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iNaturalist

A citizen-science site and app for reporting observations of, identifying, discussing, and sharing photos of any living organisms.


iNaturalist is a full-fledged social networking service, with a website and mobile apps, focusing on Citizen Science, bringing together both professional and amateur naturalists to report observations of all organisms.

Although we have interlinked only with iNaturalist's plant pages, the site covers all types of living organisms, including animals, fungi, and microbes.

The individual taxon pages on iNaturalist collect a wealth of information, including a distribution map of reported observations, a repository of photos, many of which are open-licensed to allow reuse, leaderboards of users who have reported and/or identified the most of a particular taxon, and a "similar species" tab that reports which species are most frequently mis-identified with each other. There are also graphs of seasonality of observations and plant phenology, which can be useful for determining flowering and fruiting times. Each of the site's features are able to be filtered by region or place.

There are several notable limitations to iNaturalist's data. As the data, including the identifications, are all user-reported, there are numerous errors and misidentifications, especially in taxa that are hard to identify. The data also tends to concentrate around more populous regions and also popular ecotourism hotspots, whereas it is sparser in other areas, and the data tends to favor (and be more reliable for) conspicuous and easy-to-identify plant species.

We have used iNaturalist as one of our primary sources for open-licensed photographs, we use it to help us prioritize which plant ID guides to build, and we also consult it as one of many sources when constructing our plant range maps.