Observation of same species/location annually

Is there any value in entering an observation of a species In the same location in subsequent years? Wondering if it has any use for tracking biodiversity and population composition change over time.

As well, my identification skills, particularly for insects are sadly lacking so often will post the same species on different days. Is this frowned upon or a problem?


You can see older topics with the same question, of course it’s very valuable to post one species many times! If you don’t want to do that, it’s okay also. But definitely users won’t be against seeing your data, and often seemingly the same insect for you will be actually another species, so observe the way that is the best for you personally.


Thanks That helps quite a bit. And alleviates some concerns I had


I’d say go for it, to me, repeated observations of the same population are useful for seeing how they change throughout the year. This is especially true for migrating species and those that only appear during certain seasons. I am loosely tracking two small groups of Canada Geese. (See https://inaturalist.ca/observations/110626162 & https://inaturalist.ca/observations/109966528)

I have fun doing it. But as mentionedby marina_gorbunova before, it really is your choice.


Welcome to the forum, by the way. Not many reach this point so congrats!


Posting the same insect species on different days is completely fine! You perceived the specimen and thus it counts as an observation. If it’s the same species on the same day and you see a cluster of them, I’ve also seen people do observation listings for each individual insect too which is totally permitted. If you’re unsure with your ID skills regarding insects, you could try to ID at a more general order and it’s likely somebody could narrow it down from there for you.


A lot of times I take pictures of wasps, it tends to mostly be the same 2 species. Some times a third species pops in. But even within each of those species there is a lot of variability. IE P. exclamans having lighter and dark morphs and P. dorsalis could have 2 small yellow marks on the mesepisternum rather than just 1 small mark. Recently found a Texanus Paper Wasp with atypical abdominal spots.

Sometimes I take pictures without noticing these and only make note of it when trying to ID it. Other times I notice something different and learn its the same species, but with an uncommon trait. So not just to help feed the algorithm, but also provides examples for others who may want to dive deeper to confirm a diagnosis.


It is neither. As you were wondering repeated observations do in fact help track changes in biodiversity. They also help track the spread invasive species and changes due to climate change. I record as many bee and moth observations as I can no matter how often I may have photographed them before for just those reasons.

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For plants, phenology data can be quite useful, if you record leaf and bloom times in the same place every year


I do the same thing. As @That_Bug_Guy says, it helps to document when certain species return, and changes over time. A lot of it is for my own knowledge - I doubt it will ever be used - but go ahead! iNat is really not about data, or goals, but engaging with wild Life. There are really no rules on iNat, but guidelines. Some are less flexible - nastiness or personal attacks are not tolerated - but in regards to observations, only pictures of people or other silly things are frowned upon.


This is fine and helps document changes (or stasis) of populations over time. Continue.


Even though I’ve been on iNat since Aug 2016, I still struggle with the same question from time to time. When is too much too much?

But after a lot of thought and a realization that I have learned a lot about nature in general because of iNat I can now look back and see that what I often felt might be an overabundance of observations of a particular species actually helped me understand more about a species than I ever could have if I walked away from it after a couple observations or so per year.

This can be true of plants, animals and fungi. It’s also been uncomfortable for me to be the “leader” in a number of observations made for a species that the lead is so wide that where I might have a total of 500 observations the next person on the list of leaders for the entire would might have 23 observations. Can me going out of my way to document even more add any value to iNat? After all, I’ve already have 500 observations so I may wonder if it is even of any value to ever shoot them again - ever.

At this point I can say, yes, what appeared to have been a possible overabundance at one point has now become fodder for a research project I may choose to run just to appease my curiosity. This is one of iNat’s functions that may be of value only to the observer but maybe others.

One example is the Herald Moth. I might have 500 to 600 observations and the next highest world leader maybe 35. Do you really need to see more from me? I’ve been struggling with this for the last three years of watching them overwinter (or at rest for the day during warmer months) in a small local pedestrian tunnel. Today I can tell you that I have learned a lot more about Herald Moths in the last three years than I ever could have in the first couple years of shooting them, plus I learned about other organisms that also share the tunnel with them throughout the year. Questions like “how did they hold up during our winter of record cold (-30F at one point)?, do they move around during certain months or in interaction to other organisms in winter?, how long does it take for the entire group (25 specimens this winter) to leave the tunnel after overwintering?, if you get a warm snap will some leave early and then possibly return to new spots in the tunnel when it gets cold again? Do they always overwinter in the darkest area of the tunnel or are there exceptions?” Why don’t some of them drown on days when a short warm snap causes heavy condensation in the very areas they occupy? Honestly, I would have never learned the answers to some of these questions if I didn’t keep shooting all year every year. Are all these observations and notes of value to anybody else? I don’t know but at this point I have learned that should be the least of my concerns but that I should assume that if it is of interest to me that’s good enough and that it might be of value to somebody else now or in the future.

Related to your question (but one you didn’t ask) is that of when to combine observations into one rather than uploading them all as individual observations. I think that’s personal choice but I can tell you how I approach that will vary from situation to situation. I might shoot Eastern Skunk Cabbage in five locations along a trail and one day feel that combining them all makes sense but the next day I may shoot them along another trail in very diverse environments and feel documenting/combining them into two or three observations to reflect the environmental variations is important to me. I once had a fellow tell me I could have combined all the Mallards I saw at a park into one observation but I had a plan and that was to document the new family of Mallards separately from the others, and to document those in a tiny backwater that had become disconnected from the rest of the lake separately. Today, I shot Marsh Marigold and noticed that some appeared to have been poisoned with an herbicide. I uploaded them separately.

I’m also a big believer in uploading multiple images for a single observation. Many times I’ve had IDs given based on one of the last photos of many that I uploaded for an observation.

Hope this helps!


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