Unsure How Places Work?

I recently created a new place on iNaturalist for Davidson College (where I now work) using a kml file. The goal is to provide an easy way for students to contribute to a continuing checklist of the biodiversity of the campus by using iNaturalist. The place creation process went fine.

I can search for the iNaturalist place and this shows up fine (result here).

However, when I go to the Explore tab and try to search for “Davidson College”, nothing comes up (no autocomplete). I can search for Davidson, NC (the town the college is in). When I do this, “Davidson College” appears as a filter automatically to the upper left and Davidson, NC (the town) is represented as the college campus with the outline that I uploaded (this result here). This is actually what would be easiest to show students as they can easily browse observations on the map and get good summary stats for the College. However, there are two issues:

  1. It is a little counterintuitive to search for the town to get the college. and
  2. The town is actually much bigger than the college. Even if there isn’t a town outline, that search should probably return a bounding box or something, like a search for nearby towns does (eg Cornelius).

Am I misunderstanding something about how places work on iNat and/or is there a better way to do this? Thanks!

Long story short, “places” and “locations” are not the same thing.

The search box you’re using is autocompleted by Google Maps, and then iNat will try to match it to a place if possible. This can lead to some funky results.

To search for places, you can either use the specific “place” filter (see below) or just type it into the search bar at the top of the screen. This will only return actual places that have been defined in iNat.


It’s a frequent point of confusion. INaturalist has 2 different sources of locations, one from Google Maps, the other internal to the site.

The ‘location’ box at the top right of the observations search page uses the 1st, where Davidson College may or may not be.

To get to the one you created, click on Filters, then the more filters and then enter it there, and you will find it.

PS - sorry about what our Raptors did to your most famous alum this summer

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Thanks, got it! The filter works well, and then I can just copy the URL and send it to students for direct access.

Thanks for the heads up. I guess the algorithm then just picks “Davidson College” as more likely to be what someone searching for Davidson, NC gets and displays that manually entered location. It’s in the middle of town so this shouldn’t be too much of an issue for anyone searching for “Davidson, NC”.

And yes, not great for Steph (on a personal level), but hoping that Klay and KD both get healthy again. Raps were definitely deserving champs (hope the party was good!), but without Kawhi I think it’ll be a while before they find themselves back in the Finals.

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