Reminder: Taxon photos should include multiple life stages

Hi all.
I’ve been adding and editing taxon photos, since I’m anxious and find it soothing.

Here’s a gentle reminder that while the default photo / icon should be bold and pretty, the rest of the taxon photos should include:

  • As many life stages as possible (seed/flower/fruit or egg/larva/pupa/adult etc)
  • A variety of examples, eg not just eight photos of slightly different top-down blue flower closeups for Commelinaceae
  • more than one angle (front/back, habit/above/side)
  • If there is room, a photo or two showing typical behaviour
  • If there is room, a photo showing another item for scale (eg a hand, plant, or ruler)

It is especially important that the first two to four photos be representative of the taxon as a whole because many users will only look at the first few images when eg using the compare tool. And the images that show on the taxon page (first 8) are also important – please don’t force users to dig even deeper to find a single photo of a caterpillar.

also relevant:


Also a reminder that anyone can edit these and not just curators. A lot of users aren’t aware of that and I think it would generally be helpful if they did!


certainly, I encourage all users to add photos from RG. however, if you are unfamiliar with the taxon you may want to leave the existing icon and first photos in place.


I really like to add new photos to taxa, or find new ones on the already existing RG. Also also:

How does one change the normal square of taxon photos to 3x3? Just a question


once nine or more taxon photos have been added, it changes to the grid.

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and if it is IDed as That species because of XYZ, then that should be in a taxon photo.
I also shuffle the order, so the first four each show something useful, then the extra views can follow.

And the full size portrait of a proud angler with a little fishie … doesn’t make a useful taxon photo.


The Identify interface displays two photos in its list of taxa. It’s nice when those two in particular cover as much as possible. If applicable, I find it especially helpful if they are two different commonly found stages or cover a dimorphism, like adult and larva, flower and fruit, male and female. If the beautiful first photo of the flower shows only the upper side of the leaf and green stem, it’s nice to have a fruit image with the leaf underside, other details, like bark, and a wider view.


Pro tip: If you want to add a specific observation photo to the taxon photos, but don’t want to spend endless time clicking the “Next” button until you find it, you can enter an observation’s number into the Search field to see that observation’s photos.


That doesn’t seem to work for me.

I think it is only for genus and higher…

Clarifying language for those in the back…
I understand what a taxon is. But what is a taxon photo? From the context, is it simply the photos we upload to iNaturalist? Do you call it taxon because many times identifications are only to genus, family, order…?

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It is a photo chosen from among those uploaded to iNaturalist (or occasionally from external sources) to best represent a taxon on its taxon page, in the thumbnail images where the taxon name is displayed, in the identification tools, etc. Currently anyone can make or change these choices by going to the page for a taxon, clicking on Curation at right, and selecting Edit Photos.

All ranks of taxa have their own pages in iNaturalist, and each can have photos selected to be representative of that taxon. For example, the sunflower family (Asteraceae) has its own taxon page:

with photos selected to represent the diversity of forms in that family. The first photo showing a typical “daisy-like” flower serves as the thumbnail icon for the family.


‘typical’ as in ?

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no, typical as in ‘usual’/‘standard’/‘normal’ etc


This was very interesting and useful but had to read all the way to bottom to understand! Thanks for posting!


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