = 1 observation is a rule most of us follow, I see no reason in doing otherwise (some are up to dividing interesting behavior, for me as long as you are sure it’s one specimen - merge it, if you have doubts - divide).

Right, but the question referred to three original images made into a single image, not just an observation with three images.

I think @tiwane said - iNat prefers not to use collage. Single images are more effective.

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