How to add or edit Establishment Means in iNaturalist

Modified on Fri, 02 Feb 2024 at 01:11 PM

Establishment Means on iNaturalist

On iNaturalist, each taxon can have an Establishment Means in a Place, such as a country, state/provice, or county level Place. What the Establishment Means tells you is whether the taxon is native, introduced or endemic to that Place. Here's how those terms are defined on iNaturalist:

  • Native: evolved in this region or arrived by non-anthropogenic means.
  • Endemic: the taxon native and occurs nowhere else. (Usually used only for taxa with small ranges. Please don't use this for Places like continents.)
  • Introduced: the taxon arrived in the region via anthropogenic means.

If a taxon is labeled as introduced or endemic to a Place, you'll see a little badge on any observation of that taxon in that Place - a green star for endemic, and a pink exclamation point for introduced. Click on the badge for more information. 

Establishment means can also be used for Collection Projects, as well as a filter when using the Explore page

How to add or edit Establishment Means

Any user on iNaturalist can add or edit a taxon's Establishment Means in a Place by editing that Place's checklist on the iNaturalist website. Here's how to do it. In this example, we'll be marking Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus) as native to Canada.

  1. Using the Header Search, find the Place you're interested in and click on About. This will take you to the Place's page, eg

  2. Scroll down and, on the left-hand side, click on View Check List Page, which will take to you Canada's Check List:

  3. In the upper right-hand corner search field, enter the taxon you want to edit and click Search List.

  4. Click on Edit for that taxon, which takes you to 

  5. On the right-hand side, click on Edit next to Establishment Means. Clicking on the question mark will bring up definitions for each term.

  6. Choose the proper Establishment Means setting. In this case, it would be Native.

  7. Click Save.


  • Remember, Places are "nested" in a hierarchy. Establishment Means "float" up, meaning that Ursus maritimus will now be listed as "native" in North America as well, because Canada is nested within North America on iNaturalist. 

  • If you are a Curator, you will have the option to "Apply establishment means to descendent places". Make sure to read the description and think carefully before you choosing to do this. A taxon could be native to one part of a country, for example, but introduced in another part of it. 

  • It's important to keep in mind that "introduced" does not necessarily mean the taxon is "invasive" in that Place. "Invasive" is a  judgement call and is determined by the negative effects an introduced species might have in a Place. Because of this, it's not a term used by iNaturalist. "Introduced" on iNaturalist just tells you whether humans brought it to a Place, either accidentally or on purpose, and not necessarily its effect on the ecosystem there.

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