The ALA receives many requests for help to identify animals, plants and other organisms, often from a photo or physical description. As much as we would like to help answer your requests for identification, as a data aggregator, we are unable to meet the demand for this assistance.
However, there are many services and resources you can access to help identify what you have seen or found.
Identification help for all living things
You may want to upload your species image to BowerBird. This is a sister site to the ALA (all sightings flow through to the ALA). There is a community of users on Bowerbird that may be able to assist you with identifying a species. All of the validated sightings from this service are uploaded to the ALA on a regular basis.
Like BowerBird, iNaturalist utilises an expert community to help identify specimens from images, though they are not limited to Australian sightings. Their validated Australian sightings are also regularly uploaded to the ALA.
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. Australian Museum’s online identification resources and field guides include:
Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory
Museum and Art Gallery of 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
Western Australian Museum experts can help you identify many animals. Western Australian Museum’s online identification resources include Nature Map
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.
The Australian National Botanic Gardens
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
Fungi of Australia’s website introduces you to the basics of fungi such as the mushrooms, puffballs, stinkhorns, polypores, truffles and more. The associated Fungimap project has an online field guide to assist in identification.
If you have had success with identifying unknown specimens using other methods, let us know and we can add it to the list.
For more information:
- Read Our top tips on species identification blog
- Learn about Species Identification Keys
- There are some links to online plant identification tools on the Queensland Herbarium's website, which may be of use: How to identify specimens