Species-Searching Research Repository

One of the most rewarding experiences of iNat comes from being able to contribute observations or identifications of a species new to the platform. To seek out these new species, I often will try to research available information on some of the possible new species when visiting a new location.

Although there is often extensive information available on these species (e.g. for Idiostatus kathleenae, I found micro- and macroscopic identifying features, detailed description of type locality on public land, specific dates observed/collected, song description, preferred host species, separating features of sympatric congeners, etc.), this information is usually behind paywalls, found in old volumes of niche publications, or spread across several sources or hundreds of pages within a single publication.

Because finding this information often takes a lot of time and effort, it seems wasteful not to be able to share it with others, especially when I am unable to pursue/successfully observe the species in question. Is there any interest in creating a repository where iNatters can share their compiled information on how to locate and identify particular species, especially those for which there are no current observations? If so, what would be the ideal format? A dedicated forum thread comes to mind but there are probably other good alternatives that could be more easily searched through and organized.

P.S. As a caveat since I anticipate this topic coming up, specific locality info should not be shared about sensitive species.


i think this has sort of been discussed in other threads. these are probably most relevant:

some selected staff comments from those threads:


Thank you for linking all of these. I saw most of my thoughts reflected by the discussions, and I think it’s clear that the staff support the idea of possibly implementing ID/species-finding discussion within the iNat framework, though functionality takes precedent for the time being. In the meantime, I think I will use the following:

  • Research can be shared by creating guides of species to be looked for in a specific location/region, with comments made on the ecology, locality info, and ID details for each taxon. Alternatively, this can be done in a journal post (or journal posts can index guides/other journal posts). This works for making the information available but is not as interactive or as easily accessible as I envisioned.
  • For a more interactive format, I think the discord is likely a better venue for sharing and requesting this type of information, especially the ‘id-help’ and ‘trips-and-meetups’ channels

see https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/identification-comments-that-i-gone-and-done for a great example of this kind of repository

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