Using the iNaturalist App

Two women document a plant for iNaturalist

The app is an easy way to make your observations as you go! Open the app and make sure you’re logged in.  Then follow these steps:

  1. Snap a photo of a species you find – plant, animal, or fungus – or record a sound.
  2. Need a second photo of the species for someone else to identify it or confirm your identification?  You can take up to 5 photos in a single observation, but they must all be of the same individual.  Don’t take photos of 5 different things!
  3. Make sure the date and time have been automatically entered.  If not, tap the date box and enter the correct information.
  4. The location should be entered automatically if you are taking the photo within the app itself.  If not, tap the location box and the “find me” button (an arrow, in a corner of your screen) and it will move the map to your location. You can also search for your location with the search bar.
  5. Taking the photo in your own yard?  Consider changing the geoprivacy setting to “obscured” so people won’t be able to see where you live!  This option drops your observation into a random location within 10km of your actual location, hiding the exact spot from the public.  Note that “private” observations will not count toward the City Nature Challenge.
  6. If the species you are photographing is not wild, i.e. it was planted in your garden or is a pet, tap “Captive/Cultivated” and choose “Yes.”  This lets people who use iNaturalist for their research know that the species in the photograph was moved there by people and did not arrive their on its own. Ideally, most to all of your observations will NOT be captive/cultivated – we want as many wild species as possible!
  7. No need to choose a project!  Your observation will automatically be added to your local City Nature Challenge totals.
  8. Identify the species by tapping on the “What did you see?” area.  This will run the image recognition algorithm and help you identify the species you’ve photographed.  Choose the species that best fits your image by tapping on it.
  9. Tap Save.
  10. If you have the auto-submit setting turned off (your observations will be green instead of white), you will need to tap the “Submit” button at the top of the screen to finish submitting your observations.

Things to consider when using the iNaturalist app:

  • Make your observations as you go – no need to go back later to upload them!
  • Your observations are limited by your phone’s camera capabilities.  Clip on lenses and binocular adapters can really expand what you can do with your phone – and they’re inexpensive.
  • You can snap photos as you go and upload them later, but the location will not be automatically added if you have the GPS on your camera turned off.  You will have to scroll through a satellite image or use the search bar to find your location manually.
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