Making Observations

Making Observations through iNaturalist

EOL and iNaturalist have teamed up to provide observational capabilities for EOL Collections, making them more lively and dynamic. Using these new features, any  EOL Collection can be turned into a checklist for making and sharing observations by turning the Collection into a shared EOL- iNaturalist Project.

iNaturalist.org is the home of an active naturalist community, and offers an invaluable source of information about the living world through the observations its members create and share.

iNaturalist Observations Map

You can make and share observations from your school yard, backyard, from your walk to work and around town, or as part of a structured citizen science activity.  The observations you make in the field will now show up in a dynamic map under the iNaturalist Observations tab in your EOL Collection (see a live example here) and on the iNaturalist website.

See below for more information:

Identifying What You Have Found

When you use an EOL Collection as an observation checklist through iNaturalist, you'll gain important clues you can use to help make a good observation.  But sometimes it's hard to tell the difference between one species and another.  

If you are having trouble identifying what you have observed, don't worry! When you create an observation in iNaturalist, you can request help from the on-line community of enthusiasts and experts who will usually provide a name for even the most obscure organisms. As you become more expert in making observations, you'll be able to assist others in turn.

Get Help with Identification

How Does it Work?

Ready to make an observation? 

  • To get started, choose an EOL Collection. You'll need a free iNaturalist account to get started (or just link your EOL profile to your Facebook, Twitter, Google or Yahoo! account and your iNaturalist account will be created automatically). 
  • When you're ready to make your observation to your chosen EOL collection (for example: Invasive Species in North America), simply click on the iNaturalist Observation tab. Click on the "add observation" button. This will take you to the iNaturalist website where you will upload your observations.
  • You can make and share observations from anywhere by using the free iPhone app or by adding them online.

Ready to make your own observation project? 

If you want to create your own observation project, you need to follow a few simple steps:

  • Create an EOL Collection - Your Collection can be a list of anything you want to observe, such as the plants in your local park, or the bugs and birds in a schoolyard.  You can build a Collection to support a more ambitious citizen science event such as a BioBlitz or a species inventory of a particular area. Learn how to create an EOL Collection here.
  • Send EOL a request to "activate" your Collection with iNaturalist (further instructions are here) - it can take a day for your new project to "go live" on iNaturalist, so thank you for your patience. You may also get some constructive feedback from EOL staff regarding your Collection and how to make it more effective.
  • Spread the word! - Once you create a project, anyone can join in and make observations, so please share the links to your project with your friends, family and collaborators!
  • For step-by-step instructions see: Making your own EOL-iNaturalist Project.

What if I want to make an observation that's not in an EOL- iNaturalist project?

  • Just click "Add Observations" from the iNaturalist homepage, or visit this page to add it to the general observations map on iNaturalist.

Can I make changes to the EOL Collection used by iNaturalist?

  • If you are a manager of the Collection, yes you can!  If you are not, we recommend leaving a comment on the Collection Newsfeed with your recommendation.  Changes to EOL Collections linked to iNaturalist are synchronized with iNaturalist once a day.

Additional help

See the following pages for more specific help with these topics: