What is the most-observed individual organism on iNat?

Maybe you’re their subcriber?

No I’m not a subscriber, I think I’d know. It looks like you are in Russia? That might be why. I sent you a private message of a link to a pdf version. Anyone else that can’t access feel free to message me.

I could read it - from South Africa.

if that’s the criteria you’re using, then i bet the most observed organism would be some power observer who often captures their hands in their photos.


Regarding the Methusela tree in the Bristlecone Pines, the staff keep the identity and exact location of Methusela well hidden, even though it is reportedly close to one of the hiking trails through the grove…so I just photographed every old tree on the trail. Methusela must be in there somewhere!


I’m willing to bet there are some zoo animals that have a lot of entries. I’m thinking specifically of Fiona the baby hippo here at the Cincinnati Zoo. She’s become somewhat of a national icon!

Huh… it opened for me okay.

But not for me.

I would think it’s a weed of some kind. A botanist at the Lady Bird Johnson defined a weed as an unwanted plant.

The question is about specimen, not just species.

I still think it could be a weed. Think of a school in a fairly urban area, that has a class do an iNat project every year. If there is a perennial weed in the schoolyard, you know every kid is going to submit that exact specimen. Probably all from the same angle, just like @sedgequeen 's Monterey cypress. Either that or a (planted) tree in the schoolyard.


Tree is more likely for kids to capture too, school projects’ observations rarely show weedy plants at all, at least from my experience.

This single organism would obviously be a mushroom, and probably Conocybe apala, in every single person’s yard almost around the world.

seems like a contender.

if you’re thinking of this, i don’t think it beats General Sherman: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?nelat=36.53&nelng=-121.93&place_id=any&swlat=36.51&swlng=-121.965&taxon_id=322545&verifiable=any

there are lots of observations of trees in that grove, and some are fairly distinctive. hard to tell, but it’s possible one might be a contender.

nope. only about 20 observations to date: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?lat=38.526&lng=-111.748&place_id=any&radius=0.75&subview=map&taxon_id=54840&verifiable=any

just one observation: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?lat=22.560768&lng=88.286663&radius=0.1&place_id=any&subview=map&taxon_id=54880

no iNat observation yet, though there is a hippo from before Fiona’s time: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=154920&taxon_id=42146&verifiable=any


Not that I disagree it could be a sequoia, bristlecone or something else.
I already knew Pando wouldn’t be it when I looked it up, but your bounding box radius was too small. They say aspen colonies, such as Pando can grow up to 8km and not necessarily circular. You had it at 1km diameter.

When looking around the map, most areas of dense aspen observations are in cities and most likely those are not large colonies but individual ones planted? I don’t know.

Looking out away from cities you can find areas like this in Colorado. Probably not a single colony though.

If there is any large colony in or by any major city, the observation count could by very high.
For example this one is near Winnipeg. 119 observations. Again, I don’t know if that’s a single colony though.

Here is another I just zoomed down to with 77 observations but you should get the point.

from what i can tell, Pando covers 43.6 ha, or 0.436 sq km. a circle with radius 0.5 km would give you an area of 0.785 sq km. that said, my link above does have a bad center point for the colony (based on these boundaries: https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Map-depicting-the-study-area-within-the-Pando-aspen-clone-Utah-USA-Sixty-five-sample_fig1_328351346). so i’ll change the center slightly and bump up the radius from 0.5km to 0.75km to allow for folks viewing it from a slight distance.

if Pando is one of the largest colonies out there, i don’t think the cluster near Winnipeg is likely to be a single organism (since the cluster is many times the size of Pando). if the Wolf Ridge cluster includes one large organism, i still don’t think it’s a contender for most observed organism: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?lat=47.382418&lng=-91.197558&place_id=any&radius=0.75&subview=map&taxon_id=54840&verifiable=any

Another example of “lost bird that gets a lot of photos”, there appears to be a brown booby (Sula leucogaster) that got blown off course and now appears to be stuck in the Nimisila Reservoir near Canton, Ohio. There are 37 records of S. leucogaster from this reservoir (and one from Canton proper that is likely the same individual), and comments from the iNatters suggest it’s the same bird that has been stuck there for over a year. Additionally, the coloration of the bird in these observations is identical, and there is only ever one individual present in each photo.


There are a number of observations of S. leucogaster from this reservoir in eBird as well, which are also probably the same bird.

This actually raises questions about how reliable the data from iNat is. If I were conducting a study using the data from iNat and didn’t know the context of this booby, I might incorrectly assume that there is some isolated breeding colony of S. leucogaster in Ohio given there are 38 different observations of this species from the area, when in actuality it’s the same bird sighted 38 different times over a long time span.


iNat is said to not be used as popalution data resource, so it shows how people are interacting with species, separately from each other. If you really need to see if it’s the same specimen or not you can check photos, and dates of them are not that far apart for a real colony.

iNat is said to not be used as population data resource, so it shows how people are interacting with species, separately from each other.

Right, but researchers actually are using it as a population data resource. There was a study published just this March that tried to use iNaturalist data to test whether there has been a long-term decline in butterfly populations in the American West (https://science.sciencemag.org/content/371/6533/1042), and was mentioned in the forum (https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/widespread-declines-in-butterfly-populations-linked-to-climate-new-study-by-forister-in-science/21040).

Perhaps it’s not what researchers are “supposed” to do, but one thing I’ve learned in science is that researchers will often use data in ways they aren’t supposed to in order to make claims. Sometimes these are novel and exciting (and valid) new ways to look at data, other times they’re blatant misrepresentations of the data collected used to support spurious conclusions.

The other, other thing I’ve noticed is that researchers rarely fact-check data before they do an analysis. In my area of biology we have several big databases and researchers in this field have been caught for years doing analyses without first double-checking the data, resulting in things like taxa being recorded where they never occurred, or species lists being inflated by using record with junior synonyms and invalid names.


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