Tagging observations


I’ve compiled a list of observations of trilliums infected with phytoplasma:


What is the best way to tag these observations for searching purposes?



Creating a project and manually adding those observations to it would probably be your best bet. I think that’s the only way to really categorize observations from other users while keeping it on the site.


Check to see if there is an observation field you can use, even something general like infection, or Infected with, and add it there, or even create a new one, and put it there.

Much better than doing a project, as it is structured, exportable data. Sorry normally I would look for one as a hint to use and share it, but on day 9 of being locked out due to the Google issue.

A small percentage of users will block allowing other users adding observation fields, but it will be small and you can message them to ask them to do it


Maybe try asking authors if they can make a duplicate observation wirh pathogen?

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probably the most useful would be:
which allows you to add an iNat taxon as the infecting agent. You can then click on the fieldname to search on all observations having this field (anything infected by anything), or just a given species having this field (species infected by anything). or even observations of a given species having this field and a given value (species infected by species).

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I like the suggestion of using projects. I’m planning to count Trillium in my area and I didn’t even know there was a pathogen I should be trying to observer too. A project would grab my attention in this case. I would comply if there’s a further explanation on the project to tag an observation for a special trait.

Speaking of Trillium and projects, here’s a shameless plug for my project, a Big Year 2020 orchid hunt.

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You can export all observations from a project. E.g. export like: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/export?projects=flowering-plants-of-ethiopia

Sadly I don’t think you can specify an observation field as a filter for inclusion in a collection project, as that would be a nice easy way to combine both ideas.

Thanks for the suggestions so far. I’m guessing that an observation field should do the trick.

The abnormal greening of plant parts (virescence) that one observes in Trillium species (and presumably other species) may be caused by Phytoplasma, I don’t know, but even if that turns out to be true, it would be difficult to identify the causul agent. AFAIK, this has been done only once: http://dx.doi.org/10.5197/j.2044-0588.2016.034.019

So I think it would be more useful to tag the observations by symptom rather than by cause. In that case the observation field doesn’t need a parameter, a simple tag that signifies “this observation exhibits virescence” should do the trick. Actually, one tag for each possible symptom would be ideal.

By way of comparison, I’m looking for something analogous to the “plant phenology” annotation:

Plant phenology: flowering, fruiting, budding

Plant pathology: yellowing, greening (i.e., virescence), foliating (i.e., phyllody)

There is an existing field called “phytopathology” (https://www.inaturalist.org/observation_fields/10660) but the field value is open-ended, which is error-prone. Is it possible to define a field that specifies a fixed set of explicit values? I see that the “text” datatype takes an optional set of “allowed values” but I can’t find a specific example to see how this works in practice.

Thanks again,


Aha, something like “fish disease symptoms” may do the trick: https://www.inaturalist.org/observation_fields/27

Comments welcome.

There’re fields with choice of “answers”, if you create your own one you probably can set it (and from what I read on Dead Birds you can edit it later).

Have a go at creating one, and then experiment with using it. You can always delete it after your tests. Basically, have your list of allowable values and seperate each item with a pipe (vertical bar) character. The create field page defaults to text type, and has an example:

Allowed values
Separate values with a pipe, e.g. “1-5|6-10|a lot” or “yes|no|maybe”

you don’t need the quotes of course!

When you select that field on an observation, you will be presented with the list from which to select from. The field “Sex” works as an example, but that fish example given above is much closer to what you are wanting to create.

The field system is completely “unregulated”, which is both advantage and disadvantage. Feel free to experiment :)

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Thanks, I did that:


So far this pretty much does what I want except for one thing: I can’t assign multiple values of the above field to a single observation. Am I missing something or is that a known limitation?



yeah, it’s one only at a time. If there were known combinations, you could itemise them out. So if it were a choice of A|B|C|D and you could also have A+B or A+C, then make the list A|B|C|D|AB|AC

I was afraid of that. So is there no way to replicate the functionality of “plant phenology”? Should I move this over to Feature Requests?



If it’s a feature you would like to see implemented, then definitely raise it as a feature request :)

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