Quick question. Doesn't the format of the site encourage falsely identifying rare species as common species?

I’m new to the site and have made a little over 30 observations. I live in a location that could easily have some very rare or unobserved species but often when I identify the genus then I feel a pressure to identify the species based on what is most commonly found species around me that visually matches. Often the genus’ have quite a few species without observations. I can pick the common species for my geographic location that more or less matches but what if one of the species with no observation is actually a better match? I feel a pressure to assume that I surely couldn’t have found something rare. Once a false identification has been made then the next user is misled as well. Wouldn’t dichotomous keys for the fussy be a helpful addition?


Don’t feel pressure to ID things to species if you’re not 100% sure it is that species. You can add a comment saying “similar to Species A” but leave the ID at the genus level until somebody with more expertise takes a look at the photos.

Using dichotomous keys would be great if they are available. But in plenty of regions they aren’t


Welcome rose.

There is no pressure to identify beyond what you know. If you know the genus, identify to that level and leave it alone. Don’t ID further based on “more or less matches”. Stop at the level where you know it is correct.


I feel like this situation and the “pressure” would exist in any context of identification where rarity is known, whether it is on iNaturalist or not. Some species are more common, some are more rare. Observers are more likely to see the common ones than the rare ones.

All of that said, if an observer or identifier isn’t reasonably sure it is a taxon, they shouldn’t just pick it because it is the most common. As others have said, it could be best to leave the identification at a genus level or higher - we should all ID to whatever we are reasonably sure of.


ID to where you are comfortable and confident. For taxon specialist a broad ID which is right, is better than pushing back against a wrong ID - if that first identifier does not respond to notifications. You need to be able to explain to someone who asks - why your ID is right, because …


The site uses computer vision. It can provide suggestions which are sometimes accurate, and sometimes not at all. I think as more observations are made, the accuracy of Computer vision may become better.
Another aspect of the site is human identifiers. Since we are humans, errors can occur in the identification of plants and animals occasionally.
Some creatures unknown on iNat, the specimens are in some museums , descriptions are in some articles sometimes in 19th century articles. While some are in books with copyright , and not available in the internet. These books may be in public libraries. There is a possibility that some creatures are unknown to science.
Future users can correct the inaccurate ids or they can follow the wrong id.
In todays world, a lot of organisms are known to science. wikipedia has a list of species in some genus. Several organisations maintain lists of plants, and animals. For plants, it is Plants of the World Online. Check the local University’s listings and resources too.

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Thanks! I’ve been trying to leave uncertain id’s at genus level (or higher). I was just musing about how it would be easy to assume that one has seen the common species and ignore the obscure possibilities.


CV adds species about once a month. Check for a given taxon under About, whether it is Pending or Included. Needs 100 pictures, equivalent to about 60 obs.

Use the internal links to see what species were added to your iconic taxon (filter by location, or not)


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