Uploading Different Observations of the Same Specimen for Different Life Stages


I came across this confusion while observing the life stages of a Tawny Coster. I uploaded the life stages separately as different observations for the same specimen.
It seemed absolutely fine until I realized that doing so was actually largely affecting the numerical strength of the species present in the area, as specified by iNat.
In short, is it fine to upload the observations for the same specimen through its different life stages separately, even if it affects the number of specimens of that species observed in the area?


This is my own position on this:

iNat observations don’t record EVERY individual amongst a population so the “count” is already inaccurate. Therefore the effect of your doubling up on the qty data is negligible. It is still a good idea though to make your data as accurate as you can (within reason).

Statistical analysis can be used to extrapolate off the data, even with your double ups present. This concept is best illustrated with the “Wisdom of the Crowd”, and there are a number of good explanations/illustrations of that if you google search the term (here’s one, the BBC did a show called The Code with an episode on this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iOucwX7Z1HU ).


I don’t get it! Observations of the different life stages of an individual are just a special case of observations of the same individual at different times, which is perfectly fine as far as I am concerned! Observations are “species at place at time”. As long as all three variables aren’t the same, there is no question of a problem, surely! iNat does even allow observations of the same species at the same place and same time but by different observers! I find that a bit questionable. I have often considered uploading observations of the same plant every week for a year, in order to illustrate phenology in something like time lapse fashion! I’d be extremely skeptical of anyone trying to use iNat data for quantitative studies! The only way you could do that would be to set up a very structured project and just analyse the data within that project.


As per others, no problem at all with multiple observations of the same organism over time.

[NB You may find it useful to add an observation field like “observation group” or “Similar Observation Set” to each observation, so that you can view the observations as a group. Eg see https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/using-the-field-similar-observation-set-for-linking-observations-of-lepidoptera-when-raising-on ]


I did miss the “over time” aspect of lifestages, so my apologies for somewhat off the mark reply…