Observations of groups of animals

I have sometimes made observations of a mother animal with young, or males and females together. Are those worth reporting? If so, how do I treat the adult/juvenile or sex tags?


You can choose one individual that is on each photo and add annotations for it, if there’re different individuals on each photo add only annotations that fit all of them. You always can duplicate the observation and separate individuals if you want to.


Hello and welcome :)
Yes, these are great observations!

Each observation should be about one individual, so make sure all the photos include that individual. You can always make a duplicate observation with a note, e.g., “this one is for the eggs”.

If you want to get a little more advanced, on the website you have access to Observation Fields which allow you to add all kinds of extra information, such as the number of individuals present.


100% worth reporting. If they are the same species, you can choose to just bundle them all in one (eg. https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/46864814), or you can choose to split them via the duplicate observation under the Edit down button on the top right, and then changing the description to let users know what you are referring to (eg. "for the ducklings).

But if the photo contains multiple different species, then you will need one observation for each species.

Which has the priority? Individual or species? Cause I used an example above where I put multiple individuals under the same species into one observation.

So, for one example, I did an observation of a White Tailed Deer fawn, and a separate observation of the fawn’s mother. Just included one photo, the individual in each observation I entered. Should I add to each of them the photo of the two of them together? Photos were taken at the same time, of the same individuals.

Your example is exactly on point. So I could in principle, do three observations: the fawn, the mother and the two of them? Is that better than two, with a photo of the pair in each individual observation?

Surely you can do it and it adds additional information to context of observation.

You can’t do observation of two of them as separate if you have 2 other observations, you can do either them together as 1 obs or as 2 observation of fawn and mother separately including photos where they’re together.

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I agree with melodi_96, for your example there are two ways you can handle this:

  1. fawn and mother as separate observation, OR
  2. fawn and mother bundle as one observation.

If you do 1 and 2 then I would say that technically counts as an observation duplicate, and that is something we want to avoid.


There was one occasion when I put several individual plants into one observation, because I was documenting an instance of incipient invasiveness, and it was important that they were all in one cluster: Queen Palm

Another option, and which I think would be simpler and a great feature for iNaturalist, is to have one or more Observation Fields (on the right-hand side of the page) that can indicate adults, juveniles, or both; and how many individuals in each photograph.

It’s not possible, observation is for one individual.

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If they’re different individuals, the photos go on different observations, each with a slightly different location. When I’m interested in reporting a new population of an invasive species, the spread and abundance are most important for me to document.


It’s not possible, observation is for one individual.

Why? If I photograph a family of geese travelling together, I would find it simpler and easier to annotate the number of individuals in the one photo in a single Observation field (which could be tracked/ordered in a CSV export), instead of going through the extra effort of duplicating observations for each individual and adding each observation all to the same projects.

Wouldn’t it just clutter up the map and dataset to create multiple observations of the same group that were observed all at the same time and location? In a CSV export, wouldn’t such duplicate records be problematic?

The Observation field would help with the number of individuals seen in the one observation, just like how observation fields are used for tracking habitat use, etc.

It’s just how I see things and not a hill I’m going to die on.

Because that’s iNat policy, you can add multiple organisms in one obs but it’s not ideal, yet we all sometimes do that. Observation field for numbers seen exist. It’s not a duplicate as you will have different photos, using one photo for dozens of observations is possible but for me it’s sshowing no effort, so try to photograph individuals, if not - add 1 obs of a all of them together.


I believe these all came from a single seed-dispersal event. They were literally a lone cluster in a landscape otherwise without them.

Having separate observations of every single goose in a flock, or something similar, is just not realistic. For one thing, it’s infinitely easier and simpler to take a few photos of the entire flock than to try to get a picture of each separate individual. The other option is to duplicate the observation of the flock as many times as there are geese - and that’s just ridiculous! It doesn’t do much good and creates annoying clutter for identifiers, as I mentioned in a different thread. So yes, the rules say that an observation is an encounter with one organism, but that’s a generalization and doesn’t take into account flocks or family groups of the same species. That rule should probably be revised.


I don’t mean to seem to be pouring cold water on this suggestion or as trying to stiffle feedback, but rather am posting more for anyone reading who may not have the background on this.

This question has been discussed for as long as I have been a member of the site, and almost certainly much further back than that. The site has consistently said they will not be changing this guideline or how an observation is defined. Their view is the site is used to document presence, not abundance, and as such the rule that 1 observation =1 indivudual is how records will be defined.


I have made separate observations of the mother and the fawn. But I plan to add the photo of them together to both observations and say something in the notes. If I were doing a flock, I don’t know what I’d do! I do have a photo of a small group of geese feeding in a lake, but haven’t posted it yet. Just can’t see the point of four different observations, although with a little photoshopping I could clip our four different individuals and post them separately. The logic of the last response is one observation, maybe with a crop of one flock member, but then another photo of the whole group in the same observation?? That would seem the most potentially useful. IMHO.