What to do when the lead Species Photo is incorrect?

What does one do when the lead photo on a species page is wrong, in the “Needs ID” category, and not subject to “Community Taxon?” It is a common species in Mexico and the Southwest US with over 4,600 observations, and there is evidence folks are misidentifying their observations because of this photo.


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Anyone can edit photos! Go ahead! :D


I think that’s a clear opportunity to improve the taxon photos. To be clear, I know nothing about species ID in Cylindropuntia, but assuming that you are correct that one or more of these images isn’t accurate, it would be great if you can remove the incorrect images and replace them with better ones.

@jdjohnson wrote a great guide about what to choose here: https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/choosing-the-best-photos-for-plant-taxon-pages/9398


Very nice, thank you for the guide Rupert. I imagined that there would be some kind of protocol since the opportunity for abuse is great. Even though I know this taxon well, there are folks who are truly expert and it feels vaguely presumptuous for me to do it.


Thank you @Strawberrytart

For some reason I assumed that the Curation button was for curators. Finding who curates a taxon is another thing I need to learn :-)


Okay, I’ve replaced the first two photos with ones that are correct and illustrate different characters important for identification. I agree with the @jdjohnson guide that too many taxon ID photos are gorgeous, but do little to help folks with the ID.


Another thing to note is the “edit photos” default to research graded photos as the choices for photos, but you can also choose stock images off EoL or Wiki. If you see an image is wrong, that means there is a RGed observation that is wrongly IDed.

It would help to go to the observation of the wrongly IDed photo and change it to the correct one (or back it up to genus), since most of the images come from iNat itself.


It’s my understanding that there aren’t formal (or designated) curators for specific taxa. Anyone with curator status can curate any taxon. For some taxa, there may be an individual who has adopted the taxa and acts as the de facto curator.

The curator guide is here, if interested in learning more about that side of things.


Yes, that’s true. Some iNat users have requested and been approved for curator rights. There’s no distinction among curators and no-one is assigned to handle any particular taxa.

I would suggest that if you have enough knowledge to see things that need to be fixed for Cylindropuntia or another genus or family and you’re willing to take the time to check relevant sources, then you’d be a great curator. You may well think “I’m not an expert on Cylindropuntia”, but you probably have more than enough knowledge to improve iNat.

As @Strawberrytart pointed out, you don’t even need to be a curator to improve the selection of taxon photos, so that’s a great place to start. When you get to the point that you’re frustrated that iNat has an outdated taxonomy, or that it’s showing a strangely incorrect distribution range, or that it’s failing to obscure a taxon that’s vulnerable to poaching, that’s a good time to apply for curator rights!


thanks for this post!! I had noticed the lead photo for Naso annulatus was actually Naso unicornis, but wasn’t sure what to do about it. thanks to this post, ive been able to change the lead photo to the right species :)


@hkibak and others - please also vote for this feature request, and add your support for it in the thread:

Flag or otherwise mark taxon photos whose CID doesn’t match taxon

This would help more people to notice and identify these cases earlier.


I only fairly recently started replacing obviously wrong photos on iNat taxon pages. I think it’s not immediately clear that this is an option available to everyone (which may be a good thing). The one that made me look into it was a common Eastern NA woodland plant with over 60,000 observations on iNat that was illustrated with an obviously wrong image of some cultivated plant in a garden in England taken from Flickr, not even iNat.


… while identifying, it became clear to me that, for example, there is a lack of comprehensive guide books for Neotropical moths, for moths of Central Asia and SE Asia. Therefore, I started adding missing species, their geographical distribution (from literature) and adding old “no-copyright” pictures just for the purpose of helping to ID.

“Checklist” use will show all these species, even if there are no observations on iNaturalist to date. On every observation page (web browser version of iNat) you can use the “compare” button and compare to “checklist” instead of “observations”. This may currently work for the larger moths and entire countries across all tropical areas in this planet. For Russia, Brazil, Mexico, India and China, it also works at province level. Try it out (and pleasee if you find errors). Next Winter I shall continue with more picture material … it’s still ongoing…

As an example, see the preliminary Arctiinae (tiger moths) checklist of Rondônia (Brazil) here https://www.inaturalist.org/check_lists/15357-Rond-nia-Check-List?q=&view=photo&taxon=47606&observed=any&threatened=any&establishment_means=any&occurrence_status=not_absent&rank=species&taxonomic_status=active

You can’t, that link to them is broken long time ago if it ever worked.

Sorry @rayray, I didn’t see your comment earlier.
In this particular case, the observer has opted out of “Community Taxon” and has unfortunately passed. So I couldn’t just message him, and the ID will not change no matter how many other folks suggest a different taxa… it will just remain in the “Needs ID” category along with the original ID.

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