A taxon not in iNat: what to do?

I’ve been going through the old Unknown observations and have run across a couple of instances where the observer gives a scientific name that’s not in our known taxa. Somehow a taxon was added but not inserted into the proper place. For example, this one: https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/922030-Lacmellea-standleyi

It seems like I ought to tell someone to get it cleaned up, but I don’t know how or who. What is the process for that?

I can’t actually ID the plant well enough to say we actually need to create it but I’m sure there’s someone who does. The genus is not associated with any projects, so I don’t know how to identify a curator.

Here is another observation where a new taxon is suggested. Seen from her observation list:
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/24018060

The observation is different if viewed by way of a search from Identify of unknowns:
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/identify?page=3&iconic_taxa=unknown&order_by=observed_on&order=asc

I am befuddled.

Go to the page for the parent taxon (genus Lacmellea)

  • On the Taxonomy Tab, click Curation at right
  • Select Flag for Curation
  • Type in a brief reason (“please add Lacmellea standleyi”)
  • Click Flag It!
  • If you have any more information to add, click on the link to the newly created flag near top of page, and add a comment to the flag.

In this case the flag already existed, created by the system because Apocynaceae is currently a locked family, requiring curators to manually add any new taxa. I went ahead and added the species and resolved the flag.

Note that site curators are different from project curators. Site curators are needed for most taxonomic changes, and will be alerted when a taxon is flagged.

3 Likes

I am apparently not seeing the same view of Unknowns that you are, since the sets of observations we have reviewed are different. Can you be more specific about what difference(s) you are seeing? Or maybe provide screen shots?

@jbecky - just some background, cases like the species you highlighted where it was not properly assigned into the taxonomic tree are almost always caused by people creating new species using the EoL or CoL lookup tools, which dont always properly allocate the species.

Generally, they are actually automatically flagged as the system realizes they are unassigned, and even if that does not take place, there is a widget that all curators see on their home dashboard that lists them for resolution. So they generally get looked at fairly quickly. In some cases they are in one of the locked families of like (birds, mammals etc) so it has to wait for an assigned family curator to do it. In many cases they are synonyms, spelling errors etc that eventually get merged away.

3 Likes

That also provides a hint on what to do with species where the name is not in the taxonomy - first of all try typing the species name into the box and selecting ‘Search external name providers’. If the species is available to be imported, clicking ‘View’ on the name from the resulting drop-down will add it to iNat’s taxonomy. It might turn up unassigned to a family, but as @cmcheatle says, that’s easy for a curator to fix.

If its not available at all, worth checking to see if its a synonym before using a flag to ask for the missing taxon it to be added to the right family / genus.

Thank you for helping with those older Unknowns! Much appreciated. We have a little project here with the overall intent of getting more flowering plants identified in our focal countries - https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/unknowns-of-naturemap - so well aware how much there is to tackle.

4 Likes