South Australian iNaturalists's Journal

Journal archives for August 2019

August 04, 2019

iNaturalist 'Observation of the Day' looks to South Australia

An awesome photo of a Common Heath (Epacris Impressa) by Ralph (@rfoster) has been made the iNaturalist "Observation of the Day"!

The Common Heath is present in the south-east of SA and common through the southern Mount Lofty Ranges. It flowers through Winter with numerous pendulous flowers hanging from the leaf axils. Its bright colour stands out against the green/grey of other vegetation during the Winter months. Often a strong pink, the flowers can also be white as shown in Ralph's photo. (In my experience the white flowers are far less common).

Seeds SA species page:

Congratulations Ralph, great photo.

Posted on August 04, 2019 09:56 PM by cobaltducks cobaltducks | 2 comments | Leave a comment

August 06, 2019

What is a ‘Verifiable Observation’ and how does it reach ‘Research Grade’?

For those members who are new to iNaturalist, below is a short primer on some terminology you will encounter when uploading and identifying observations.

This is intended as a brief introduction (with some broad generalizations). More detailed information can be found on the Help page and in the iNatForum:

Data Sharing -

Observations uploaded to iNaturalist that reach ‘Research Grade’ are shared with various partners including the Atlas of Living Australia (ALA) ( As such it is important that any records being shared are of the highest quality. The process below shows how iNaturalist works to ensure accuracy in their dataset.

‘Verifiable Observation’ -

This status is applied to any observation that is uploaded that contains a valid date, a location, has photo or sound, and isn’t of a captive/cultivate organism. Without any one of these vital pieces of information, an observation cannot reach Research Grade and is not shared with the ALA. However, such observations can still be uploaded to iNaturalist, and they will have a ‘Casual’ status.

‘Needs ID’ -

Observations that are ‘Verifiable’ begin life with ‘Needs ID’ status. From here the iNat community of experts and knowledgeable people can assist in identifying the organism. If enough people agree, the observation can reach a ‘Research Grade’ status.

‘Research Grade’ -

This status is achieved when a ‘Verifiable Observation’ has been reviewed and the community is in agreement on the ID. The observation will now be shared with the ALA and other iNat partners.

Data Accuracy -

Having an observation reach ‘Research Grade’ comes with a sense of achievement. However, it is not necessary, and not always appropriate, for an observations to reach a ‘Research Grade’. Many organisms simply cannot be identified to species with photographs alone and pushing these to ‘Research Grade’ may only result in inaccurate records being included in the ALA and other databases. Learn to be comfortable with ‘Needs ID’ and be patient. New experts and knowledgeable users join iNat regularly. I have had observations IDed by an expert after more than a year at ‘Needs ID’.

Confirming IDs -

A minimum of two agreeing IDs are required to reach ‘Research Grade’. The intent is that two experts or knowledgeable people must review the observation before it can become ‘Research Grade’. When confirming IDs using the ‘Agree’ button (particularly on your own observations), consider your own knowledge of the particular taxon. An identification confirms that you can confidently identify the organism yourself compared to any possible lookalikes.

There are a few reasons that an observation may stay at ‘Needs ID’:

  • There may not be enough experts on that particular taxon currently using iNat
  • It may not be possible to ID to species from photos for this organism
  • Diagnostic features are not visible in the photos.

Photo Quality -

Pretty photos are great, but iNat is not concerned with your photography skills. Only that the photos provide the necessary evidence to help the community achieve a consensus on the identification. If you are not familiar with the species you are observing, taking photos of each feature of the organism can assist the community in identifying it.

Some Examples -

Poor quality photos can still be useful - My first photo of a Wedge-tailed Eagle was blurry and heavily cropped, but the tail shape is diagnostic for this bird at this location, so it was still able to reach ‘Research Grade’:

Unable to ID to species from photos – This Raven from Belair National Park is still identified only to Genus because these are difficult to ID to species even with good photos: (See “The Trouble with Ravens”:

Even experts have their limits without a specimen to assess – With clear (but insufficient) photos this unusual Robberfly could only be IDed to Genus at best:

Hopefully the above has provided a little insight as to how observations are assessed. Any questions about this or other aspects of how iNaturalist works, please ask in the comments section below.

Posted on August 06, 2019 07:34 AM by cobaltducks cobaltducks | 7 comments | Leave a comment

August 10, 2019

The intriguing world of Holothuroidea (Sea Cucumbers)

Although many members of this project have a lot of experience with marine environments, for those of us who don't (myself included), here is a fascinating introductory animated video on Sea Cucumbers.

There are currently 80 observations on iNat of Holothuroidea recorded in SA. See them all here:

Sea Cucumbers as a food? Dr Stephen Purcell, an Australian expert on Sea Cucumbers, in conjunction with the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, has developed a guide for Pacific Island fishers processing sea cucumbers into 'beche-de-mer':  (PDF download)

If anyone has knowledge/info on local Sea Cucumbers they'd like to share, please do so in the comments section below.

Thanks to Warwick (@warmoz) for suggesting this video.

Posted on August 10, 2019 12:09 PM by cobaltducks cobaltducks | 1 comment | Leave a comment

August 13, 2019

iNaturalist Australia 'node' in the works

Back in May of this year the Atlas of Living Australia (ALA) announced they had signed a member agreement with iNaturalist. This means that soon ALA will have it's own iNaturalist 'node' known as iNaturalist Australia. See the full article in the link below.

The iNaturalist Network currently has 6 countries with Branded Gateways (think, country specific homepages): Panama, Mexico, Columbia, Canada, Portugal and New Zealand. See the link below for a more detailed explanation of the iNaturalist Network.

Posted on August 13, 2019 05:10 PM by cobaltducks cobaltducks | 0 comments | Leave a comment