What is an iNaturalist Place?

Modified on Fri, 02 Feb 2024 at 01:45 PM


What is a Place?

On iNaturalist, a Place is a geographic boundary that is saved in iNaturalist's database. The Place can be made up of one contiguous area or several non-contiguous areas (such as an island chain). Places are used for four main purposes on iNaturalist:

  • Search areas. For example, you can search for observations that were made within a certain boundary. Places can be used for Projects as well.
  • Conservation statuses. For example, a taxon may be listed as Endangered in one country or state/province, and listed as Least Concern in another.
  • Checklists. Checklists record which taxa have been observed in a Place, or which taxa are known to be in a Place but have not been observed there on iNaturalist as of yet. Establishment means (e.g. native, introduced, endemic) and occurrence status (common, uncommon, etc.) are managed via these checklists.
  • Common names. One taxon may have different regional names in the same language. Common names can be added to a Place to reflect this.

Places can be found via the header search box, on the Explore page, and on the Places page, among other parts of iNaturalist. Each Place has its own page, from which its checklist can be accessed.

On each observation page, clicking "Details" under the map will show you all Places which encompass that observation.

Places can be nested

Similar to taxa, Places can also be nested within each other. For example, Point Reyes National Seashore is nested under the state of California, which is nested under the United States, which is nested under North America:

This allows things like common names, conservation statuses, etc., to "float up" to parent Places or "trickle down" to child Places. So if a taxon is native to Point Reyes National Seashore, then it will be listed as native to California, the United States, and North America. 

Standard Places vs Community Curated Places

iNaturalist created and maintains a set of "Standard" Places (country, state, and county-level places) based on data from GADM. Only iNaturalist staff are able to edit Standard Places. Learn more about Standard places.

Members of the iNaturalist community can also add Places, and there are thousands of these "Community Curated" Places in the database, which anyone can use for searches, projects, etc. If you have made more than 50 verifiable observations, you can create a Place on iNaturalist. Learn more about creating places. Only the Place's creator or an iNaturalist Curator can edit a Community Curated Place.

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