What do you record in your observations?

I’ve thought about adding to my observations to be more specific about the conditions I observed the creatures I’ve documented in. This would include temperature and time. Do you think this is a helpful thing to add? What do you yourself add when you record things other than location?


i was just thinking about and looking for an appropriate “weather” observation field to use (https://www.inaturalist.org/observation_fields?utf8=✓&q=weather&commit=Search). but there are so many out there that i’m not sure if any one of these is the right one to use. (i was wondering specifically if emojis like :cloud::partly_sunny::cloud_with_lightning_and_rain::sun_behind_small_cloud::cloud_with_snow::cloud_with_rain::sun_behind_rain_cloud::sun_behind_large_cloud::cloud_with_lightning::tornado::fog::full_moon_with_face::waxing_gibbous_moon::first_quarter_moon::waxing_crescent_moon::new_moon::full_moon::waning_gibbous_moon::last_quarter_moon::waning_crescent_moon::waning_crescent_moon::last_quarter_moon_with_face::first_quarter_moon_with_face::new_moon_with_face::crescent_moon::sunny::sun_with_face::wind_face::snowflake::ocean::parasol_on_ground::umbrella: could be utilized to describe general weather conditions.)

i think in the very long term, someone should connect old weather data with the data in iNaturalist so that all observations get the benefit of weather data (at least in places that have old weather data available).

In my opinion I don’t think emojis would be a good idea. Mainly because it’s not very through. You can post a rainy cloud but that still doesn’t say to somebody collecting research if it was raining hard, light, sparsely, etc.

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I wish more people would write under “Description” what kind of habitat they found the organism in.

For example, with snails and snail shells, it really helps to know if it was in, or very near to, freshwater. A pond, a stream, a river. Or under a log, or whatever.

When I started putting up observations on iNat, I sometimes used to include a habitat shot, but I read that is no good because it throws off what the AI is learning. Pity, because with marine shells on a beach it really helps me to see a shot of the beach.


sometimes a few words are worth a thousand pictures!


i often want to collect habitat data based on the natural communities we have described for our area, so i use a designated field to do that. That also lets you do fun stuff like get a species list by ‘abundance’ by natural community type: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=any&verifiable=any&view=species&field:Natural%20Community=Northern%20Hardwood%20Forest (it is not true abundance since i’m sampling opportunistically but gives a good indication) I wish it were more integrated but with fields, you get what you get.

That’s very interesting about what you’ve said about “habitat shots” (throwing off what the AI is learning) since I’ve been routinely doing that as well. I wonder how difficult it would be to include an optional “habitat” (or whatever) picture slot in the Observation form that would be excluded from data harvesting by the AI?


I don’t think anyone should be worried about what the computer vision is getting fed to learn. But do make sure your “habitat shots” show the actual organism in the photo.


I’ve noticed that central Florida observations of plants tend to have a lengthy discussion of the weather conditions that day, so I think someone there is advising observers to do that. For plants, however, it’s completely irrelevant except maybe for some flowers that open or close with the sun. So a blanket encouragement to add weather conditions doesn’t seem necessary.

Habitat info however is great! My one colleague always makes a note like “Abundant along trail in pine flatwoods.” I love those.


I used to do it, and I still do. To me the habitat forms part of the evidence and identifying characters, so I struggle to think of observations without them!


I can include the organism in the habitat shot, but very often with smaller mollusks (which is most of them) the organism would be so minute in a habitat shot that it wouldn’t be possible to really see it.

That is why I really treasure a good habitat shot – the wider the better.

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That’s one of the things I like about the Korean site 네이처링 [Naturing] – South Korea is small enough that the site pulls in and attaches meteorological data to each observation:


I added that observation two years ago and under the weather tab I can see that the conditions at the time were raining, 27.6’ C, 0.2mm of precipitation, 90% humidity, and 0.1m/s windspeed.

iNaturalist is so large that I doubt that would be an easy undertaking but it’s certainly a useful resource to have available.


Thank you for clarifying this. I continue to be impressed with how good the computer vision is…recent example:


'Just an unusual place (in my neck of the woods anyway) to see a pair of Canada Geese. The photo isn’t very interesting/unusual without surrounding area/context. Although obviously not needed for the ID, computer vision kicked out Ponderosa Pine and Canada Goose as #1 and #2; I was skeptical that the geese would register at all since they were comparatively a small portion of the picture…


Yeah, the computer vision is a mysterious thing, it ranges from ‘how in the world did it get that right?’ to ‘how in the world did it come up with that suggestion?’


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