What are checklists and how are they developed?


I’ve been looking for a succinct explanation of checklists, how they are developed and how they might be used. I’ve not found anything in the regular documentation.

As I’ve stated elsewhere, I am putting together a series of short videos on how to use iNaturalist for teachers and I think the check list function would be useful. I just want to make sure I’m explaining it correctly.

Well, there are 2 different kind of checklists, I’m not sure what type you are asking about. So I will cover both.

there are personal lists. Each user has an automatically created list called their life list. In addition you can create other personal lists. These lists are populated with species you have reported on the site, or you can manually add them if you have not submtted something but have seen it and want to use the functionality to document your life list.

Examples https://www.inaturalist.org/lists/cmcheatle

A word of warning the code that manages these is really old, and does not seem to do a great job keeping them in synch.

Additionally there are place checklists. Every place added to iNat asuming it is enabled for that place has a checklist. Like personal lists these are automatically updated as new submissions come in. Additionally species that are known (or even suspected) to be found in that location can be added.manually. Effectively they are inventories of the species that can be found in that location.

Here is an example of a really well put together checklist that has both the records from site observations as well as manually added stuff. Any user that wishes to do so can add new species to a place checklist.


Place checklists are also used to record the occurence frequency and establishment (native vs introduced) state of the species in that location. They also have very good filtering tools to find species that meet different criteria in that place.


place checklists

You can add different checklists per taxon, e.g. charofytes only https://www.inaturalist.org/check_lists/1581737-Naamlijst-van-Nederlandse-Kranswieren---Charofytes-
I created these lists with the batch option.

Andere Checklists voor Nederland

Checklists voor individuele taxa die hier voorkomen, bv. “Vogels van Netherlands”.

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Thank you. In thinking about the place checklists, is that inventory data crowdsourced? How is that data ground truthed so that banana trees don’t show up on a checklist for North Dakota? (Extreme example, I know)

Is there a relation between a checklist and Identotron?

'‘The Identotron is a tool to help you identify observations based on
%{site_name}‘s check list data. Given a higher level taxon and a place (e.g.
mammals of India), %{site_name} will look for check lists entries matching that
taxon in that place, kind of like a dynamic field guide to the entire
planet. Most check lists are works in progress, but if there’s one
that is comprehensive, i.e. it lists all the representatives of
its taxon in a place, the Identotron will show a notice.’’

Thank @cmcheatle

If I may? Another question? I created a place for my science center. I enable checklists but the checklist was not populated even though observations have been made there. Is it because it is too small? Does a place need to be of a certain size before the checklist is populated?

I don’t know if this is pertinent but I did select South Dakota as the parent place when setting up my science center place. Wouldn’t the checklists from the parent be used to populate the checklist for my science center?

How long ago did you do it ? It can take up to 24 hours to populate, it goes into a queue of background database tasks that need to run, and it depends on how many jobs are sitting ahead of it.

I created it several weeks ago.

To answer your other question, no the parent checklist is not used to populate checklists for places set as children of that place. For example if I created a new place for say a park where I live in Ontario, and it was populated from the Ontario checklist, and I would then get 18,000 species on that park list, many from over 2,000 kilometers away.

OK, then that requires site intervention

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