If you are not sure what the species is that you have observed, there are a number of ways you can get help finding out.
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Identification help for all living things
ALA now manages the Australian node of iNaturalist – the world’s leading social network for biodiversity. We recommend ALA users upload individual observations to iNaturalist Australia.
iNaturalist Australia uses community expertise and image recognition to help users identify species. Therefore, you do not need to know the species name to submit an observation. Simply upload your image with location information and their community may be able to help you identify your find. You can also submit your observations via their app.
The ALA harvests observations from iNaturalist Australia every week.
Detailed instructions on how to record an observation with iNaturalist Australia are available here: How to record an observation with iNaturalist.
Turn it into a game!
QuestaGame is the world's first mobile game that takes you outdoors to discover, map and ultimately help protect life on our planet. Your sightings not only get you game points, but contribute to real research and conservation, with sightings verified by their expert community flowing into the ALA.
Identification help for animals
Most state museums have an identification service for animals that you can either visit in person or email your photo to. Museum websites often feature online field guides with colour photos that may help identify your find.
- Australian Museum's Search and Discover features a staffed information desk to answer questions and help you explore the museum's various areas of science. There are computers with free internet access and reference materials.
- Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory experts can help you identify many animals.
- Queensland Museum’s Discovery Centre can help you identify many animals. Staff are on hand to welcome your questions and encourage discovery. Queensland Museum’s online identification resources and field guides include Animals of Queensland and Ask an Expert.
- South Australian Museum’s Discovery Centre can help you identify many animals.
- Western Australia Museum experts can help you identify many animals.
- Museum Victoria’s Discovery Centre can help you identify many animals. Museum Victoria has developed a set of Field Guide apps to Australian Fauna for every state and territory in Australia. Available for both Apple and Android devices, the apps combine detailed animal descriptions with stunning imagery and sounds to provide a valuable reference that can be used in urban, bush and coastal environments.
- Your local council may be able to assist in identification of wildlife in urban areas. They should also have suggestions on ways to deal with protected animals if they are a pest in or around your home.
- The Australian Bird Guide is the most comprehensive and beautifully illustrated field guide to Australia’s unique birdlife. And it has won awards!
- The Birds in Backyards Birds Finder allows you to search, browse or find information about individual Australian birds.
- What Bug Is That? provides identification keys and information for more than 600 insect families of Australia.
Identification help for plants
Most state and territory herbaria offer plant identification services. Clicking on the links below will show the identification services available in your state.
- Australian National Herbarium - Canberra
- National Herbarium of Victoria
- The Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust - Sydney
- Queensland Herbarium – Brisbane
- Tasmanian Herbarium
- Western Australian Herbarium
- State Herbarium of South Australia
- Northern Territory Herbarium
- Australian Tropical Herbarium – Cairns
- The Australian National Botanic Gardens has a huge collection of photo galleries and identification keys and guides for Australian plants.
- The Weeds in Australia Identification Tool is a simple identification tool for the invasive plant species that are on a national weed list or are legislated against in a state or territory of Australia.
- The Flora of Australia Online lists many Australian plants with text-based character keys to describe each species. It is quite scientific.
Identification help for fungi
The fungimap website introduces you to the basics of fungi such as the mushrooms, puffballs, stinkhorns, polypores, truffles and more. There is an online field guide to assist in identification. Their identification and recording service has now moved to the iNaturalist platform, so head there to add your fungi sightings.
If you have had success with identifying unknown specimens using other methods, let us know and we can add it to the list.
- Read Our top tips on species identification blog
- There are some links to online plant identification tools on the Queensland Herbarium's website, which may be of use: How to identify specimens