Scientific Photography

I think the discussion @jdmore linked is an excellent resource for this but long. To mention a few key points:

iNat can be used for uploading some research specimens, but isn’t intended for large scale digitization of scientific collections.

One issue with scientific collections being added to iNat is that many collections are already linked to GBIF, and, as iNat RG observations are added to GBIF as well, they may be “double-counted” in any analyses based on that data.

If adding observations from collections occurs on an occasional basis it’s probably ok, as long as the rights issues are addressed. Good examples might be particularly valuable observations, adding species not currently represented on iNat, etc.

If the collection you’re talking about is a personal collection not included in any institutional collections, I would guess it would be ok to make an account for that collection and post observations from specimens it to a limited extent, but it is kind of an “off-brand” use of iNat, as the focus of iNat is really documenting interactions between people and other organisms in nature.


Some would disagree. Compare, for example:
@kitty12, @mftasp


I already added, you can add your photo and it will be a casual observation. Other way it’s ridiculous, let’s make our life lists from collections! Spend day at local collection and get a thousand species, come on.

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That’s right. Of course, the specimen’s location MUST be the one stated in the collection labels.

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In my case, I work in very remote places in the Ecuadorian rainforests (sometimes the Amazon or remote places in the Galapagos). It is not possible to upload pictures in the field, as there’s not internet connection or cell phone access in such zones. In the case of fishes, for example, we took pictures of the specimens, but we didn’t take them back to the museum as we can’t carry much weight. Sometimes it’s hard to take pictures of the specimens alive, because we have to use traps to collect them (that’s the case for many beetles that you usually don’t see in their normal niches). So we collect them and the only chance we have to take pictures is right after the specimen has been cleaned and mounted.


That’s an example


Yes, that is ok, as long as you are photographing something that you saw earlier in the field, and the date and location on the iNaturalist observation reflect the field location and date.


By the way, as there are no physical specimens in the museum, this data is not going to be duplicated in GBIF.


Yes, too bad your collections can’t be permanently preserved as scientific specimens. But I understand the field rigors and limitations you must be working under. For posterity though, I hope you are able to post/preserve the photos and data in more than just one place (iNaturalist).


The question was, however, whether posting pictures of museum specimens is permissible, and not whether someone might find that distasteful. And by the actions of the users, it does appear to be permissible.

It’s not about it being distasteful, you can’t upload them and have them being RG, nothing more. OP asked about their own observations, so it’s not about someone else’s collections anyway.

This flag was specifically addressing whether the observer had the rights to upload this image. The observer stated that this was a specimen in a private museum. The specimens have been set out on a table (they are not in their original housing) and a ruler placed next to them, strongly implying that there was permission for them to be photographed.

If uploading museum specimens is not allowed, why are we turning a blind eye to the many observations of fossils in museums that keep causing me no end of headaches as a taxon curator? :wink:

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Thanks. That was the point – uploading of pictures that the observer took themselves regardless of the status of the specimen is OK despite the protestations of some.

It was said it’s not possible to upload them as verifiable records if they wasn’t not collected by you, that’s why museum records cause headache, not that you can’t physically add them.

It’s actively endorsed by the users, not merely physically possible.

iNat is a place for uploading observations of one’s own encounters with wild organisms, it’s for recording and sharing personal experiences. The fish examples that @gustavomorejon mentions seem fine to me, but please use the date and location of collection, as others have said. A personal insect collection of insects you collected would also be fine.

iNat shouldn’t be used as a place for uploading museum collections, there are other platforms like iDigBio for that purpose.


That’s right. I don’t think that iNat is the right place to store all the museum collection photographs for several reasons. One is to avoid duplicates at GBIF, for example. More of the Museums around the World export their data to GBIF, and if two records of the same specimen are recorded … we’re in troubles at GBIF.

Thanks for the help !!!

Does the same apply to camera trap data? Should we be holding off on uploading camera trap images until something like Wildlife Insights is ready for prime time?

Camera trap photos are somewhat of a gray area, but they’re fine to post on iNat. They should be images from camera traps you put out, however, and I think people should be prudent in not posting 20 photos of one coyote walking past the trap for an observation. Again, observations should really reflect your personal experience. iNat is not primarily a repository for data, it’s a social network that generates data. It should be about “here’s what I saw,” “here’s what I heard,” “here are some cool things recorded by the camera trap I set up,” and so forth.


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