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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Connors

iNaturalist Tip - Local Names

Updated: Apr 10, 2023

Have you ever been stumped by a common name you have never heard of on iNaturalist? For instance, Siam Weed (Chromolaena odorata) or Sweet Acacia (Vachellia farnesiana) would be more familiar to Rio Grande Valley residents as Crucita and Huisache. While scientific names provide a standardized, globally recognized way to refer to species, common names play a valuable role in everyday communication and outreach.

There is a solution! iNaturalist records alternate common names and offers a setting that allows you to choose local common names whenever available. To change this setting (on a computer), hover your mouse cursor over your user icon in the upper right corner. Choose "Account Settings." On that page, choose "Content & Display" on the left. On the next screen you find "Prioritize common names used in this place." In the text box below, enter your preferred place name. For a long time, I had mine set to "South Texas, TX, US." I am currently using "Lower Rio Grande Valley, US, TX." While I haven't noticed a difference yet, your choice may depend on how far north in Texas you typically observe. "Texas, US" also works for these examples, but I prefer to ensure RGV-specific names, so I am sticking with Lower Rio Grande Valley.

If you are using the App on a mobile device, click the three dash (hamburger) menu on the upper left of the screen. Choose Settings. In the middle of the screen you should find, "Common names place." Click on that to enter your prefered name source, "Lower Rio Grande Valley, Region."


Are there other names that have been a thorn in your side? Does this tip help?

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