Zoo animals - why are they permitted?

Not negative - my issue is this. I came to iNat after many years with eBird where the data is collected according to strict protocols so that it is useful for serious scientific studies of populations and species distributions etc. Captive species are a strict no-no for obvious reasons. In other words it’s a scientific tool. I assumed, perhaps wrongly, that iNat had the same ethos and purpose but superb as its AI identification skills are I am suspecting that it has other objectives than simply the gathering of high quality data. Don’t get me wrong, I like it and I use it but I am still puzzled as to why anyone would record a captive animal or a cultivated garden flower or a cat. How does that help science?

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You could also flip it around – I went to eBird thinking they must require photos, how else could they expect to get scientific quality data? Then I found out anyone can just say they saw something and that’s fine. How does that help science?

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Hint: that’s not the motivation for the majority of casual users.

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From your description here, it does suggest that your comments or queries may have been interpreted as a challenge of the validity of the observations. Maybe my use of the word “negative” was out of place…

iNat is very much more than just the science. :) There are a good number of us that see merit in the inclusion of captive/cultivated organisms, including lions in cages. For me personally, a lion in a cage would never be more than a lifelist addition… but garden plants for instance, can jump the fence and invade native bush. When I encounter strange plants in the bush, it’s a help to be able to see what is growing in gardens nearby that might be similar, and it can often lead to locating and rectifying the source of the “infestations”. At the very least, cultivated observations can provide the AI with data to help find such plants, and int he future the system may well be developed far enough to be able to determine from the photo if plants are cultivated or wild! That won’t happen without a lot of data…

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More seriously, I’ll give an example where captive iNat observations provide data for real science where eBird data would not.
There’s a project looking at the timing of molt in mountain goats. They 100% need photos to document the extent of the molt on each individual. Most of the photos used in the project are from wild individuals, but captive individuals kept outside are also included. They’re investigating whether temperature or daily amount of sunlight is a bigger factor in the timing of the molt. If it’s temperature, then the assumption is that mountain goats have a better chance of adapting with climate change than if it’s daily sunlight.

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I know that … but then again isn’t the name “citizen science” a bit of a give away concerning what is expected? facebook is crawling with groups for people who just want nice pictures of birds or butterflies.

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From the iNat About page:

Since people occasionally misunderstand iNat’s purpose, here are some things iNaturalist is not:

It’s not a science project

The data generated by the iNat community could be used in science and conservation, and we actively try to distribute the data in venues where scientists and land managers can find it, but we do not have any scientific agenda of our own aside from helping to map where and when species occur. That being said, iNat is a platform for biodiversity research…

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If they don’t change it after you ask them to you probably just have to leave it

Whether or not the majority of users’ motivation is to help science, the question remains, why is this fine? Okay, maybe nobody is doing anything as egregious as posting observations of rocs, phoenixes, and griffins (or are they?), but even so the potential for abuse is huge. Bachman’s warbler makes a comeback, snail kites expand their range into the Great Basin region, all sorts of weird things can happen.

I have the same problem with iNat observations without any media; but those, at least, will be marked casual as result.

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