Posting Mulitple pictures of different individuals (in a low observation area / region)


Some months ago we were part of a month long Big Butterfly Month. The protocol used a format agreed upon by Lepidopterists across India . This included recording every individual seen, and photographed for cross checking - since many people new to butterflies were going to join in.

Inaturalist was one of the mediums used to document the data - so we recorded each individual (on a paper format) and also tried to photograph each individual and upload it.

I understand from some people from this thread that there is no consensus on what is the correct process

From my view point i thought of these

  1. The region we are in (Uttarakhand Himalaya, India) has very few observations (about 28,000 for an area of 53000 sq km of very diverse habitats). So the existing data set is really low to start with

  2. Multiple pictures of the same species will help future enthusiasts from that area in easier identification (assuming that the AI tool incorporates these data points of both form and populations). Right now the AI keeps reverting to European or American Species like this observation

  3. Mulitple angles of the same species, in different light conditions, resolutions also means feeding the AI better data (as long as the observations attain, i suppose, Research Grade Status)

  4. People posting them, ideally, should also id them - and this makes them better naturalists (i hope).

  5. While not exactly “scientific” in some cases multiple observations could be used to highlight a phenomenon. In the Himalaya there has been a lot of talk (and papers) on early and unseasonal flowering iof Rhododendron arboreum. (See this filtered set).

Once again we are encouraging observers to post as many observations they have of this tree in order to capture some sense of the phenomenon

See this project for a focus on winter observations.

However I have been cautioning them to mention in these bulk (say a flock of single species birds) observations that this is “one individual in a group of many” so that identifiers and curators are alerted to the fact that this is not list or number padding but a genuine case of multiple individuals.

Look forward to your thoughts on this and any other cautionary principles.

Thank you


There’s in fact a consensus and posting different individuals as different observations is ideal, with moths/butterflies it should be done pretty easily if there’re not gatherings of dozens of moving individuals. So you’re right!


@melodi_96 Thank you.


Absolutely to be encouraged! Cautioning them to mention that they are individuals from a large flock is a nice touch… though not essential, it certainly heads off many problems of people assuming it is multiple photos of the same individual.


On a related note: where there ARE large gatherings of butterflies – as at mud puddles – it is really frustrating to see several species in the group and not know which one the observer was trying to observe – or even if the observer was aware that there was more than one species (in the case of gatherings of Coliadinae).

Noted, and thanks for the advice.

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