New Annotation: Evidence of Presence

I’ve been using “track” for leaf mines because they record a history of the animals’ movements.

I would also label “track” for slime trails and radula tracks.

1 Like

in the case of birds, may be useful to add the value ‘Nest’ to the list of ‘Evidence of Presence’

This could also apply for some fish.

1 Like

I saw this addition and thought great but we do need a category for ‘homes’. That is: bird nests; other veterbrate burrows; insect structures (such as ant nest entrances, Lepidoptera shelters etc).
Many of these are identifiable to species and are often identified to species on iNat without any other evidence of the organism.


For those asking for some sort of “home” annotation value, I think the most useful thing you can do to push this forward is to answer some of the questions Tony outlined in the original post.

  • Should one single value apply to all types of homes, or should there be one for nest, one for burrow, one for hive, etc.?
  • Exactly which taxa should this apply to (especially if multiple different values)?
  • What should this value be in English (e.g. “domicile”, “construction”), and is it easily translatable to other languages?

Try to think of how edge cases should be handled, for example a deer bed or a bower.


I’d be happy calling all the things you mention “homes” or domiles or constructions. (deer beds, bowers, nests, burrows, hives, etc.) People will be able to tell which kind from the species, in general. I’m not even unhappy calling a beaver dam a “home” since beavers that make dams do so to produce the ponds they live in.


The definition of track is “Impression in ground or snow made by an organism.”, it’s really not meant to cover leaf mines.


btw it’s shown there if you point cursor on it, far from being intuitive to find it out:

1 Like

It would be nice if “Organism” were the first choice, because 997 times out of a thousand, that will be the choice. Must these choices be alphabetical?


Suppose I heard a bird song? I have no photo, but I certainly know that bird is alive.


If you record and submit the bird song, it’s the same as a photo — evidence of a live organism.

What do you all think about this borderline case? Photo #1 caribou leg with exposed bone. Photo #2 caribou lower jaw.

Organism : Whole or partial organism.
Bone Predominantly endoskeletal remains. Partial bone exposure in an otherwise intact organism should be labeled “organism”.
Don’t annotate if none of the values are a good match, don’t annotate the observation.


I think we can split animal architecture from temporary bedding down marks which I would regard as tracks and maybe better amalgamated as traces.

1 Like



Alive/dead which doesn’t even have an own graph! :upside_down_face:

1 Like

I am so glad you added this, Tony. I had been meaning to ask for it. I would have used slightly different categories, namely:

  1. Saw living or recently dead animal [please also complete “Alive or dead” and “life stage”]
  2. Heard but not seen
  3. Evidence of habitation [nest, gall, den, etc.]
  4. Evidence of passage [scat, feather, molt, bone, corpse that no longer smells, tracks]

You can break up these categories–as you have done for #4. I would break up #1, replacing the alive or dead annotation, but when I suggested this on the Forum recently, I got a very negative response from one person.

There are three reasons Evidence of Presence will be a terrific help. First, limiting a search to #1 on my list will show when an animal is active and allow year-to-year comparisons for global warming studies. Second, an identifier can exclude those categories in which she or he lacks expertise–e.g., birdsong. Third, it might help to limit Life Stage entries to sightings of actual animals. I have seen observations of plant galls with the life stage set at “eggs” for species where the gall does not form until the larvae emerge from the egg.

Again, thanks!


(1) The “Skulls & Bones” project is one example of folks who specifically want bones, not partial remains or bones with tissues attached. I would vote for a separate category for bones.
(2) Likewise, the “Found Feathers” project is only interested in bird feathers, not bones, not other animal remains. Also, if feathers are categorized as “partial remains”, that suggests to me the bird was dead, which isn’t necessarily the case, if the bird was just molting.
(3) The “partial remains” category could then be for multiple tissue types (e.g., bones, hair, skin, internal organs, etc.)
(4) Since you allow multiple entries for this Annotation, one could add several categories, as applicable, e.g., bones, feathers
(5) Would you like to add “smelled organism” to include skunk/fox scent? (see the values for the “How was this detected?” field.
(6) Would it be possible to map the “How was this detected?” field to the “Evidence Type” annotation, similar to how the “Observation field: Alive (AOR), Dead (DOR), or Injured (IOR)” observation field maps into the “Alive or Dead” annotation? If that can be done automatically, hundreds or thousands of current observations could have an auto-updated “Evidence Type” annotation.

1 Like

Not really possible and I think it’s good for consistency. I’d also be less concerned about marking Organism than I would the other values, since most photos are of an organism.

I’d maybe choose both Bone and Organism. But yeah, definitely shows the need for a photo-level annotation functionality.

Couldn’t you just seach for observations with sounds? eg

Bones basically is a separate category, although there’s always going to be some gray areas. But it’s really meant for situations where the evidnece is pretty much just bone. That’s why it’s defined as: Predominantly endoskeletal remains. Partial bone exposure in an otherwise intact organism should be labeled “organism”.

Annotations need to be based on evidence that the community can evaluate and vote on, so scent wouldn’t be applicable.

You mean “Evidence of Presence,” not “Evidence Type,” correct? I think the Scat and track ones would map well. But I’d like to get a list of other relevant observatin fields (including non-English ones) so we could do it all at once rather than map one at a time.


@NancyinSunnyvale, FYI, we’ve been using the “Alive or Dead” annotation for Pacific Newt roadkill (>16,000 observations to date). Many people complained when we started adding roadkill data, so we thought this would be a good way for people to filter out the dead creatures if they’re only interested in live ones. This comment also applies to anyone posting roadkill observations (there are a lot of them). Also, in many cases, roadkill is so smashed it’s impossible to tell life stage, so splitting up “Alive or Dead” with “Life Stage” wouldn’t work for us.


I don’t see “bones” as a choice in the “Evidence Type” field.

Yes, I’m confused by the multiple fields for the same thing. I meant map “How was this detected?” to “Evidence of Presence.” Thanks for the correction.

Regarding the “smelled organism” - that makes sense. Got it.

I would be in favor of renaming “partial remains” to just “found remains” or something to that effect. Case in point: roadkilled newts might be categorized as “Alive or Dead = Dead” and “Evidence of Presence = organism”, but only if the newt is completely whole when observed. Most are smashed or smashed and dragged several feet or only bits and pieces are left. It would be helpful to have them all categorized the same way “Dead” and “Found Remains”. I think this applies to all roadkill observations.

“Partial remains” is not a value for the Evidence of Presence annotation - are you perhaps referring to an observation field?