Journal archives for December 2021

December 07, 2021

You're invited ID-Blitz December 10-11

Are you interesting in doing some identifications this weekend? I am running a short event, the "IDblitz," on December 10 and 11 (UTC). The basic idea is for a group of us to ID as many observations as possible during the 48 hours. At the end I'll announce the total number of IDs made by the group and individually message you with your personal total.

This is a great opportunity to work on IDs in a collaborative environment, with a chance to work with and support other iNat IDers. We will be focusing on IDing unknowns and observations at the Kingdom level, but all efforts at IDing are welcome and will be tracked in the project results. We will also have a collaborative ID link, where you can see the IDs made by other members of the Blitz, and work on improving IDs in areas where you have knowledge and experience.

Sign up is simple, just join the project at least 24 hours before the start of the event (by December 8, midnight UTC.) You can find the project here.

Posted on December 07, 2021 02:15 AM by arboretum_amy arboretum_amy | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Fun Trick with Search URLS

(Previously published during the Jan-Feb 2021 IDathon, provided again here.)

Do you have a favorite taxon? And you want to be sure to find every observation which might be that taxon?

Or maybe you can think of a taxon people are constantly miss-identifying? (Ugh.)

Introducing your new favorite tricks:

How to use them? I'll give an example.

  1. Go to identify and type in a taxon. Add any of your preferred settings and hit go. For this example I'll be using Asparagus setaceus, searching for both "needs ID" and "casual"

  2. Look at the URL of the page. Find the bit that says "&taxon_id=[number]" and carefully type in additional characters so that it instead reads "&ident_taxon_id=[number]" Now hit enter.
    Assuming you didn't make any typos, you should now be seeing more observations than before.* The new ones are observations where a disagreement has occurred, but at least one person thinks the observation belongs in the taxon you're searching.
    *As long as observations with disagreements exist; they usually do!

  3. If you want to look at only observations where there is disagreement, alter the URL again to add an additional component, "&without_taxon_id=[yourtaxonnumberhere]" I find it easiest to add it to the end so that I am sure not to mess up anything in the middle. You should have just produced a URL containing both &ident_taxon_id=[number] and &without_taxon_id=[samenumber]

You might also prefer to look at Explore view rather than Identify. That way if you tab over to the “species” tab it will show you stuff that often gets confused for the species in question. Using my example of Asparagus setaceus, that turns out to look like this: I find that very handy for alerting myself to possible "lookalike" taxa.

Of course there's also a built-in way to do that on the About Page of any species:

Clicking the grey numbers in the image corners will show you observations with identifications of both species. So for example, observations identified as both Asparagus setaceus and Asparagus aethiopicus are here:,75604&place_id=any&verifiable=any
Therefore &ident_taxon_id_exclusive= is the URL modification to use if you want to search for multiple taxa IDs which appear together.

Neat! If you really want to dive into search URL tips and tricks, check out the forum guide:

Posted on December 07, 2021 02:36 AM by arboretum_amy arboretum_amy | 1 comment | Leave a comment

Beyond Plantae

Yes, it's a plant! Now what? Is it a conifer? A dicot? A legume? This presentation by @philodendronjoe can help you sort out the differences.

Posted on December 07, 2021 02:51 AM by arboretum_amy arboretum_amy | 2 comments | Leave a comment

December 09, 2021

Welcome + Links

Hi everyone, there are only a few hours left until ID-blitz December 2021 begins. If you are tagged in this post, you joined the project in time to become an official participant! Woo-hoo!

Now what? We have a count-down running on the project home page that you can watch to see when the event begins. Once the count-down has reached zero, start identifying! You do not have to do anything special for your IDs to be counted, just do your usual thing or check out the links below.

As you are identifying, if you see an observation that's particularly wow-worthy, you may add it to this project to share it with other participants. Please do not add more than a few observations total to the project--we are not using the project to count IDs so there's no need to add everything you see.


Tomorrow right when the event starts, I will note the total number of unknowns in the iNaturalist database. At the end of the event, we can see how much the total went down!

To ID unknowns, you can use this link here. (It's a bit slow to load, so if you don't see anything right away, be patient.) This link is provided for convenience, but you're welcome to make changes to it or use an entirely different search. For example, if you want to see a particular part of the word, add a place filter after you open the link. I have it showing observations older than Oct 31st to avoid stepping on new uploads. However, I don’t plan to worry about the observation age when noting start/end numbers or participation totals.


Tomorrow right when the event starts, I will note the total number of observations ranked exactly at kingdom level. At the end of the event, we can compare the new total to the old total. What do you think, will the number go up, because we are putting a lot of coarse IDs on unknowns? Or can we make the number go down?

To make IDs, you can use this link. If you'd like to see one kingdom at a time, type it into the search box after you open the link. You may also add geographic filters or whatever else you like.

Here's another cool link, showing observations at exactly kingdom Plantae that do have at least one lower ID.

Or if you prefer, here are observations exactly at Kingdom Plantae that also have at least one ID of Tracheophyta.

If you'd like help making a custom link, let's talk about it in the comments below.


To pull up observations recently ID’d by other participants, click here. If you have the skill to ID to lower levels, I encourage you to use that link and refine the community taxon as you are able. It will be nice for people sorting unknowns to see some observations get refined quickly. Technically this pulls up all observations ever ID’d by participants, not just those done during the event, but I do have it sorting by recently updated. If you would like to see specific taxa or geographic areas, add those filters after opening the link.


If anything is unclear, please ask in the comments below. Thanks everyone and have fun tomorrow!

@abhijatshakya, @annkatrinrose, @antrozousamelia, @arboretum_amy, @avocat, @beetle_mch, @blastcat, @bouteloua, @caja-manga, @calopogon, @dallonweekes, @danieldas, @deboas, @dianastuder, @driftlessroots, @egordon88, @elschongar, @emilyearthquake, @fluffyinca, @fseichter, @fuzzyspider, @glisby, @hederahelix, @helmwige, @ionam, @jbecky, @jmillsand, @jonathan_mack, @kevinfaccenda, @kitbeard, @kristalwatrous, @lappelbaum, @leahmfulton, @lera, @lisa_bennett, @lothlin, @lynnharper, @machi, @marina_gorbunova, @mchs_citizen_science_club, @mmmmbugs, @naturejeanne, @navaneethsinigeorge, @ncb1221, @odonut, @paloma, @peakaytea, @rainhead, @richyfourtytwo, @roysh, @sambiology, @sdjbrown, @sue1001, @teawren, @trh_blue, @trscavo, @valentinamgn, @vireyajacquard, @wildskyflower, @wkostick, @zoe_clark1

Posted on December 09, 2021 03:34 AM by arboretum_amy arboretum_amy | 32 comments | Leave a comment

Tips for Identifying Unknowns

(First published during ID-athon May 2021, published again here with slight edits.)

Introducing Lotteryd

Tonight we have a guest post by Unknowns&Life master, @lotteryd, whose self-proclaimed specialty is "general weird stuff." I would like to especially note their use of menus "shortcuts" for taxa names, which means typing a partial name into the "suggest an ID" box and choosing from the resulting drop-down menu. Many of the shortcuts seem strange or non sequitur, but they save a ton of time.

Lotteryd's Tips

Hi folks, Blue asked me to say a few words since I like to ID Unknowns. Unknowns are the ones with no actual label yet, just blank or a placeholder.

To get to a pile of Unknowns, I start with
I can narrow in on a region easily by adding a choice of place, or leave as is for the global experience. Note, the results here are sorted by oldest first (&order=asc) because I like to do that, but that can be changed too. I like 100 per page because I find 30 too small and 200 too large for my taste, but that's adjustable too.
[note from Blue: I prefer to sort by random, since you get a mix of old and new, plus it means you don't run into the many people who prefer to start from one of the other end of the pile]

I also like to go through with the Life ones mixed together with Unknowns, using . However, the Life category is different enough from the Unknowns, with its own complexities, that new IDers may want to stick with Unknowns only.

When approaching Unknowns, you'll probably find that most observations fit into Animalia, Plantae or Fungi. You can keep it as simple as using those basic labels if you like, and it will still make a helpful difference. Anything that doesn't fit into those 3--or if you don't know well enough to say whether it fits any of those--can be labeled Life and other folks can take a look later.

Any way you'd like to narrow down those IDs into still-broad categories is a bonus! Common breakdowns I use, with ways to get them in the pulldown in parenthesis:

Plantae (p, 1st choice):

  • If it's a land plant that's not a liverwort or moss or such, Tracheophyta (t, 1st choice) includes ferns, conifers and angiosperms
  • Anything that's a fern can start at Polypodiopsida (f, 2nd choice); anything conifer can be Pinales (pi, 2nd choice)
  • If you can sort Angiospermae (a, 2nd choice) into Magnoliopsida (d, 1st choice) vs Liliopsida (mo, 1st choice) that's a bonus
  • If you can tell Liliopsida down to grass/reed/sedge: (poa, 4th choice Poales broadly, 5th Poaceae if an actual grass) [Blue: alternatively, poal 1st choice for Poales, or g 1st choice for grasses]

Animalia (a, 1st choice):

  • Many will be crawling things with legs, which can start at Arthropoda (a, 3rd choice). Of these, some common ones are general flying insects Pterygota (w, 2nd choice), spiders Aranae (aw, 3rd choice), ants Formicidae (ii, 1st choice), dragonflies Anisoptera (dr, 1st choice), moths/butterflies Lepidoptera (l, 1st choice)
  • Other common ones will be in motion without legs, such as snails/slugs Gastropoda (gas, 1st choice), or segmented worms Annelida [Blue: if the "worm" does not have clear segments, leave it at Animalia.... and if it does, it still isn't L. terrestris...]
  • A lot of Vertebrata (v, 1st choice) can be sorted: birds Aves (av, 1st choice), mammals Mammalia (m, 4th choice), frogs Anura, salamanders Caudata, turtles Testudines, snakes Serpentes, lizards Sauria, fish Actinopterygii (ray, 1st choice)

Fungi (f, 1st choice):

  • If it looks like "a mushroom", often Agaricomycetes (Hom, 1st choice- the uppercasse H matters) will work
  • If a lichen on a tree, often Lecanoromycetes (leca 1st choice) is OK
    But, Fungi can be tricky so staying broad is fine.

Life (u, 1st choice- that easy!)

  • Use this when stumped or if it seems complicated
  • It is still useful to call something weird "Life" if you know it's not just a rock. It really does go where others can see it a little faster than if it stayed "Unknown".

Other bit of advice: New IDers might want to skip anything with a placeholder, since an id should be accompanied by the extra work of pasting the placeholder text into your ID or a comment. If you do accidentally write over a placeholder without preserving it, you can get it back by withdrawing your ID to see it pop back up; or by loading a url for the observation with the string .json added at the end- then look for "species guess" in the results.

Biggest advice: Keep it fun and/or relaxing! If it's not either of those, take a break.


Posted on December 09, 2021 03:49 AM by arboretum_amy arboretum_amy | 2 comments | Leave a comment

December 10, 2021

Starting Numbers

Okay, let's go! At official start time the total number of unknowns, site-wide, was 259,666.
Site-wide number of observations exactly at kingdom was showing the following breakdown:
Plantae = 596,605
Fungi = 502,575
Animalia= 45,570
Protozoa = 1,473
Chromista = 1,265
Bacteria = 1,263
Viruses = 963
Archaea = 31
Total = 1,149,745

Posted on December 10, 2021 12:38 AM by arboretum_amy arboretum_amy | 20 comments | Leave a comment

December 11, 2021

19 hours to go

...and 19,198 ID's made!

Posted on December 11, 2021 05:03 AM by arboretum_amy arboretum_amy | 0 comments | Leave a comment

How's it going?

7.5ish hours left and 24,634 IDs done. How's it going? Did you set personal goals or are you taking a relaxed approach?

Posted on December 11, 2021 04:37 PM by arboretum_amy arboretum_amy | 21 comments | Leave a comment

One Hour Left!

29,667 IDs have been made, clearing just over 18,000 unknowns. If you're around for the final push, you got this!!

Posted on December 11, 2021 11:04 PM by arboretum_amy arboretum_amy | 3 comments | Leave a comment

December 12, 2021


Hey everyone we did it! We survived ID-blitz December 2021!

  • 54 people made 30,948 identifications in 48 hours
  • Unknowns decreased from 259,666 to 241,321, that is 18,345 unknowns cleared
  • Plantae stayed nearly the same (though not without hard work!) changing from 596,605 to 596,422
  • Fungi rose from 502,575 to 504,192
  • Animalia decreased from 45,570 to 44,476
  • All remaining kingdoms are about the same (Protozoa 1,473/1,472)(Chromista 1,265/1,270)(Bacteria 1,263/1,249)(Viruses 963/969)(Archaea 31/30)
  • Total kingdom level observations rose from 1,149,745 to 1,150,081

You will be contacted directly with your individual number of IDs made.

@marina_gorbunova, @sue1001, @wildskyflower, @peakaytea, @paloma, @annkatrinrose, @lynnharper, @sdjbrown, @arboretum_amy, @richyfourtytwo, @danieldas, @beetle_mch, @roysh, @vireyajacquard, @antrozousamelia, @egordon88, @abhijatshakya, @driftlessroots, @helmwige, @mmmmbugs, @elschongar, @rainhead, @avocat, @trh_blue, @lisa_bennett, @odonut, @machi, @sambiology, @deboas, @kevinfaccenda, @glisby, @teawren, @dallonweekes, @fseichter, @lappelbaum, @ncb1221, @dianastuder, @jmillsand, @blastcat, @jonathan_mack, @navaneethsinigeorge, @trscavo, @ionam, @kitbeard, @calopogon, @fuzzyspider, @caja-manga, @jbecky, @naturejeanne, @lera, @kristalwatrous, @hederahelix, @emilyearthquake, @wkostick

Edit: I didn't consider checking this right when the event ended, but as of 1 hour after event end time, 3855 observations identified during the event are research grade.

Edit 2: more breakdowns!
Category/Count/% of All
Other Animals/1,133/3.7
Mammals /443/1.4
Ray-Finned Fish/ 242/0.8

Posted on December 12, 2021 12:24 AM by arboretum_amy arboretum_amy | 50 comments | Leave a comment

Gracias al apoyo de:

¿Quiere apoyarnos? Pregúntenos cómo escribiendo a