New Annotation: Evidence of Presence

I really think “fur” (or “fur/hair”) needs to be added as a choice to the Evidence of Presence field for observations of mammals.

In the Rockies and Cascades, sightings of mountain goat fur are much more common than sightings of goats themselves. (Here’s an example.) They’re expanding their ranges in southern Washington and central Oregon, and fur snagged on trees is one way to track their progress. As long as these observations are being posted anyway, why not expand the “Evidence” tag to cover them?

5 Likes

Moving EoP to the bottom of the Annotations list would resolve some errors in Annotations entries.
When you populate this annotation, it automatically creates another EoP line. But not quickly… by then the user is trying to fill in a different annotation. As the screen refreshes with the additional EoP, everything shifts and the user ends up accidentally picking the wrong Life Stage. (Or some other error, but this is the most common one.) Usually without knowing it.
I’m seeing a lot more errors in Life Stage since EoP was added. I now populate that one last to avoid the problem. Putting it at the bottom of the list would help everyone avoid it.

11 Likes

That’s good feedback - right now the annotations are automatically shown in alphabetical order.

I assume you’re referring to using your mouse to add observations on the actual observaiton page, not with the Identify page? Here’s a screen recording of me annotating an observation on its page - does this match the speed of what you’re seeing? I’ve got a pretty fast internet connection so I’m curious how that affects the speed of a new EoP annotation row being added.

Is it possible we could be allowed to add EoP annotations appropriate for any active ID and not just the CID? For example say, hypothetically, I find a bone which has been accidentally ID’d to ‘Fungi’ and I add an ID to ‘Vertebrates’, the CID is now ‘Life’ so the only annotation which is available ‘Sex’ so I would have to remember to come back and add EoP:Bone when I get a notification that the CID has moved to at least ‘Vertebrates’

1 Like

Thank you for the reply @tiwane!
Yes - annotating my own observations on the observation page.
If your recording is true to the timing, then my update experience is much slower. I’m supposed to have a pretty fast speed for my area (everything’s relative), and I’m using a wired connection trying to make the most of what I have. I am attaching a screen capture from a speed test.
Honestly, this isn’t the only update problem I’m experiencing. When I finish annotating an observation and use the arrows to move to the next, it glitches. I’m annotating that next observation, and suddenly the screen is displaying the observation I navigated away from - and applying my changes to it! (The address box continues to display the address of the observation I was trying to annotate.) This happens a lot.
image

1 Like

Yeah, I suspect this goes to deeper isues within the Identify page and general scaling issues.

No, annotations are based on CID and I doubt that will change. Photo-level annotations is probably what we eventually need to do, although exactly how that will connect with the observation’s IDs would need to be figured out.

2 Likes

See When clicking through observations quickly, two are combined into one.

@fluffyinca thank you! Yes, that’s what I’m seeing. I chimed in on that discussion with examples.

1 Like

Here are some potential Evidence of Presence values I’ve been thinking of adding, let me know what you think (but please be constructive). Each one shows the value, the applicable taxa, a possible definition, and examples of evidence for which it might be used.

Construction (Animalia) - Something built or excavated by an animal’s non-feeding activities.

Covers: nests of all kinds, burrows/tunnels, bowers, spider webs, ant hills, termite mounds, beaver dams, spider trapdoors and turrets, reefs/coral structures

Evidence of feeding (Animalia) - Evidence that an animal, which is no longer present, has fed. [kind of an ugly sentence…], mosquito bite

Covers: bites marks in leaves, kill sites, woodpecker holes, beetle galleries

Gall (Insects, Mites, Fungi, Bacteria…) - abnormal plant growth instigated by a parasite.

Covers: galls

Scratch or rub (Mammalia, or maybe just some mammal clades) - damage caused by rubbing or scratching.

Covers: bear rubs and scratches, deer rubs, etc.

Leaf mine (Pterygota) - feeding tunnel within a leaf.

Covers: leaf mines

Hair (Mammalia) - hair no longer attached to an organism

Covers: mammal fur


I still go back and forth about construction - the idea is to not use a bunch of different English terms (eg nest, burrow, web, bower, mound, hive, etc) that might be difficult or impossible to translate, but still have term that’s useful when going to a taxon’s photo browser (eg a bunch of web photos for a spider family or genus could be really helpful with ID).

There’s also some overlap, eg a leaf mine could also be evidence of feeding, but having those both be marked doesn’t seem like it would cause many problem (even though I’d be for marking only the best one).

17 Likes

Agree

2 Likes

I want this one

2 Likes

I like all of them! I do think leaf mine is redundant unless mining bugs are likely to be seen using a different feeding method. I don’t know much about insects but that seems unlikely.

I think these would all be super useful! Although I do kind of agree that leaf mine could just be clumped with feeding

1 Like

Leaf mine is just one of several types of plant mines, which are listed in this observation field:
https://www.inaturalist.org/observation_fields/12593
Plant Mine may be more useful than Leaf Mine because it is more general for a similar purpose, and stem, fruit, and flower mines are not covered by other options.

Plant Mine or Leaf Mine may be more useful as an option for a Mode of Plant Feeding category than Evidence of Feeding, along with options for insects that are external feeders and internal borers of plant parts.

2 Likes

I really like these and think they would go a long way in ‘categorising’ most of the remaining non-organism sightings. I’ve got a couple of thoughts and suggestions though:

I really like this broad category. Narrower categories are good but we run the risk of excluding things and overcomplicating some categories if we try to oversplit them. I don’t think that coral structures should be included here though, at least not if we don’t also include things like shells. Shells and coral skeletons are more like bones in that the animal is permanently attached to them and cannot survive for any length of time if it is removed, rather than something like a home where the animal could build another or even just crawl back into the structure. That said, we don’t have a category for these types of non-vertebrate endoskeletons yet. We could make a new category, or we could expand the definition of ‘Bone’ to include these.

I don’t think we should include “which is no longer present” here. Why not annotate it as Evidence of feeding if the animal is still there? If an insect has just moulted and the moult is still there, I annotate it with both Organism and Moult. It’s a good way to associate the organism with its feeding markings and I think it’s beneficial to have multiple annotations for a sighting.

What about hairs from non-mammals? I can’t see it being an overly common thing, but I have seen isolated hairs from caterpillars and I can imagine people may come across urticating hairs from tarantulas and the like. Maybe I’m thinking too much into that though, and it doesn’t seem like a very important issue. I guess they are very different structures in arthropods though, so perhaps they would be better placed as a ‘partial organism’.

One thing that does come up from this is that the distinction between feeding and non-feeding constructions are not always obvious. If an animal digs a burrow that it uses for both feeding and shelter, should we annotate it with both? But more importantly, what if we can’t tell? It seems a shame that we would just be leaving these blank. I’m not sure what a possible solution would be though, and thankfully it’s usually at least a bit obvious whether it is a feeding or non-feeding mark.

.

I guess there are still many cases that won’t be covered by any of these or any of the existing categories, but these ones will go a very long way to covering the remainder of sightings. In my mind the most common thing not covered by these is something like scratch marks or ‘tracks’ left by an organism in a surface other than the ground, but that aren’t related to feeding. A good example would be something like scratches in a tree trunk left by a monitor lizard as it climbs. They almost fit under Construction, but they haven’t really been constructed and it doesn’t seem like they fit. It’s hard to get a word there that fits everything though.

2 Likes

One advantage is it makes leaf miner images easier to find even if they can’t be identified to species. I could also imagine making it a term that might be able to expand to leaf damage more generally; theres a lot of stuff in ‘life’ where it could be a leaf mine or not.

Hopefully just all ‘state of matter life’, given that galls make up a substantial minority of all observations in that category. There is also plant damage there that isn’t really leaf damage or a gall; perhaps gall/infection?

That is also an advantage of ‘construction’ over more specific terms, in that the it might only be possible to determine which of ‘burrow’, ‘mound’, ‘nest’, or ‘hive’ is most appropriate for a hole in the ground if you already know the answer to what created it. It could also cover something like a beaver scent mound, and I assume the stumps of trees cut down by them.

There are conceptually similar things that are dubious to describe as ‘constructions’ like a deer bed: would you put that in?

Would this include patches of bark deliberately stripped by a squirrel, whether for nesting materials or food?

Edit: another advantage of possibly phrasing it ‘gall/infection’ is it can also apply to something like evidence of a papillomavirus on an animal, which could fit with making it available for all ‘life’

I share your frustrations. It helps to start one’s annotations at the bottom of the list, and work upward.

I think these fit quite clearly under scratch or rub.

Today I thought about empty egg casings, they’re not a construction, so wouldn’t fall under that category.

I like these, particularly Construction and Feeding. My inclination is to stay broad, and leaf mines and scratch/rub seem disproportionately specific compared to the other categories. I think I would combine leaf mines as an example under “Evidence of Feeding” and change the definition of “Track” to include scratch/rubbing:

Track : Impression in ground or snow made by an organism, or markings caused by rubbing or scratching.

Alternatively (still kind of an ugly sentence):

Track : Impression in ground, snow or other substrate made by an organism in motion (and non-feeding-related)

Alternatively (still ugly):

Track : Impression in ground, snow or other non-feeding markings on other substrates made by an organism

3 Likes