Question about response time for IDs

Thanks for the link. I’m off to generate stats now!


I checked your plant observations that still need identifications. If I were located in the southeast, maybe I could give a few more names, but I can’t. Getting a genus is doing well with these dormant or early spring plants that aren’t flowering or fruiting. You do have good photos, close enough, but these plants will be more identifiable later in the year.


Wrong question. There are just a few more than 1,100 bird species in the U.S. There are over 21,000 plant species in the U.S. Many of those plant species have very limited ranges. I personally can ID most of North America’s bird species (not sandpipers!), at least in their most distinctive plumage and when well photographed, and I’m not even much of a birder any more! I can’t come close to identifying all the plants, though I do what I can.

Also, people often post plant photos that can’t be identified, at least without intense local knowledge. So many beautiful flower photos with no leaves! When often what distinguishes plants within a genus is the leaves. Although plants aren’t as bad as insects, we often do need to look at small parts that usually aren’t photographed. Frustrating!

During winter we identify the plants we captured in summer, write labels, donate specimens, write papers – all the things entomologists do in winter. (And realize that some areas, e.g. southern U.S. don’t have much winter so the botanists can be busy in the field all year long.)

Therefore, we need more botanists than people who can identify vertebrates, but guess which classes attract more students? Classes in birds, etc. Plants aren’t as popular. So, there are fewer botanists and more species per botanist. It’s not surprising that identification of plant photos on iNaturalist lags behind that in many other groups.


If they can’t be ided to genus they go from “needs Id” to casual grade with “as good as it can be”.
What you described definitely sounds as lack (on iNat).

We have an entire floral kingdom. Flora Capensis. And very few skilled botanists. (But we still won our first Bioblitz last year, in our off season when most plants are leaves and very hard to ID)


Yes, birding has always been more popular than botanizing, at all levels of education and training.

@Zeldalola has all this helped with your understanding of response time for IDs, and the factors involved?


Yes, I agree it’s a lack on iNaturalist, but it results from two things outside iNaturalist control. First, a lack of botanists (compared to people who study animals). Second, a great diversity of plants.


Universities are closing botany departments and teaching biology, or natural sciences. Of which botany is then, merely a part.


That’s an interesting link, which conforms what I suspected. The majority of verified observations are of vertebrates. The %RG of Verifiable drops off sharply once the chart hits invertebrates. On that chart, there are over 11 million plant observations, of which about half have been identified to RG. Similar to insects, although the observations start off at 7 million for that group. I suspect the bulk of iNat users/identifieers are focused on vertebrates. Invertebrates are more likely seen, but less likely identified.

I know that is supposed to happen (with genus level being Research Grade) but I don’t think it does happen in a lot of cases which is why I started that topic about it (Adding an identification and stating that you believe it’s as good as it can be

Yeah, it doesn’t happen asmuch as it could be becuse casual grade feels for people as if the observation is underrated.

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I’ve seen many where it would make to observation research grade (two or more IDs and community I’d as genus level) where no one has clicked that.

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That’s because it’s not always clear if someone can id it to species level, I’m not sure how experts check observations, if I know that they check genus RGs I would mark many things with less hesitation.


Sometimes I try to push IDs forward by adding other people’s observations such as katydids, grasshoppers, crickets, locusts to relevant projects like Orthoptera. Maybe I can’t add anything further to the ID, but often I have the gratification of seeing the mystery orthopteran identified to genus or species level in short while.


Also, I don’t know about the mainland US and other continental areas, but Hawaii gets flooded with photos of weedy alien species. Wading through 10,000 photos of honeybees and cultivated hibiscus to get to something interesting starts to feel like a waste of time after a while.


If you’re mostly interested in IDing native things, you can use the filter introduced=false:

(If the taxon isn’t yet appropriately marked as introduced in Hawaii, you can fix it with these steps:)

To change an existing listing go to the taxon page:
-Click the “Status” tab
-Under “Establishment Means”, click “View” next to the place
-Click the edit button next to “Establishment Means”, make your changes, and click Save

To add a new listing, in the main header search:
-Search for the place of interest, e.g. the state, country, or other place you are interested in, then click “About”
-Lefthand side (scroll down)>View check list page
-Search for taxon where it says “Type taxon name”
-If not on list, “Add to list” and add taxon to list
-Once on list, click “Edit” next to the taxon
-Click the edit button next to “Establishment Means”, make your changes, and click Save


I think,“cultivated” is an important keyword in the response of @kmagnacca The question of OBs of cultivated plants was discussed with some heat in other thread (, but this may be the reason of certain reluctance (and resulting lack) of IDing botanists. If they subscribe to plants in certain area, they also get all the mass of cultivated plants not marked as such. Which may be huge amount in some areas. And I can very well understand that this may be a serious deterrent for IDers especially for the new ones. They take a look and run away.


As far as Italy is concerned, it seems that almost every tourist that uses iNat app cannot resist to potograph and post observations of (obviously cultivated) stone pine grown in Rome. It’s a small world… ;-)


The taxa are marked correctly as being introduced to the area, but someone has to identify it first. If you’re looking for interesting things to identify among the unidentified images, it’s a lot of noise. And yes, as @jurga_li said people frequently fail to mark cultivated things. Lots of these things can also be identified by the AI feature (which tends to fail with native taxa), but people often don’t use it.

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