What free/online resources do you use to help ID what you photograph?

Hello everyone.
A long time ago I made a post about useful Facebook identification groups. For me, those groups are a great resource when trying to ID things you don’t know.

However, there are some flaws: not everyone on that type of groups is a specialist, some people tend to provide IDs even if they’re not sure about it, etc.

So, as a further step on my quest to find good online resources that help ID organisms, I’m interested in knowing which materials do you usually resort to (whether it is a website, a free ID guide made available online or any other kind of resource). This post could be useful for other users in the future, so all recommendations for all taxonomic groups are welcome.

What are your go-to resources?

PS: if you have suggestions on ID guides that may not be freely available online, feel free to suggest them as well

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https://libgen.is/
https://sci-hub.se/
https://scholar.google.com/
https://artfakta.se/artbestamning/artnycklar
https://laji.fi/en
https://bladmineerders.nl/
https://www.artsobservasjoner.no/ViewSighting/SearchSighting

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adding researchgate.net to the list …

but there are so many areas, geographic as well as taxonomic, I guess there must be hundreds of sites out there. I also recommend books for your favorite field. Invest some money and buy a good one, or even better, buy two, it’s more fun to use.

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For plants in the Southern Appalachians and specifically North Carolina, I find the following resources very useful:

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For New England (US) plants, Go Botany is extremely helpful: https://gobotany.nativeplanttrust.org/

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Here’s my list on a journal post: https://www.inaturalist.org/journal/csledge/55746-a-list-of-online-resources
These are mostly specific to Minnesota and North America.

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For lepidoptera I use

leps.fieldguide.ai

Artificial intelligence based, worldwide, the AI is carefully trained, and I find that it gives more accurate results than the iNat cv.

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For many british beetles (and to some extent still useful for the rest of europe), there are these free field guides produced by Mark Telfer and John Walters:

https://johnwalters.co.uk/publications/guide-to-british-beetles.php

And a similar one for Oil Beetles, produced for Buglife:

https://cdn.buglife.org.uk/2019/08/Oil-Beetle-national-survey-leaflet-for-web_5-species.pdf

I’ve also heard about this great website called iNaturalist, where people will help ID your observations. I should really check it out someday.

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I know the request was about free and on-line resources, but I also use books. For all the benefits of internet searching, there are kinds of information that are best absorbed from physical pages. Two fantastic books I use regularly are Botany in a Day (Elpel) and Wildflowers of New England (Elliman).

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Poland / central Europe:
Butterflies: https://lepidoptera.eu/ and https://lepiforum.org/
Beetles: https://baza.biomap.pl/pl/db and https://sites.google.com/view/mikes-insect-keys
Plants: Flora Incognita app on my smartphone

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https://sites.google.com/view/flyguide

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For insects I like BugGuide.com from Iowa State University.

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My website “The Ontario Field Naturalist’s Toolchest” at http://www.ontariofieldnaturalists.ca/ has a lot of books and identification websites listed. It is geared for Ontario, but still useful outside that area. The Facebook group “Field Guide Exchange” lists a fair number of online resources as well.

It’s Bugguide.net
:)

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I use this site for feathers…
https://www.fws.gov/lab/featheratlas/

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For moths, I use the Moth Photographers Group (https://mothphotographersgroup.msstate.edu/). I go straight to “Plate Series”. One of the many advantages is that you can choose a region (i.e. Eastern Canada) or a more discreet area (i.e. Arizona). It is arranged by moth groupings, so I can ignore the microleps!
Each species has links to other sites - of note, PNE Moths (http://pnwmoths.biol.wwu.edu/) which has wonderful descriptions of moths, and what they might be confused with. It is also linked to Bugguide of course (https://bugguide.net/node/view/15740). CBIF is great too (https://www.cbif.gc.ca/eng/species-bank/?id=1370403266204) is good for comparing Canadian Moths, but it is hard to navigate, and is only valid for species recorded in Canada. It also only shows one or two variants. I tend to start with MPG, then go to either Bugguide or PNW Moths.

That depends a lot on the taxonomic groups you are photographing (also on the location). I focus mostly on a single order I’m pretty familiar with but also photograph other animals and whenever I come across an animal I’m not familiar with I resort to… well, iNaturalist.
As for unusual finds I use specialized field guides (books) then cross reference with online resources (mostly WoRMS as I photograph almost exclusively marine species) and consult with specialists either on iNaturalist or Facebook groups (or both).
But, again, it all depends on the taxonomic group you’re photographing.

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One under-appreciated tool within iNat: the “Explore” tab can also generate a visual list organized by species for a specific place. It is limited to species that have been observed and ID’d on iNaturalist, but it can be a good quick overview. For example: all of the Geometrid and Swallowtail Moths in British Columbia. I ended up creating a personal index using a journal page so I could visually sort through the different moth species easier. I found that a nice alternative to the Moth Photographers Group plates.

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Agree. I’ve begun to use that recently to check out moths I’m not sure about. Partly that is because MPG runs so slowly on my main PC (don’t know why), but also it is one keystroke away. If there is any doubt, I’ll dig deeper!

I have a lot of miscellaneous mollusk resources on my iNat profile. In general, Biodiversity Heritage Library is a great resource for finding older literature.

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