What prompts the automatic addition of a taxon photo?

Just curious, what exactly prompts the automatic addition of a photograph to a new taxon? I created this taxon several weeks ago and have been adding identifications of it fairly constantly since then, and it only just had a photograph added a few minutes ago (quite literally as I was doing identifications!). What causes a photo to be added?

[EDIT - see the better answers farther below - I hadn’t previously noticed that the system automatically adds taxon photos.]

Usually it is not automatic. A community member notices that the taxon is missing taxon photos, but that photos are available (which became the case when you started making IDs of that taxon), and selects available photos to add. See this help item for more information.

Not sure why the taxon history shows iNaturalist as the user adding the photo - I’m pretty sure it doesn’t do this automatically.

The only time it might happen automatically is when an existing taxon with taxon photos is swapped into (synonymized with) a different taxon without taxon photos. In that case the taxon photos from the old synonymized taxon get transferred to the new taxon.


iNat does now have an automated process that adds photos to a taxon when the first observation of it is posted. I’m not sure if it needs to be an RG observation. I’ve seen it happen about 24 hours after the first observation is added. In this case—creating an new taxon with 1,000+ observations—I’m not sure how the automated process would select an observation to pull photos from.

However this process works, it’s fine to add, move and reorder photos to better reflect the taxon, and any iNat user can do that.


This was my understanding as well, which is why I was confused when it only added a photo after several weeks

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I believe it does need to be RG, which likely explains the delay in this case [edit to add: that doesn’t expalin this case, see next message]


Yes, it does need to be RG (and yes, the delay is one day), but that doesn’t explain what happened in this particular case – there wasn’t an observation that became RG one day before the photo was added.

Another thing that triggers the automatic addition of taxon photos is when you change photos of descendant taxa. In this case, matthew_connors added a photo to C. upoluensis. This caused ancestors to check if they had photos, and since the complex was lacking a photo, it added the first photo listed for C. upoluensis. You can see the matching timestamps in the taxon histories.


I’ve seen photos automatically added after taxon changes. Sometimes I think they’re even from external sources.


Thanks for solving this mystery, and to all for adding your knowledge! I hadn’t previously noticed the automated side of adding taxon photos.


Ahh thanks, that solves it!


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