I don’t do lots of IDs but I do this sometimes. A while ago I looked at bobcat observations and lots of them were obviously domestic cats. Recently I looked at the species list for a specific area and there were some way out of range RG captive observations that hadn’t been marked captive.
Almost 100,000 records are added to iNat on a daily basis and that number is growing quickly. With the resources on the site, it simply is not possible to double and triple check every identification that is submitted. As it is the number of people willing/able to do ID’s is quickly getting overwhelmed.
As others have said, one thing some people do is either monitor a taxa or group they know is prone to mis-identifcations and try and watch those. Another thing you can do is monitor the checklist of a place for the newest additions (the default view is order added to the checklist, so they will be last in line) to see if anything that raises suspicion has been added.
This may be taking the conversation in a different direction but I wonder if the project “iNaturalist” needs to actively remind people of the need for caution for the very specific reason that climate change increasingly affecting what is seen where. I don’t want to make this a political conversation and the caution is relevant for any natural range expansion.
I’m as guilt as anyone at assuming what to expect in my area but maybe the idea that you have to look to what’s been seen in nearby areas, before users of iNaturalist offer identifications, should be emphasized in some way. For people following birds, butterflies or dragonflies, they may already be doing this, but here in Ontario even within some taxon considered relative immobile, such as crayfish, new species have been posted and confirmed, that are found in an adjoining jurisdiction (Michigan) that had not previously recorded in Ontario.
Yes, that is a major source of error.
That’s not strictly necessary. Two IDs serve the same purpose as long as one of them isn’t the observer. It’s a subtle but important distinction, I think.
That reminds me, does anyone know a way to find all observations of a given taxon that do not have at least two IDs not counting the observer?
I agree that, just because a RG record lies outside of the previously-documented range of that species, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily wrong. It can become a circular verification process to rely on the known range as the main criterion for accepting or rejecting an ID. But an outlier is often a flag to a reviewer that the record needs another look, especially if it is WAY outside of the range (100s of miles). There certainly are many good range extension records on iNat, especially for more mobile species or those that tend to get moved around by humans.
We also have to remember that not everything we know about a species distribution is captured in iNat records. Many species have had their ranges well-documented by specimen collectors long before iNat came along. However, I’ve also noticed that the shaded range maps for some iNat species accounts, especially for many mammals, are not particularly accurate or up to date.
Just to give an idea of how the rate of observations is now outpacing identifiers.
Of verifiable records submitted from August 2019, 60% are research grade, for those from August 2020,it is around 45%.
Yes, the 2019 ones have had longer to get looked at, and some of the 2020 ones will still be reviewed at some time in the future to raise the numbers.
Observation numbers for August in North America increased by 50% from 2019 to 2020, but the number of identifiers dropped by almost a quarter in the same period.
I am a beginner at IDs with a special interest in birds, but also butterflies and wildflowers. (Local nature walks and hikes, some travel abroad.) This and other threads that indicate that some observations incorrectly become research grade make me i wonder whether this has happened to me. I am trying to be very careful about IDing my own observations, using the automated identifier, but also other sources—and am trying to learn about distinguishing features in what are for me close calls (viceroy vs monarch; northern vs southern leopard frog) I have been getting confirmations pretty quickly, and it is thrilling to get them. But still i am a beginner. So, I am hoping these are not pro forma ratifications of my initial ID. As i beginner, i would be very happy for my own ID to be considered tentative (and have sometimes indicated this in my comment) —and alsoto require 2 other confirmations before becoming research grade. In the meantime, would it be better for me not to do the species ID— and to indicate my tentative ID in the comments?
You can do it any number of ways. If I’m somewhat confident of my ID for one of my records, I’ll use it but add a comment to my own ID indicating some reservations or will mention an alternate species that should also be considered. Or I’ll indicate in the Notes on the record that this is a tentative ID. It always helps to add extra information on your thought process for why you provided that particular ID, which allows other reviewers to know what you were thinking.
I do the same, sometimes. Alternately, I’ll just put a tentative id in a comment, saying I think it’s X, but I’d be more comfortable if I could get an opinion for someone more knowledgeable. That way, if an opinion agrees with me, adding my own official suggestion seems less like an easy agreement.
The less confident I am, the more info I’ll add in the comments about why I’m making that suggestion. I often go back and reference this info for subsequent obs that might be the same species. I’ll often add links I referenced, as well.
I would encourage you to make the initial ID based upon your research, and, if you have a specific comment to make about another possibility include that as well. If someone confirms your ID but doesn’t address your comment, and you are still unsure, you can check the box in the Data Quality Assessment section that the community ID can be improved. That will put the observation back in “Needs ID” where it can come to the attention of additional identifiers.
Thank you all for your insight. In reference to my original post, this journey has taught me more than just about Erynnis. For instance, in having to expand my research outside of iNat, I have also learned that narrow abdomen and limited spot pattern are also indicators of males in this butterfly. … Now I understand that the brightness or darkness of general color and the size of the butterfly seem to be epigenetically/environmentally influenced, so those two identifying traits can vary due to food sources, temperature, etc., but the limited versus exaggerated size of spots (still in the same locations on the wings), abdomen thickness, and costal folds indicate male or female. Consider these two males and two females for examples…
… An even larger lesson I have learned by this exercise is that the comment section in the identification box on iNat is rarely used to expand on why an identifier selects a species and gender. I know a lot of observers have been on here for a long time and have large groups of followers that they are used to sharing with on a regular basis, and having to explain why they think an observation is a particular species and gender probably feels a little redundant. However, I’m not competing for numbers of IDs or attention for my photographs. For me, it’s more about dialogue with others in an effort to appreciate, share, and learn about our natural world. As I learn more about various species and habitats, I ‘will’ be filling in that box with information as to why I think what I think, in an effort to help others and be open to their feedback so that we can both engage in dialogue and learn more from each other (something I think our world is sorely lacking these days). Thanks again! :)
But my understanding is the observer’s ID does count toward the two needed IDs. I have mentioned elsewhere i would love if my IDs of my own observations did require 2 other confirmations To become Research grade because i am a Beginner. I am conscientious about research but i think I am still at the introductory level and likely make mistakes. I also find that if I ID at a species level i get confirmations quickly, but things slow down if i leave the ID at genus or family, etc.
If having the DQA flag “if can still be improved” causes the observation to stay in Needs ID… then wouldn’t the observation just be stuck in Needs ID indefinitely until people specifically outvote that flag in DQA, whether it gets more IDs or not? Or maybe I just don’t know how that flag works, heh.
Yes, once another ID is added, the thumbs up can be removed (or someone else can thumbs down it).
If it were my observation I would bookmark it or make a project to put it in, so that I would be reminded to check for a new ID periodically.
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