Stage of life: Dead or Biological waste

#1

** Please note**
For convenience, I’ve edited this original post to incorporate the excellent suggestions which followed afterwards.

I’d like the ability to make it clear that I’m identifying a carcus or skeleton for identification purposes.
This could be achieved by adding the following options to the existing Stage of Life list:

  • Adult, Juvenile, “Dead”, or “Uncertain”.

I’d also like the ability to make it clear that I’m identifying a snake skin, animal tracks, an empty chrysalis, faeces or feathers.
Thus, for situations where a user selects either “Dead” or “Unknown”, an additional drop down list of options could be made available to the user.

This new list could allow the user to specify whether the organism:

a) ** “Was present at the moment”, or “Had evidence of past presence”**

If the user selects “Had evidence of past presence”, another drop down list could be made available, allowing the user to broadly specify which type of evidence the organism had left behind, ie:

b) ** “Tracks”, “Excrement”, “Hair”, “Feathers”, “Skin”, “Tracks”, “Faeces”, “Shells”, “Nest/mound”, “scratch/teeth marks”.**

Thank you

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#2

Yes please. “Alive vs dead” and “present at the moment vs evidence of past presence” is important. (Using observation fields for such universal values is not ideal.)

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#3

I agree, this would be very useful. Perhaps the “biological waste” could be expanded to include tracks / other sign as well?

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#4

I totally agree with @henrydelange and @graysquirrel.
It would be fantastic to be able to use a filter to compare observations of other animal tracks in the area.

(Please up-vote if you support this proposal)

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#5

I know fields are not as useful as annotations but just in case anyone doesnt know there are fields like this. i use this one, there are probably others. https://www.inaturalist.org/observation_fields/24
Wow, field 24!

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#6

Man, I learn something new every day. My two cents worth on this issue is that biological waste should not even be in the lexicon of this site. I have a bit of a medical background as well, and biological waste connotes something that is potentially hazardous that needs to be disposed of in a special way, so as not to not contaminate other humans or organisms. Think about an amputated human limb from a person with Nec Fasch. That is biological waste. It gets a little tricky if one were to photograph a dead cow with “Mad Cow Disease”. It is also biological waste, but it could easily be covered by ‘dead’, possibly diseased. None of the examples given above is biological waste.
Ian

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#7

Just to follow up on the other half of the question, dead is intentionally excluded from the stage of life as you can encounter a dead juvenile or a dead adult etc.

Adding it would mean the annotation had two separate biological concepts conflated with each other - stage of development and alive / dead.

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#8

Point taken.
The more I think about it, the more I feel @henrydelange has hit the nail on the head.

Two new drop-down fields are needed:

1) “Alive”, “Dead”, or “Uncertain”.
2) “Present at the moment”, or "Evidence of past presence"

If the user selects Evidence of past presence, it would be beneficial to allow them to select “Tracks”, “Excrement”, “Feathers” etc etc from a drop down list.

Recording such data would allow people who have particular expertise in identifying animal tracks to run a filtered search for these sorts of observations.

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Let's Talk Annotations
#9

I think one side of this is just the problems with fields. There are fields for all of this but they are underutilized because they are fraught with duplicates, bugs, and other issues. I think instead of trying to capture every important aspect of an observation with annotations, we should just fix fields. I think at this point curators should be the only ones to create fieldsand they should be standardized and merged,but in a way that merges the data and doesn’t break linked projects, which requires admin help or at least some better tools. Then we can move towards ‘suggested fields’ that can pop up based on taxa or maybe on user preference (for instance i would love it if ‘natural community’ was always a ‘suggested’ field because i use it a ton. Others don’t use it, so maybe i could have it in my preferences as default suggested.)

Note: i can’t keep ‘fields’ and ‘annotations’ straight at all. Changing the names might be a good idea. Maybe ‘default fields’ and ‘optional fields’ or something like that. Anyone else find it super confusing?

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#10

I would recommend maybe updating your original proposal (and note that it’s been updated) so people don’t have to scroll down to here to see your refinement.

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#11

Will do, thank you

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#12

I’m afraid I still don’t understand your edited entry. It still seems like you are asking for the Stage of Life annotation to be changed so that it no longer covers a single biological concept.
Under your proposal if I find a dead chick that fell from the nest, what takes precedence for entry juvenile or dead ?

Would it not be better to either:

  • get a new annotation for alive/dead and or one for presence (with the caveat the development team has historically said they are uncomfortable adding new annotations, especially ad hoc, not as a result of a complete review of what they should cover)

  • as was raised in a separate thread, consolidating all the existing alive/dead variations of observation fields into a single one

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#13

Agreed that having “Dead” as an option for Life Stage would not work, it would have to be a separate alive/dead category. I’m not particularly convinced that it would be an improvement over a dead/alive observation field.

I also think that a way to categorize individual photos would be the best way to note scat, track, etc, I believe that’s a different feature request.

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#14

having this as an annotation might be cool.

But in our area we find the projects work very well.
https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/skulls-skeletons-s-afr
https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/spoor-signs-s-afr
https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/scats-dung-s-afr
https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/roadkill-s-afr
https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/powerkill-s-afr
https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/strandings-s-afr
https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/illegal-harvesting-s-afr (beware graphic images)

The advantage of projects over observations fields is that they are easy to remember and fun to use.

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#15

Since alive/dead/uncertain and present/evidence of past presence was requested at the main Annotations thread, I’m going to mark this feature request as closed and recommend any other specific annotations to be added/converted from observation fields be brought up there.

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closed #16
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