Observations - best practices - quantity & frequency

For Inaturalist’s purposes, how many and how often should observations be posted?
As an example, this year we have seen more Green Jays returning daily. This is a change from past behavior. There are at least 4 individuals, seen either singularly or in pairs or all four together.
I realize that over-reporting, as well as under-reporting, would skew the data.
So, my questions are:
Should these be reported daily?
Should each individual be reported if I could photograph it?


To answer your question, I am going to link to another forum post (which also links to another).

In short, submit what you want. More data can always be used, but it is up to you how much you want to share. Or if there is a particular project you are associated with and what they want.

I personally try not to submit the same thing from the same place more than once a week, but that is personal preference.


So long as you are following the guidelines, you are free to do as you wish. Researchers do know that data will always reflect the bias of population centers, personal interest, and more. Sometimes a “case study” can be very informative, too.

I personally focus on plants, so I’m much more likely to upload when there is a change of some sort from the last time – e.g. significant growth, or budding.
Animals I’ll get about once per day per area per species, or if they display unusual behaviour.

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Thank you for your quick answer. I will read that link.

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Thank you. I appreciate your plant focus and I will try to emulate that in my posts. I have not been diligent in identifying what is growing here, and over time I am trying to bring in more native species removing the invasive.

As to animals, I don’t see a method of indicating numbers over time. Is mention in the description good, or is there a better way?

Again, thank you.


Welcome to iNat!

There isn’t a good way to indicate numbers over time in an observation. Please make separate observations for each encounter: https://www.inaturalist.org/pages/help#observations1

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Thank you, @tiwane (Tony).
Consider a flight of 20 Inca Doves or a kettle of 30 hawks. I may have photo’d 2 or three of each and can report these individuals. Other than in the description, 17 doves and 28 hawks would go unreported.
Is there a method to report observations without photographs?
Again, my thanks and wishes for a Merry Christmas.

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ebird :)


Well, you can add an Observation Field to the observation and add a count of the number of individuals (eg https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/36660214) if you want, but iNat really is not designed for abundance recording. iNat’s secondary goal is data collection, its primary goal is to help people engage with nature. My guess, and maybe I’m biased because this describes me, is that most people don’t find counting individuals particularly enjoyable or engaging while on a hike. It’s workable for birds and other vertebrates, but if you wanted to do it for plants or insects, it would be quite a slog, in my opinion. If you want to record abundance of birds, I recommend using eBird.

You can always make an observation without media, either by clicking this on the uploader:


Or choosing to upload as a batch via the deprecated upload page:



Thank you, Tony. I returned to (improved, thanks) iNaturalist as a result of an meeting I had attended, and much the talk was about counts. Now, after also looking again at eBird, I believe the presenter (or just me) may confused the two.

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Thank you, Mary!

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