On places and checklists

I wonder how checklists are formed for a certain place, especially for a newly created place.

This is also pertinent for projects that feature the automatic addition of observations, in particular for projects that allow the addition of only the introduced taxa.

One example:
This Lantana has been identified as L. horrida but this taxon is absent from the checklist of this place:

So, I would like to know if there is a possibility to add this taxon to this place.

Many thanks to those who will provide any clarification.


I am not a curator, but I do not think one needs to be a curator to edit the list. On the right side of the page at:
is a green “Add to List” button and it appears anyone can add any species. Someone correct me if I am in error!

I gather that lists in general have been problematic and this functionality is apparently not slated to see much in the way of support. Although the post relates to personal lists, I am guessing that under the hood may be some sort of common “list” object that is being used. Having read a number of a topics including the differences between ebird and iNaturalist I have come away with the impression that lists are intentionally not a focus of iNaturalist. Lists are not seen as being socially interactive, and the iNaturalist team seems to have a focus on elements that engage the community on iNaturalist in conversations about nature. Just my opinion!

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many thanks for the explanation :-)

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A couple of things, the link you posted (although it has the same problem), is not actually the checklist, it is the observed species list. The link to the checklist is at the lower left. The checklist is different in that it can have things not observed, so it may not actually be the same code base, I don’t know.

Dana is right, all users can add things to a checklist, it is not restricted to curators.

They are clearly having problems again keeping the data on these in synch, it is not just your signtings. For example I found a rare beetle in my home county the other day which was a 1st for the county. It made it to the checklist https://www.inaturalist.org/check_lists/30353-Hamilton-Check-List?q=&view=photo&taxon=119895&observed=any&threatened=any&establishment_means=any&occurrence_status=not_absent&rank=species&taxonomic_status=active

it is the Cicindela limbalis which got to the checklist, but the observation is not indicated
Here is the record
@tiwane I wonder if there is a generic refresh issue going on here?


The first problem is that the plant in the referenced observation is not Lantana horrida. It appears to be a yellow and orange cultivar of Common Lantana. I have added the generic ID to the observation. IF I am correct, that may make the question of adding the species to any checklist moot.

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On the checklist page for your place:


Next to the Add to List link, you will see a smaller link, Add Batch. One option for this is:

Upload CSV

File should be in the following format: taxon name, description, occurrence status, establishment means. CSV should not contain a header row.
Allowed occurrence status values: present, common, uncommon, irregular, doubtful, absent
Allowed establish means values: native, endemic, introduced

Things I don’t know, having not yet used this feature:

  • Does an uploaded CSV replace the entire existing checklist, or just add to it? (hopefully the latter)
  • Will taxa that already exist in the checklist have their description, establishment means, and/or occurrence status values updated if included in the CSV?

EDIT: see subsequent post here. Uploading a CSV allows both addition of new taxa, and updates to existing taxa.

Something that is likely true:

  • If the taxon name does not exactly match an iNat taxon name (or synonym name used only once?), it will probably fail to import, and you will need to add such taxa manually. Or maybe the upload process will query you to correct mismatches – will just have to try it and see.

EDIT: mismatches are flagged, with the opportunity to look up and save an iNaturalist equivalent for each one.


Many thanks for the precious clarifications

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So, I’ve been using this feature quite a bit recently and can answer a few of the questions.

Uploading a CSV or just the line-by-line copy of the text (which is what I generally do) adds to the check-list, it does not replace it.

Taxa that are already on the check-list remain untouched. You get a warning message saying, “taxa already on check-list”.

Names… this is where it gets to be a bit of a slog. Some names iNat recognizes automatically (and occasionally gets wrong). In a few cases the name will refer to several taxa and iNat will ask for clarification. In many cases iNat does not recognize the name, so you have to click the “lookup” button, and if iNat still does not recognize it you need to click the “search external providers” link. If iNat still does not recognize it you then need to go to an external source manually and search to see if it’s misspelled or is a synonym, in which case you copy the updated name into the field and repeat the “lookup” process. In a number of cases, particularly with plants, the entry is a valid and recognized name that iNat simply does not recognize. In that case you can message curators and ask them to add it to iNat manually.

Copying text in line-by-line you’re limited to 1000 lines. I do not know of there is a line limit for the CSV file.

I do not know if adding species in this manner updates info concerning establishment status as I’ve been adding the species in as copied text, not as a CSV due to the way the species lists I currently have are formatted.

One oddity is that even if your ‘project’ includes ‘places’ (completely enclosing them), often the project and the place will have different checklists and numbers of observed taxa. This is a bit of an annoyance and the only way I’ve found to correct this is to repeat the entire process by downloading the data from the ‘project’ and re-uploading it to the ‘place’, then repeating all the manual fiddly bits, which is a bit tedious at times, especially if you’re running into the thousands of taxa.

Hopefully that provides a bit of clarity.


There is no limit to the number in a csv load, but if you think fixing the issues described regarding missing or duplicated names is tough on 999 names, imagine with multiple thousands and no way to save it to come back to it.

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Oh, I can well imagine.

I do mine in batches of 50-100 as the species lists for this region are full of mis-spellings, outdated names, obscure synonyms, and endemic plants that aren’t widely known. I have to manually check at least 30% of every batch, often upwards of half.

I’m about 2/3 of the way through the plant list for the area and have already done the herps, mammals, birds, corals, and as many of the fish as I have data for. Insects we lack lists for, but one of my guys here has gotten the iNat fever and is making a ton of moth and other insect observations.

I finally got a chance to try this out myself on a place checklist using the CSV upload option (see a resulting bug report here). There is indeed a warning message for existing taxa, but the values for Description, Occurrence Status, and Establishment Means can still be updated via the Update button on each taxon, or via the batch Save button at upper right. Taxa in the batch import must be selected first, then these buttons will update existing values for the selected taxa.

Adding new species as copied text will result in the default (blank or unknown) values for each species. If adding via CSV, you can specify and save Description, Occurrence Status, and Establishment Means values for each taxon at time of upload.

All the above applies to Place checklists. I have not yet played with Project checklists.

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