Multiple similar species in the same photo

Someone has uploaded a photo of a bunch of wasps eating an apple, but 2 similar wasp species in the same genus are clearly visible in the pic, so I ID’ed it as the genus, and told them they should crop a specific wasp and upload that separately if they want a species level ID, but they don’t like that my ID is reducing the taxonomic precision of the record and say that cropping would take away the context of showing multiple species feeding together, what should be done here?

The way I (sometimes) handle that is to make an insert image if the particular detail in the photo to highlight what I want people to see. Here is an example with some additional detail of a flower:

Other times I’ll add a circle to the specific thing I’m making an observation for.

This takes a lot of additional work though and can’t really be done via mobile.


Other users seemed to think this was OK to just have 2 photos of the same multi-species cluster under different listings,so maybe it’s not a problem, but in this context it seems confusing as there are multiple of each species mikes together all in focus in the center of the photo, there also appears to be a couple hostile comments

It might not apply to this observation, but I will often ID one species and describe it (either by its position in the image, or by identifying features), then suggest a separate observation be created for the other species.

ie, “This ID is for the three individuals with brown stripes, not black”

*Edit - You could also explain to them that your ID isn’t reducing taxonomic precision. As long as it’s the same genus as for the species IDs, and you’re not specifically disagreeing with the species ID, then it’s having no effect whatsoever - as if you never made an ID in the first place


I think you raised the observer’s hackles in the observation in question when you chose specifically to disagree when you added the higher-level ID, which is why it reduced the taxonomic certainty. It’s perfectly fine to show multiple species in the same photo. Encouraged, even. The only standard is, “is there evidence of the claimed species?”

You can add higher-level taxonomic IDs without disagreeing with the finer ones.


There’s no requirement for an observation photo to contain only one species. After all, a photo of one wasp feeding on an apple still contains more than one species! The guideline is that identifiers should respect the observer’s intention as much as possible. If the observer IDs one of the species in the photo, it’s obvious that’s the individual they want the observation to represent. If they add a note saying “the one on the left”, the same applies.

If the OP hasn’t made it clear which individual their observation is for, then it’s fine to add a higher level ID and/or ask them to specify. But they don’t have to crop the photo to do that - they simply have to say which individual they’re referring to.


It is cheap enough to take another photo (or crop it appropriately) so that the intended species is better illustrated. A large eagle is standing out like a sore thumb in the gallery of a tree species but with hardy any leaves visible. What is the implications for Computer Vision?

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Almost every photo on the site has multiple species in it. (I guess many wildlifers just don’t consider plants species) If we were to start accounting for various species in each photo, many/most IDs on the site would be backed off to “Life”, which would obviously be pointless.


I might leave my ID as genus, but certainly wouldn’t explicitly disagree!

The observation belongs to the observer, so you do have to honour their indication as to what the subject is. But the identification belongs to you, it is what you believe their subject is, and they don’t really have cause to be upset about your ID, apart from the fact that you have explicitly disagreed which is what causes it to change in terms of CID.

It’s not respect it as much as possible, it is to respect it period. If the user makes an incorrect identification that is one thing, but if the species they choose to enter is present, then adding a different ID is disruptive and not acceptable.

Worrying about the implications for the computer vision is unnecessary in my mind. It assumes that only ‘perfect’ photos are valid for the system. Cases like this reinforce the real world data the system will encounter, unless we want to start the whole only 5 star pics should be allowed debate again.


there is absolutely no requirement to crop, process, divide, or otherwise alter photos taken of organisms so long as the photo was taken following the guidelines (ie not a copyright violation or tagged with wrong location, same organism visible in all photos posted, etc). Demoting to genus because you can see two species is not appropriate… the observer was justified to be frustrated by this. @insectobserver123 please don’t do this any more, it is against the rules of iNat.


I only meant ‘as much as possible’ in the sense of, as much as you are able to discern the OPs intention. If they don’t make an ID or leave a comment, you can’t respect their intention because you won’t know what it is, that’s all.

Yes, it may be cheap and easy to do. That doesn’t mean it’s a requirement. Users are not under any obligation to consider the computer vision when they make observations. If the computer vision learning system can’t cope with occasional bad quality photos or mistakes, then it’s a failed system - not the users’ problem.

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The policy for cropping or editing photos (namely that the observer is not obligated to do so) is well established and also extensively discussed in other threads as well, so I am going to go ahead and close this thread, as a reminder, the identifier should only identify the organism that the observer intended to identify, you are free to disagree with their identification of that organism but should not add IDs for other organisms in the photo or knock back to higher taxonomic levels because there is more than one species evident. Also, teh AI is being built and trained to deal with this specific issue and ‘knows’ that most photos have multiple organisms in the,.