Having investigated several taxon flags questioning whether “Introduced” or “Native” is the correct status in a given place, it is clear that there are cases where that binary question just can’t be answered with any certainty. There is conflicting information, and/or a long history of human transport (since European contact), such that neither of those choices is appropriate.
Currently the only choice available for these situations is “Unknown.” But this is the initial default value before anyone has evaluated any other options. And it virtually begs for someone (anyone, in the current system) to make the binary Introduced/Native decision for that place (“Endemic” being a special case of Native). In controversial cases it is apparent that there have been unintended and sometimes conflicting results as different users have tried to make these choices.
With the high visibility of these choices on observation and taxon pages, we need another option, and “Uncertain” is the best one-word label I can think of (in English).
Definition of Uncertain: after evaluation of existing information, it cannot be determined whether the taxon is native, introduced, or possibly both, within the boundaries of the place.
In short, with respect to Introduced vs. Native,
- Unknown = not evaluated, or no information available.
- Uncertain = we have information that either or both conditions could apply in this place.
- Any user can change an Establishment Means to “Uncertain.”
- Only a Curator can change “Uncertain” establishment means to anything else. (the intent here being to encourage better sourcing and vetting of controversial establishment means designations, via discussion and comments in the checklist entries, etc.)
- “Apply establishment means to descendant places” should not be available for “Uncertain.” (I can be persuaded otherwise. But my thinking is that there should first be an attempt to resolve the question for a lower-level place before “locking” it as Uncertain.)
- Similar to the messages for Introduced taxa (symbol in pink)
– (!) Introduced in Nevada, US: Arrived in the region via anthropogenic means, or
– (!) Introduced in Nevada, US (Source List: Nevada Check List)
There should be a message for Uncertain taxa (symbol in yellow)
– (?) May be Introduced and/or Native in Nevada, US (Source List: Nevada Check List)
- It would also be nice if the place name in the message linked directly to the relevant checklist taxon entry, so we could just drop the extra “Source List” text.
Finally, I emphasized only one new category in the request title because we should probably keep it simple and not try to label every nuance and gray area we might think of. “Uncertain” can be a catch-all for those nuances, when Introduced or Native are not clear-cut.