Appropriate way to have all of specific species IDs for an area reviewed?

In assisting with an ID, I came across a situation where it appears there may be a bunch of misidentifications - including some RG - of a particular butterfly. Is it appropriate to use “flag for curation” in this case?

The issue seems to arrive from the fact that those confirming or selecting the ID are not familiar with the climate of the area (most people have no clue there’s a huge desert in the Pacific Northwest). I initially made a misidentification on it (disagreeing with the observer) due the the prior misidentifications, but further research confirmed his ID.

The species (plus screenshot of area of questionable IDs):

The originating observation (includes discussion):

One misidentification that has since been corrected, with discussion:

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It sounds like you know the taxa in question pretty well. If you go to the Identify page, you can open up a search box that will allow you to narrow down the place and species, and if you click on Verifiable rather than Needs ID, you’ll see all of the observations that have been ID’d to that species. It might take a little while…

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It’s more that I made a misidentification then did some research as did another user and we found the issue. Currently going through manually to check each observation in the area using exactly the method you suggested minus “verifiable” because may as well try to fill in the record!

Flagging the species for curation is not a great option. It’s really used to bring up issues with the taxonomy, not the associated observations. There are likely only a handful of curators who have the knowledge / experience to do record level validation (on any specific species, not just this one). And curators are asked to follow the same standards for doing ID’s as all other uses on the site , which is to say only do an ID that they personally are capable of doing based on their knowledge.

Better to determine who the top identifiers of the species or genus are and send them a message, or tag them in one of the observations suggesting the species records get looked at.

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Thank you. The other user going through the record is, indeed a top identifier. :)


you will find this is a lot more prevalent in iNat than you would first think! I think it takes a critical mass of IDs before such misidentifications become apparent, and by then there is a number of identifiers that have been basing their IDs on the misidentifications! I have struck it myself… and the following is how I have dealt with it:

  1. notice the errant IDs amongst a number of observations
  2. research the taxa involved, and establish critical ID characters
  3. test the characters by challenging a few IDers in a few of the errant observations
  4. identify observers/identifiers that have expertise or experience, and engage them in discussion
  5. when certain of the positions, compose “snipets” that you can cut and paste to explain your ID challenges, including fair-use linking to images elsewhere on the internet where appropriate
  6. undertake the review of observations. Work methodically to cover all observations made to date, and take opportunities to inform and educate other identifiers of the characters involved, particularly where they respond via the ID challenges.
  7. remember that you don’t need to FIX the observations because they aren’t broken if they have the wrong ID… but you can add value by heading them in the right direction, and sharing your new found knowledge with others, so in other words, allow others to “come to their senses” of their own volition. :)
  8. bask in the knowledge that our collective view of the world is a little more in focus than it was before you started!
  9. and at all times keep in mind that even with all that careful research and preparation, you can still be wrong! (On one occasion I was… I’m over the embarassment now though…)

Well made and taken point. :)

We (because it definitely became a group effort!) had the great opportunity to have been the “just right” combination of an experienced observer/identifier, a native to a largely unknown-to-outsiders regional habitat, and an observer with access to experts in the species.

We, together, had the excitement of learning of the rascal subspecies causing the problem, having the ID confirmed by leading authorities, and correcting the record so that others can enrich it!

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