Searching "Observations with this field and value" for fields that use a Taxon as the datatype should show children taxa

Hard to word that…

Platform(s), such as mobile, website, API, other: website

URLs (aka web addresses) of any pages, if relevant:
e.g
Nectar Plant = Symphytum: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?verifiable=any&place_id=any&field:Nectar%20Plant=55725
Nectar Plant = Symphytum x uplandicum: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?verifiable=any&place_id=any&field:Nectar%20Plant=181924

Description of need:
Currently searching observation fields that only show exact taxon matches - so searching Nectar Plant for Symphytum shows 6 observations, but searching it for Symphytum x uplandicum gives 17 - but none of these observations show in the first search despite them being very relevant there!

Feature request details:
If you did the above in just the normal Explore search, searching Symphytum will show you both observations tagged as the genus, AND those tagged as the taxons below (subgenus, complex, hybrid, species, subspecies, etc).

I am asking for this behaviour to be added to searching by Observation Field too - that is, the first link should show every observation in the second link, too. This wouldn’t break current behaviour if it was desired because you can restrict search-level (i.e if you wanted just observations where that field was at Symphytum, you could use the Rank filters).

personally, i’m fine with the way the existing observation field filtering works now. observation fields are meant to be sort of a better-than-nothing way of recording extra stuff onto an observation. so trying to add too much functionality here is probably not a great path, in my opinion.

i’m not exactly sure why you want to query data this way, but you should know that GloBI aggregates properly licensed observations from iNaturalist and other sources of data, and it might provide a nicer way for you to query for various interactions between different taxa. GloBI’s search results come with references back to their source observations, too.

if you’re trying to stay within the iNat data ecosystem only, then the way i would handle your case is to get all observations that contain Nectar Plant as an observation field, and then do my own filtering for whatever taxa you’re interested in. this is probably most easily accomplished using some sort of scripting language. for example, the Python-based Juypter Notebook refernced in the original post in this thread could be adapted to handle that sort of thing: https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/whats-the-best-way-to-share-python-code-nowadays/48554.

1 Like

I have thought the same thing myself. My current workaround is downloading the data to excel and playing around with it to show child taxa, but it’s usually not worth the effort.

The one potential issue is that some people do want to look for just Symphytum rather than Symphytum and all its children. Not sure how to best address that.

Some of iNaturalist’s most valuable data are hidden in observation fields, and they should definitely be easier to search and use than they are now. I also think we need to find some easy way to “lump” certain observation fields while querying: for instance, “Nectar Plant” and “Interaction: Visited Flower of” are often used interchangeably, though there are subtle differences in their literal meaning. I’m envisioning something like the range map compare tool that iNaturalist put together.

1 Like

The rank filters should mean the current behaviour would still be possible - so in the Symphytum example, someone could set Rank to “Genus” in both dropdowns, and it’ll show you only observations ID’ed to Genus level:

2 Likes

I hadn’t thought of that, that’s a good workaround.

1 Like

anything is possible, but if you redefine the observation taxon rank filters to also apply or to instead apply to the observation field taxon, that’s a very ugly half “solution” to a problem (since there will potentially be cases where you will want to control rank filtering on both observation taxon and observation field taxon, in different ways), in my opinion.

on the other hand, if you add a set of rank filters separately specifically for observation field taxon, then you’re creating something that’s useful in only a very small number of observations (a very niche case).

1 Like