I tried to search for a similar topic, but did not find any.
What are taxa you ID and maybe even find rather easy, but that people often get wrong? Either taxa that seem to be placeholders for anything else or the other way around taxa that are often identified as something else? And what are the taxa they typically get mixed up with in your experience (I know, there is a nice feature that shows those similiar taxa, but only at genus or species level I think?)
I just went through a subset of needs-ID Oecobiidae spiders with 27 pages just clearing out the clearly wrongly IDed and was bringing those needs ID down 6 pages in the end. So about 1/5 of those were wrongly suggested. Interestingly, at least the up-to-date CV did in none of those cases suggest that family.
At least 1/3 of those wrongly IDed specimens where indeed Zygiella spiders, which surprised me quite a bit, as I think they do look very different. A lot of the rest were Philodromidae, which I find more understandable.
Gasteracantha cancriformis (Spinybacked Orbweaver) is the only species of the subfamily Gasteracanthinae in continental North America and South America. G. cancriformis is frequently mis-IDed as other members of the subfamily due to 1. the extreme variability of color and pattern within this species and 2. suggestions from the AI. They are most commonly mis-IDed as Thelacantha brevispina (Asian Spinybacked Orbweaver), Gasteracantha kuhlii (Black-and-white Spiny Spider), and Austracantha minax (Christmas Jewel Spider), among others, and occasionally receive incorrectly agreeing IDs as such. G. cancriformis and Micrathena gracilis are also identified as one another with some regularity.
Here it is, probably https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/computer-vision-clean-up-archive/7281
Too many examples to share.) But 80% of fungi suggestions are wrong and don’t have the right name in the list, it’s only so low because only a fraction of species recieve lots of attention, making cv to suggest at least understandable stuff, but it’s very fluid. I attribute it not only to the likeness of shrooms, but lack of iders, current system is taught on what cv suggested in the previous years, that’s a cycle.
The rosary pea, Abrus precatorius, with its red and black seeds (black around hilum/attachment point and the rest red, like https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/144615842 ) and the red and black seeded species of Rhynchosia (red around hilum/attachment point and the rest black, like https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/136740599 ). Because Abrus is weedy in warm areas around the world, I think people are more familiar with it, and just assume any red and black bean is Abrus. That’s a problem if you live in Mexico, Central, or South America, where there are also red and black seeded species of Rhynchosia. It also doesn’t help that the common names are similar or the same.
Lithobates (for the most part) is pretty easy if you know what to look for, especially on the east coast. Too many people confuse American bull frogs and green frogs without knowing what to look for (dorsolateral ridges/folds). Telling apart many west coast frogs and pig frogs from bull frogs is a different story though.
It’s even worse with species that need a view of the thigh for differentiation, like mink frogs from green frogs or Chiricahua leopard frogs from lowland leopard frogs, which can only be reliably told apart from patterning on their inner thigh. Safe to say, many of those observations can unfortunately only be taken to genus level.
The Mallard can sometimes be a bit tricky to ID. They hybridize often, have 3 closely related species living on the same continent, have been domesticated, and hens look similar to so many other species. Compound that with poor photo quality with a pinch of subjectivity and you’ve got an identification mess! I can only sympathize with the amateur.
Should be better at avoiding suggestions which are wrong for that location. If taxon specialists can tidy up the old wrong ones, it will eventually get better. With less of the fool’s paradise suggestions that THIS has been ‘Seen Nearby’ so choose me.
Male Great and Boat-tailed Grackles get mis-ID’d as Common Grackles very often.
Unlike Common Grackles, which can vary in color ( 1 - 2 - 3 ), male Great and Boat-tailed Gracksalways have the same specific color gradient. They have a dark purple head fading into a blue breast. The lesser and median coverts are always a rich turquoise. Sometimes the greater primary and secondary coverts are as well. The primary and secondaries barely have any iridescence. The tail feathers have a weak sheen that’s more visible when hit perfectly by the sun.
Taking that into account along with other physical indicators of these species should help with faster identification. Basically if it’s not the gradient mentioned above then it’s not one of the larger grackles. Telling GTGR and BTGR apart from each other is a whole other can of worms though…
Brown Rats being presented as Black Rats. I have looked for sites to look for Black Rats and almost invariably a lot of the observations that pop out are mis-IDed Brown Rats. Black Rats are actually quite rare in Europe, much rarer than it looks by iNat search.
Well, I guess it’s a darned good thing that Lithobates frogs, grackles, and ducks all call, isn’t it? (The ducks can sound similar though).
But to answer the question, in North America, the calls of the Eastern Chipmunk, Eastern Gray Squirrel, and Spring Peeper are often misidentified as (different types of) birds. Further, the songs of Northern Cardinal, Tufted Titmouse, Baltimore Oriole, and Carolina wren are also often confused. This is made worse by the fact that many sound observations on iNat are either very distant or short. I feel like there ought to be more guidelines, if there aren’t already, for uploading sounds. May be worth a tutorial…
We recently taught ourselves what we see as the main differentiating traits in the adult phase of the 3 main Cygnus (swans) that get reported to our area:
Mute Swan has an orange bill
Tundra Swan has a black bill with a yellow patch in front of the eye
Trumpeter Swan has an all black bill with no yellow patch near the eye
If the photo includes the bill, we have some new confidence to distinguish the adults using these characteristics. If the photo lacks a clear and well-lit bill, ID beyond genius would be difficult for us.
Yes, so many people forget that many birds can only really be ID’d by their vocals! Tyrant Flycatchers come to mind immediately but I’m sure there’s many others that are only discernible from their voices.
There are some free programs out there capable of increasing the volume of files but I’m not sure how well known that knowledge is. I can think of a few observations I’ve helped with in the past where I’ve had to completely crank my computer to max volume just so I can barely hear the files so I understand how that’d be even more frustrating for users who are HoH or deaf.
eBird mentions how increasing volume of audio files is preferred before uploading and lists some options free and paid for but I can’t say I remember reading anything similar of the sort on iNat’s main Help section. I use Shotcut but that’s more of a video editor. It is still greatly helpful though and does contain a few ways to alter audio including increasing the volume so I highly recommend it for anyone who needs a reliable free application for editing videos and audio files to a degree.
Audacity is free and my go-to for amplifying / editing files. I don’t believe it’s available as a mobile app, but in my experience the sounds recorded on phones are generally loud enough. But I honestly think that if the sound is too distant for anyone else to make out, even if the file is loud, you might consider not uploading it.
And yes, I happen to be HoH and that becomes a real hastle.
All of them? I’d be out of a “job” if people and the CV found it easy to identify Mirabilis multiflora vs laevis, Penstemon procerus vs rydbergii, anything in Chyphotidae or Tiphiidae, etc. The challenge is what makes this so engaging.