I’ve read several other threads on this topic, and I understand it’s a contentious issue. But the particular case I’m interested in seems to be confounded by several policies that are difficult to reconcile.
The case in hand: we are studying a plant with separate male and female individuals, which may differ slightly in phenology and distribution. They also frequently grow close together, and many folks don’t realize this is a dioecious species at all.
We would like to annotate observations so we can track males and females separately. Observations often have both sexes present, as here:
According to policy, this is incorrect, as each of the plants should be its own observation.
As I understand it, only the observer can make a duplicate record to split the male and female plants. The sex annotation only includes male, female, and unknown, none of which are correct. This leaves only one correct resolution: requesting the poster split/clone their observation so I can annotate each plant separately.
That seems tedious, and maybe a bit off-putting to the original poster. It would add an extra layer to our efforts to annotate specimens, if we have to contact many observers and wait for a response before completing the task.
I understand there is reluctance to allow annotations that would admit multiple individuals are present in a single observation, but in a case like this it would be very useful to check both male and female for the observation.
On a related note, in plants there are species in which individuals can be single sex or hermaphrodite, and having a bisexual/hermaphrodite category would be useful. In this case, there are, very rarely, actual hermaphrodite Rubus chamaemorus (i.e., individuals with perfect/bisexual flowers), and it would be very interesting to find one of those.
My preference would be to allow multiple sex annotations for a single observation (and also to add a hermaphrodite category). But if that’s not permissible, what would be the recommended approach here?