iNaturalist participation across the United States

Recently, I spent some time examining the umbrella project Biodiversity of The United States, by State ; created by @zoology123 This project collects observations across the 50 states and 15 territories of the United States. I was curious about how many states and territories I had made observations in (27 states and 1 territory). Here was my top 10 as of 23 June 2019:

Biodiversity of My Obs My Rsrch
My Rsrch
My Species My Rank
  Washington 3,500 2,720 78% 861 7
  Arizona 490 380 78% 166 80
  Utah 278 193 69% 103 49
  Wyoming 164 53 32% 86 17
  Alaska 139 104 75% 86 58
  Oregon 115 69 60% 66 257
  Idaho 78 34 44% 41 121
  Montana 73 37 51% 38 88
  New Jersey 67 28 42% 38 352
  Nebraska 62 37 60% 33 63


I started dredging around in my massive Google, Flickr and iCloud photo dumps and found a few more states (Kansas and New Hampshire) that I was able to add observations from. There's more gems in the photo archives to be mined; anyone else have a similar problem?

After this, I was curious to see how observations varied across the United States. I assembled statistics state by state using data from the Biodiversity projects from each state (as of 23 June 2019), thanks @zoology123 along with current 2018 population estimates (see iNaturalist US observation Analysis 23 June 2019

I built an observation metric to understand what states have more or less observations compared to the overall population. For each state, I found how many observations existed for the state and also computed the sum of all observations for the United States. From this, I calculated % total US iNat observations Next, I computed the percent of the US population in the state. Finally, I computed a metric of observations as % total iNat US observations/ % total US population.

Using Vermont as an example, there were 274,545 observations out of 12,901,089 total observations which is 2.13% of all US iNat observations. Vermont's population of 626,299 comprise 0.19% of the total US population. I divided Vermont's 2.13% of all US iNat observations by Vermont's 0.19% of the total US population and computed that Vermont has 11.2 times more observations than overall for the US. Alaska, California, Texas, Hawaii, and Maine are also leaders in iNaturalist observations. On the other end of the spectrum are North Dakota, Georgia, Nebraska, Iowa, and Puerto Rico.

Here's a look at the data I compiled and some additional detail:


Name Population estimate, 2018 Population Rank % total US population iNat Observations (23 June 19) % total US iNat observations (23 June 2019) % total iNat observations/ % total population Rank Census Bureau-designated region Census Bureau-designated Division
 Vermont 626,299 51 0.19% 274,545 2.1% 11.2 1 Northeast New England
 Alaska 737,438 48 0.22% 78,713 0.6% 2.7 2 West Pacific
 California 39,557,045 1 11.96% 3,295,194 25.5% 2.1 3 West Pacific
 Texas 28,701,845 2 8.68% 2,004,452 15.5% 1.8 4 South West South Central
 Hawaii 1,420,491 41 0.43% 92,740 0.7% 1.7 5 West Pacific
 Maine 1,338,404 42 0.40% 83,130 0.6% 1.6 6 Northeast New England
 District of Columbia 702,455 50 0.21% 42,201 0.3% 1.5 7 South South Atlantic
 New Mexico 2,095,428 37 0.63% 123,506 1.0% 1.5 8 West Mountain 
 Wyoming 577,737 52 0.17% 31,613 0.2% 1.4 9 West Mountain 
 Oregon 4,190,713 27 1.27% 214,269 1.7% 1.3 10 West Pacific



I also computed a regional metric using classifications developed by the US Census Bureau. I'll write that up in a separate post.

Some Notes on sources and methodology

I accessed Biodiversity of The United States, by State over the course of 8 hours during 23 June 2019. I gathered data satate by state by examining the number of observations for each state's project starting with
As an aside, I looked at other data for each state such as number of research observations, number of species, number of identifiers, number of observers, That's more grist for the mill, it was quite interesting to observe this data.

For each state and territory, I found the 2018 estimate of population from Wikipedia

I excluded some of the smallest US territories: Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Howland Island and Baker Island, Jarvis Island, Johnston Atoll, Kingman Reef, Midway Atoll, Navassa Island, Wake Island, and Antarctic US Bases since I did not have a reliable 2018 estimate of the population.

Posted on June 27, 2019 05:54 PM by brewbooks brewbooks


Reporting in from Alaska..... neat!

Posted by muir almost 5 years ago

Go Vermont!

Posted by charlie almost 5 years ago

excellent @brewbooks ! Can you put the whole list of states?

Posted by langlands almost 5 years ago

Thanks, appreciate the feedback.

@langlands My HTML formatting skills for tables are not very good.
Let me suggest that you try a download from iNaturalist US observation Analysis 23 June 2019

If that's an issue, I'm happy to send you a copy of the entire table in Excel, PDF or whatever format works.

Even better, if you know a good public domain HTML editor, let me know that and I'll do the entire table in HTML :)

Posted by brewbooks almost 5 years ago

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