Reobservations…is it useful to post observations of species I have posted previously?

Is there value to the community to post observation of species posted by me previously. I tend to just post one observation most of the time, but it seems repeat observations could be useful data.


It is useful. Please do so :)


Yes certainly, for some species! There are species of moths that may only fly 1 or 2 months out of the year, and other species that fly nearly year-round. That type of phenological information is greatly aided by repeat observations, especially if taken in survey or census model of documentation.

The large oak tree in my backyard however probably only needs the 1 record.


I have even posted two observations of the same tree :) why not? Maybe some reseearchers want to know how trees grow or get old. I wonder how we can group together different observations of the same individual on iNat


Sure! I think that there can absolutely be community value in these observations.

Also, if you find them valuable or of personal interest, that’s good enough too.

That said, the community might not want an observation of the same individual plant every day in perpetuity, but there no issues with multiples of the same species.


There are some Observation Fields (“Associated observation” is one) that people can use for this. Sometimes people also just add links in the notes


Something to consider in regard to this is your purpose for using iNat. Are you looking to contribute valuable data for research? If that’s the case, multiple observations of the same species or even organism can be beneficial in tracking things like when flowers bud/bloom/etc, or when migratory birds appear in and leave an area. If you’re using iNat more as a personal learning tool and want to familiarize yourself with a species, observing it multiple times to reassociate its appearance with its name in your mind can be very helpful. There’s also the matter of profile observation count. If you’ve set a personal goal for yourself to reach, for example, 2,500 observations in x amount of time then every observation counts! So regardless, I would consider it to be useful. :)


Speaking of this topic…I have taken photos of the same species(and same individual) hundreds of times. There is probably one plant I have taken a photo of at least 10 times, maybe 15.


Why so many people have this question? Does iNat need to state it somewhere more easily seen?
You post your observations of a specimen, not species really, you can upload 500 specimens of one species you saw in one day, or the same specimen today, tomorrow, week later. There’s little additional info from posting the same specimen of a plant, it’s better to find one 5 metres away and photograph it to show changes throughout the year, that’d give better representation of a local population, and would make more sense for iders who need to id your 500 oaks or something.


Up to a point. When I see twenty observations of the same species from the same person in the same place within a short time, I have my doubts – there are other threads discussing that iNat is not a suitable platform for gaging abundance.

Please don’t post 500 oaks. At least not all on the same day. Even if I could identify them all, I’m not going to, because too may of the same taxon in a row ticks me off, unless I am specifically filtering for that taxon.

If that’s the case, best post observations that might lead to new knowledge. We already know, for instance, that variegated croton is ubiquitous throughout the tropics wherever there are gardens, and that it comes in a plethora of colorful varieties. I doubt there is research value in the 75 observations I have identified as that species; whatever new discoveries there are to make about variegated croton are not going to be made with iNat.

Now, the distrubution of a salamander or snake, especially if it has been neglected by researchers, is another matter.


Post lots of observations of the same species, even the same individual! These help our understanding of the timing of events (migration, molt, flowering, etc., even local extinctions).

If you post the same individual multiple times, it can be helpful to put a note or comment linking each observations with the others. (This is not required.)

I suppose it’s possible to post one thing “too often” (compared with what we identifiers would like to see) but you’ll probably get bored with it long before that happens. Post what feels good to you. What really matters is that the photos be identifiable and have accurate location and date.


Well, it’s you, not other iders, I’d rather see 500 different oaks than the same one twice.


Maybe a feature of iNat would be that, if someone upload multiple observations of the same specimen, the IDs of each observation is shared with all the other observations? I mean, you only ID a specimen, not an observation. Is it possible?

If now you add links to other observations of obs. field, many iders will come through all and id them, though some people see it differently, I definitely would id all even if needed characteristics are not seen on every observation.

if the 500 oaks are IDed as Quercus by the observer - then identifiers can filter for that and (choose to) work thru them. I would also Mark as Reviewed, Next - if that came up on my Unknonwns.

1 Like

Yes, I think it is, if recording Species in the wild, can give some idea of population numbers…particularly Fauna.

That raises the important but vexed issue of absences. Sometimes what you don’t see is as important as what is. But it’s really dodgey trying to document this, and there are all sorts of reasons that we don’t see things that are (or not) present. I tend to write little context essays in my ‘comments’, but most people don’t.

For instance, how do I document that there are still no feral goats 3 years after a drought ended? Take pictures of ‘no goats’? But that info is critically important in understanding the recovery (or not) of other biota in the area. The other approach is to take images of eg grass, that nobody will ID, but to comment ‘unusually prolific because of no herbivours’.

What’s the purpose of iNat? How much data can be extracted from it?

1 Like

You set up a trip, put goats into goal species, and in the end trip shows you 0 goats found.

Purpose of iNat is to connect people with nature, while documenting biodiversity they personally meet, so collecting data on species not seen by users is not in the goals of iNat.


Lack of observations, when it really means lack of organisms, is important but it is hard to find a way to post it. Perhaps make a comment on the last observations of that species, saying something like, “As of [date] I have not seen another one in this area.” And or include a note on all the vegetation photos saying “More vigorous than usual, probably because species X hasn’t been seen here since 2018.” This doesn’t show up for researchers as well as an actual observation, but it may be read by people looking carefully into the changes.

1 Like

Yeah, i doubt iNat will ever adopt measures of absence. It is very hard to track this sort of data even in academic-level ecology studies, especially with animals that roam around the landscape. Even with plants, with defined plots where we lie out a tape and note every species we can find, i am reluctant to cite evidence of absence. Seasonality (ie by the time most sedges can be identified most violets can not any more because the flowers are gone), factors like animals chewing up plants that may later resprout, and of course human error all play in. Not to mention presence of seeds. For fungi which are only identified by their fruiting body documenting absence isn’t possible without DNA analysis of soil and even that only proves absense for the soil itself. For the example of invasive goats, i’d set up a collection project with both goat sightings and sightings of some of the plant species that are very sensitive to goat browsing. Then you can note that as goat sightings stopped, sightings of Goat-Hating Spiranthes or whatever increases. You can also make a field for Goat Hating Spiranthes observations: “evidence of goats on landscape” with options of Lots, Sparse, and None or something like that. You can’t prove goat absence, but you can at least offer evidence that goats are not noticed on the landscape any more and plant species that don’t tolerate goat browse are more abundant now.

otherwise it comes down to range and experience. Black gum is only in the warmest parts of Vermont and i can confidently state that aside from possibly some planted specimen that is being tended, there is none in the coldest part of Vermont. Redwoods are absent from the Mojave desert, because their habitat needs aren’t met there and also they don’t occur nearby. Etc, etc.