Ability to "force" a merge of 2 or more individuals - manual merge

What Wildbook should this feature be in? All

What would you like to see?
Ability to select 2 Marked Individuals and merge them similar to the Merge functionality accessible when a match candidate and target encounter are of the 2 different individuals you want to merge, but without having to get a match first.

How would this functionality help you?
Currently the only 2 ways to merge marked individuals in Wildbook is to either:

  1. Get a match between the 2 on the match results page
  2. Manually un-assign each encounter from one individual and re-assign each to the other individual

Neither of these 2 solutions is ideal for situations where:

  1. There are no matches between the 2 individuals but the user knows the 2 are the same animal - for example, based on additional info provided in sightings; knowing that a left belongs to a right; or a user error creating a duplicate but separate ID for the same animal.

Un-hooking one or two encounters and re-assigning them isn’t a huge effort but some individuals can have many encounters assigned making it a ton of work without a match being made by the system between the 2 individuals.

A good example from one ACW user was this:
CH00006 had 31 images, all with RIGHT or hind as the primary viewpoint.
CH00091 had 84 images, all with LEFT or hind as the primary viewpoint.

The researcher worked out that they were the same male individual because it had been seen repeatedly with a single other male in multiple sightings, making it a male cheetah coalition of 2 individuals, not 3. At the time, in order to merge these 2 individuals, the user ran virtually every hind from both ID kits to eventually get match results between cheetah 6 & cheetah 91 in order to affect the merge. The alternative - removing and re-assigning all 31 of CH00006’s encounters to CH00091, wouldn’t have likely been a faster or easier process so both options currently available to merge individuals still don’t do enough to save users time in instances where no matches are found and many encounters are involved.

It would save a lot of time for many Wildbook users as merging individuals is not uncommon. In ACW’s case, the situation above, where some animals only have one viewpoint, is not unusual. And since the users process matches first, assigning IDs as they go, a large number of encounters can build up. For ACW users, determining if any of the ‘only-left’ or ‘only-right’ viewpointed, ID’d individuals belong together comes after match curation is completed, at the end of their data processing workflow.

I just noticed a support string from @CMKonrad that includes a similar issue with current merging functionality, if I’m not misunderstanding:


cc: @PaulK

1 Like

affirming this would be helpful in flukebook also.

1 Like

Chiming in here from another thread to let you know a manual merge is possible now.

I recently learned we can force a merge between individuals. I’ve added instructions on how to do it in our new Merge FAQ.