# What is your Species to Observations ratio?

Hi Forum, I thought it would be interesting to see different users observations to species ratios and how it aligns with how they use iNat. I know some people observe many hundreds of a small number of species, while others don’t repeat many species, and others observe organisms that don’t always get a species level ID.

Mine is .62 that being 1902 different observations at species grade and 3057 observations. Closer to 1 is less repeated species(or observations not at species level), closer to 0 is the opposite. This is due to me not usually making an observation for a common species more than once, unless there is something exceptional about the individual or location, and having many observations stuck above species.

Someone good at math can probably figure out a better way to visualize this relationship and maybe a way to weight the number towards higher observation counts where a higher ratio is more impressive.

Reminder that everyone is different in how they use iNat and all are valid. I’m not starting just another thread complaining about one form of observer or another.

4 Likes

My observation to species ratio is honestly very very bad…

9195 observations, 1074 species (leaf count)

9195 observations, 640 species (project/‘observer’ count)

2 Likes

Mine is about 7,500 species to 48,000 observations, so around 15%. A lot of that comes from using iNat as a learning tool, and learning best through repetition. I also take a lot of photos of things that I suspect I know, but sometimes I’m surprised to learn are something less common. And now I’ve learned something else. I also take a lot of photos of tiny insects that may or may not be possible to ID from photos, like microleps. After that, a good portion of my observations are things that I know what they are, but the CV doesn’t, so I make an observations every time I see one in order to give it more data to work with.

9 Likes

I have 4408 observations. 3451 are to species level or lower, representing 623 species, so my species to total observation rate is 14%. I do like to take at least one photo of every different species or potentially different species I find in the places I go, so I have a bunch of species with multiple observations.

1 Like

I have 4836 obs for 2142 species. (44%)

My highest of a species (Which can only be IDed to genus) is cyclotenus at 19 obs

33 species with 10 or more obs.

According to https://elias.pschernig.com/wildflower/leastobserved.html?user=sebastiandoak I have 251 species where my ob/s are of species with 50 or less total observations.

I do like that inat empowers you to find your stride in whatever motivates you. I am pro whatever gets people connecting with nature, and with so many ways to do that here, I think thats cool. For me, I enjoy learning new species, and also like the self-gamification that wanting to leaderboard species count gives me, in terms of getting me outside, especially when often being in a mood state where finding motivation is challenging. I am quite easily no1 by species in my region, next aim is top 50 by species for the country (NZ).

3 Likes

I currently have 4975 obs of 1024 species.

A lot of my repeats come from carrying out site surveys for fungi where I will record everything see, including the common things repeatedly to give an overall picture of a specific location. I have 1565 observations of 290 species/genus/unknown (0.19)

Or if I go out for a day of birding, I will also try and record every species seen, so I have 2022 observations of only 162 species. (0.08)

This then leaves 1388 observations of 572 species/genus/unknown (0.41) for everything else.

But generally I try and find new and different things to record, although that gets more difficult over time unless you are able to travel a lot to different localities so what I will sometimes do is record the first sighting of something specific each year which then builds up data to show potential changes in timings.

4 Likes

I’ve got 459 observations to 219 species which is about 0.48

I tend to post duplicates, especially for animals and fungi. Most duplicates come from posting all of photos I take while on hiking trips which typically consist of “ooh a bug/mushroom!”

2 Likes

1368 obs
961 sp (but here too I could easily add another 40 from travel archives)

Mostly aiming at my life list for Cape Peninsula sp - where I am at
862 sp
or
813 sp
depending on which list I use.
Aiming at the first thousand … which would be easy if I ploughed back thru my archives. Easier to add what is New this week going forward.

3 Likes

Using the totals on “My Observations” tab, I have 16,955 observations of 5,320 species, a ratio of about 3:1. Mostly moths and plants. I don’t think genus-level or broader IDs are counted in that species number, but I’m not sure. RG observations are 2.6:1 (9,741 obs to 3,721 spp).

It doesn’t bother me to repeat a species. I definitely repeat ones that are new for my yard or patch or if I find them in a locality that is under-surveyed or where they haven’t been reported from. Also if I get better photos than previously.

4 Likes

I’m at 0.56 (3714/6611).

I have also thought about this, usually making it more of a competition than is maybe good lol.

2 Likes

My observations vs. taxa ratio is pathetic: 0.07. The good reason is that I try to make fairly complete inventories of the species at each place I visit. Recording each species at each local park or neighborhood or random stop on the road results in a large number of records for each species. Another good reason is that I try to post the first and last flowering or fruiting for each plant. And since I don’t know what most of the insects are, I have no idea if I posted those before or not so I post them again.

An explanation that’s good for me but not important for iNaturalist is that I sometimes say to myself “Oh, groan. I don’t want to go anywhere! But I need to go out and photo some things post on iNaturalist.”

The bad – no, just not generous – reason for this pathetic ratio is that I just like seeing and photographing things and posting them to share (whether you want them shared with you or not). So it goes.

16 Likes

Looks like I’m the outlier here! I’ve got 1,349 observations of 1,024 species for a 0.76 ratio. But I use iNat to document what species are on our farm, so my goal is species quantity, rather than observation quantity. Occasionally I “cheat” with 2-3 observations for one species if I have, e.g., adult/immature for a relatively rare species, or something like that. It’s mostly arthropods. Someday, when I can take pictures of plants that don’t look like I dropped my camera in a pile of green beans, I hope to bump up that species count significantly.

7 Likes

I currently have 4512 observations of 1719 different taxa. Observations of 955 different taxa have reached RG.
So my ratio is: 0.38 (or 0.21 in case of RG).

As I observe a lot of flies, bees, and wasps, the actual number might be a bit higher.

4 Likes

With 13,685 obs of 2,701 taxa, mine’s at 20%. (I guess it would be a bit higher were it not for my inclusion of ~500 camera trap photos, which are nearly all foxes, hedgehogs, wood pigeons and magpies.)

3 Likes

If that is what you are trying to do then your ratio is not pathetic, it is actually very good.

6 Likes

I’m no math whizz, but shouldn’t it be “Species to Observation” ratio

2 Likes

Indeed. I think many have the perception that only ‘novel’ data is of significant value on iNat; but science is about repeatability, and accurate statistical analysis relies on large numbers of data points.

Data from iNat could only help to support a hypothesis that, say, a particular plant is now flowering earlier than it used to if we have thousands of records of that plant from a particular locality over all seasons and many years. Likewise a single record of a never-before-recorded butterfly in a particular locality is of minimal scientific value, whereas hundreds of such records could really start to show useful trends in changing distribution over time.

In any case, records we are making now might not currently reveal hugely important scientific conclusions today… but they could provide an absolutely invaluable baseline for surveys in 10, 50 or 100 years from now. Just imagine how thankful we would be to our ancestors if they had started iNat a millennium ago and we already had a thousand years of data to play with!

8 Likes

I’ve made a few graphs on an online graphing calculator showing the average amount of species per observation count:

https://www.desmos.com/calculator/88z8zalsne (Including casual observations)

https://www.desmos.com/calculator/qwgzfnblxm (Verifiable obs only)

https://www.desmos.com/calculator/z0id72zjap (RG obs only)

https://www.desmos.com/calculator/labvyvssep (Verifiable, to species level)

You can put your observation and species counts (include casual, needs ID, and/or RG observations depending on which graph) into the table and see how you compare to the average. I’ve already put my stats in, and it looks like I have less species than the average person with a similar observation count to me. However, that is all that means. It isn’t really a metric of how valuable your observations are, but more like a fun comparison.

11 Likes

(Going based on the My Observations page) I have 20,456 observations with 2,545 species, which makes my ratio .12. I try to stay above .1 but with how I observe things, it’s kind of hard. I like to go mothing a lot and end up with over 150 observations each time I do, but it’s usually the same things over and over (Phalacridae, Chironomidae, etc.). Although as the Summer goes on, different things do start to come out, I’ve noticed an increase in Mycetophagidae in the last week. With my strategy though, I also end up observing a lot of what I call iNat Missouri firsts. I’ve also had a couple iNat firsts. In the end though, the most important part about iNat is having fun, so whether your ratio is .01 or 1, if you had fun then it’s a good ratio.

1 Like

Love the graph. Here’s mine:

2 Likes