Species Guides - to create or not to create?

We have built up 10 years of biodiversity data for our region and our Moderators have created really useful species guides to what lives here. We would like to copy these into iNaturalist, but have been told that the platform is not encouraging this and the software may not be supported in future.

We don’t understand why this might be the case, as to have the best local photos of local species to help people identify what they find, seems to us like a no-brainer. It also promotes the great images of our contributors who take pride in having their images as part of our resources.

I will be keen to hear what other iNaturalist people think as we don’t know whether it is worth setting the species guides up if we won’t be able to build on them over time. But if not in iNaturalist, where do other people have their species lists so everyone can refer to them easily?

Best wishes,

I am not at all sure, but you can create guides and they are super useful. Plus: you can edit and build upon them. It takes a long time to research and write, but it is worthit.

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Hi @libbyhepburn

was just searching for information on guides and happened on your thread.

Had just realized that this is a feature and is not being “developed” further by Inaturalist , but can still be used to create guides. (Like this is just created on the Butterflies of Uttarakhand (India - Himalaya)

I, also, think it is a really valuable feature. Some one asked me so what butterflies can be seen nearby and I told them the tools on iNaturalist are easy to use to filter to chosen taxa - but that facility (of selecting and filtering) is not everyone fortes (restricted by language, slow internet and navigating apps) - so had created a guide that I felt we could share and tell people. (a related question on enabling offline guides is being posted as well)

Also agree with you about being able to showcase the best local photos - both some familiarity the the geographic backgrounds and encouraging people to contribute their best.


I think @libbyhepburn maybe referring to the creation of guides based on taxonomic filtering (and associated photographs) rather than a field guide / traditional print guide. I maybe wrong though

Hi Libby,

I haven’t experimented with iNaturalist species guides, but your question is interesting. I do like the iNaturalist concept of species guides for local areas which curate the knowledge on one group, one environment or habitat.

I live in the UK. I just went through a set of underwater pictures which I took in Brazil in 2006 with the intention of adding the photos to iNaturalist and developing my fish identification skills. I found that I could use iNaturalist as an identification guide, together with Fishbase. Strategies I used were to: 1. check which order or family I thought the fish belonged to; 2. check which fish (in that group, expanding if initially unsuccessful) were recorded from Brazil in Fishbase; 3. select that rough ID/name/family/order in Explore module of iNaturalist; 4. zoom into the area where I was and select the bounding box; 5. view all records as grid view; 6. select Species to show just one photo per species. This seems to me to be a good way to learn a new area and new group. The same strategy was effective for most of my starfish photos. I think I’m an image person, not a text person, and I’ve never found textual guides very useful for identification.

So, without actually seeing your guides, could what they do for people be done in some sort of interactive or guided way, using the other iNaturalist modules? I must confess that I’m also a fan of Wikipedia, which iNaturalist uses for species accounts (assuming a Wikipedia page exists) so it can provide a lead to the relevant literature for each species. I wish there was an explicit link to WoRMS for marine species taxonomy, but Wikipedia species pages often have a taxonbar at the bottom which connects to other resources.

So could the elements of your local guides be used to complete or create image and text resources elsewhere? Could the information be used to create or improve Wikipedia pages?


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You also can add journal posts to one major project you have or will create, so guides or links to them will be in one place.

I’d love to see complete identification information for every species on the “About” tab. And diagrams and photos or a series of photos of expertly identified observations/specimens. I’m working on a moth project, and wonder why I have to link to other sites to get basic info? I find myself going to printed guides and linked websites frequently. If mothphotographersgroup or bugguide would merge their information pages with iNat, it would be one-stop “shopping.”

Thanks Beck for your reply. I did think that what we are seeking is probably what lots of people want, but what the best solution is I am not sure. Great to have these respenses to look through. Many thanks, Libby

Dear Melodi, That’s a good thing to remember, thanks, Libby

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Dear Vi, I know you can create guides, but if iNat isn’t supporting them in future, I’m not sure what that means.
Dear Ram, Thanks for your response. I didn’t think we were alone in seeing the need/benefit in local species guides. Perhaps if we knew how to organise and work with iNat better, we would be more confident. Your butterfly guide is very much what we would like to do - we have lots of guides already, but not sure how to transfer the information. We are really looking to have a field guide for each species group. See what we have at the moment: ATlas of Life plant guide - SE NSW Australia
Bernard, I am glad you can see the value of Guides and your approach is different and interesting. When we have our meeting to discuss, we will consider this, many thanks

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