What's your 'Needs ID/Research Grade' species ratio?

I’m closing in on a thousand observed species and I thought I would check what that ratio is.

481 of my observed species met research grade, 491 haven’t (yet). Pretty close to 50/50.

A little surprised, I guess. When I began last summer, like I suspect a lot of newbies, if I spotted something that I thought was fairly rare to an area, I’d seek out identifiers by messaging them with brief, but polite requests to check out my linked observation.

To their credit, most complied or gave me solid reasons why they couldn’t help and even led me to others who could (and did).

But after a while, I began to feel that I was being too pushy, especially after reading about the unbelievable time commitment that so many identifiers have invested in the effort to stop the backlog’s massive growth. Guilt trip!

I’m okay with that reality, but I sometimes do wonder about what the factors are that affect the ratio in question.

And while I’m okay with the backlog situation, I do wonder what it means to overall participation and member retention rates as well, among the membership.

Has anyone seriously studied that?

And what’s your ratio? And not by observation totals, but by species, please.

Of the species total, how many are RG, how many are Needs ID?


Ratio: 40,003 verifiable observations. 29,778 are Research Grade. So 74% are Research Grade. Now I take a lot of photos of common, easy-to-ID species, and I try to take all the photos necessary to ID. I try to remember to click “as good as can be” for observations that will never make it to RG at species level. I don’t ask other IDers for help very often, but I do ask maybe once every 500-1000 observations?

As to the backlog, I think it’s important to give observers at least a little feedback fairly quickly, so they don’t get discouraged and stop trying to use iNat. Beyond that, I think whatever we all can do, on either the observer or the identifier side, is good.


Of 7552 observations I have 4369 RG and 3104 Needs ID. The numbers won’t quite add up because there’s a few casual grade ones that I need to fix.

I think overall that this is pretty good! There’s many observations that won’t make it to RG for a variety of reasons. My photographs are too low quality. Or I didn’t know to record specific features or information that would help with a species level id. These are things that you can learn and improve on learn over time.

Other observations will stay at Needs ID for a very long time, if not forever. I have a number of observations that simply haven’t been studied and scientifically identified. Some require specialist identifiers that have way too many observations to trawl through if they are on iNat!

When I first joined I was keen to see every observation get an id and reach RG. Over time I’ve become happy to sit back and let the identifications happen as they will. I’ve become more active with identifying myself which overtime encourages more ids on my own observations (not the main reason for identifying but a nice bonus). I’ve also joined more projects which helps as well.

It’s incredibly gratifying to check the notifications one day and find that a bunch of insects that sat at family level for 4 years have all suddenly been identified!


I am just under 60%.

Do you want to increase your ratio ? There are 3 rules :

  1. pictures of birds
  2. photos of birds
  3. bird images

Yesterday as usual I tried to shoot beautiful pics of plants (flowers, leaves, close-ups…), and they got few IDs. And a blurry photo of a bird in a sky, which has been IDed 5 minutes after being uploaded. It makes sense, as birds are often easy to identify and plants can be tricky.

Fortunately, the less an observation is likely to be IDed, the greater the joy when it is. :-) And a big thank you to all those involved in identifying!


Thanks. Can you convert your observations ratio to species ratio?

Ah! I know that feeling.

Would you be able to convert your observations ratio to species ratio? That is, of your total number of species, how many are RG, how many are Needs ID. Thanks!

Haha! You got that right. I’m no birder, but whenever I post one I am just amazed at the speed of the response. Sometimes it’s virtually instant! Thank you birders.

Here’s hoping for some more unexpected ID joy is coming your way. (Soon!)


44.6% RG

Two largest groups:

Plants 46% on 2,500 verifiable observations
Insects 43.4% on 7,200 verifiable observations

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About 65-70% RG. The ones stuck in ‘Needs ID’ will likely remain in their limbo for the foreseeable future - essentially for lack of specialists and readily available ID literature.

Mine is 619 out of 3648, so 16.96%. In my defence 3261 are ants (509 are RG, so 15.61%), which can be quite hard to ID to species depending on which ants they are.
It is not helped by the fact that two years ago I made about 2400 ant observations of just the ants without microscopic detail, where 10% are RG.
I’m trying to change that, so since last year I am trying to get microscopic details of the ants, and so far 40% of those ants are RG, so definitely much better.


of my total observations (all verifiable), just under 36% are research grade. i think that ratio’s a combination of being subpar at taking identifiable photos, observing mostly cryptic taxa, observing mostly invertebrates, and being in australia (where existing invertebrate taxonomy and ID is messy and poorly studied, i’m learning)

translated into species, it’s a bit less grim at 173:310 RG:SP (~56%)


Seems like I’m doing pretty good. Most of my stuff is plants, but I’ll photograph whatever interesting critters I see as well. Out of my 1509 species currently, 1378 (91%) are “verifiable” (I also photograph cultivated plants for reference and certain garden projects, especially if they are rare or unusual species). Out of my verifiable ones, 1038 (75%) have at least one observation at research grade. The number for Needs ID is 665 (48%). - Edited to correct the numbers, screwed myself over by clicking the wrong tab, hah! (Note the numbers are not additive, there is some overlap apparently.)

762 species

579 RG (I upload few obs, and try to provide enough info in my pictures and notes)
When I seek out Unobserved Peninsula species, or upload from my archives - that is an unfair advantage - since I KNOW it is a lion and pictures and initial ID only need one easy click for CID.

69 casual
171 Needs ID - and yes I do push with @mentions but not for ‘sorry’ pictures.

And to @broacher 's initial question about catching and retaining newbies. That is why I ID for CNC and GSB (if iNat misses that window they are GONE) Then the Unknowns - nobody looked at my obs, not going back there!

For common species, and obs that have been pushed to Needs ID limbo. We. Need. More. Identifiers. Taxon specialists, but also patient plodders who will pick out the good stuff for them first.


42% RG for me (26k total). I think mine is rather low because so many observations are of tropical grasses in Hawaii and there’s very few people who ID this group.


I don’t think I can do ratios by species, because I often post observations where I don’t know what the thing is, so it sits at anything from a family to kingdom.

I have 5906 verifiable observations of which 4558 are research grade, so a 77% ratio.

If I take out birds, I have 3956 observations of which 2649 are RG, ie a 67% ratio

My main suggestion for how to get a higher RG ratio is to take good photos. Once you have some experience, you’ll know what characteristics are needed to identify common species, and just photo those, but if you’ve seen something new, try to take multiple good photos from different angles.

If you’re photographing a plant, try to get flowers (if any), leaves and stem, and an overall view of the plant. If photographing a mushroom, get a picture of the gills and stem as well as a top-down view of the cap. If photographing an insect, zoom in. It’s amazing how many people post pictures of tiny blurry dots. Once you have one good photo of the insect, if it hasn’t flown away yet, try to get another photo from a different angle. If you got a top-down view, try to get a clear picture of its head.


45% of my verifiable observations are at Research Grade. I have mostly focused on plants (44% at RG). I think this will drift back toward 50% in fall/winter.

My ratio is similar to my geographic area where:

I have considered things that will improve this metric (especially for the area) and incorporate that into how I engage. However, I don’t get so focused on it that I ruin my hobby for myself. I can help, but this is a joint effort - one that will never be complete.


Out of my 2113 observations, only 97 are '“needs ID”. Approximately 95% are therefore RG. Most of them are plants. The few “needs id” are largely insects.
If it is important to you to have a high proportion of RG, the most important factors are.

  • Good, most several meaningful photos. Nevertheless, especially the first photo should be informative.
  • Well-known and easily identifiable species are naturally identified much more quickly.
  • It is a give and take. If you identify a lot for others, the others will help you too.
  • Another little thing. Once you have arrived at the genus level and think that an identification at species level is not possible with the photos. You can tick this box and the observation will be RG at genus level. This also helps to reduce the large amount of needs ID on iNat.



48 Research Grade, 66 Needs ID, rest are non-verifiable
So… 42% Research Grade
Given I only started last month, i’m pleasantly surprised! My earlier observations weren’t great, got advice yesterday on how to take better observation photos. Hopefully that’ll bump the ratio up a bit :3


72 species total (100%)
61 species wild (85%)
35 species RG (49% total, 57% wild)

2123 totalspecies, 1434 research grade. Roughly 2/3rds.
11807 observations, 6030 RG. Just over 50/50.
Honestly much more confirmed than I thought. I quite regularly observe species and only know one person who can ID them, so they might not reach research grade.