Can't create species with epithet "complex"

Platform (Android, iOS, Website): web

URLs (aka web addresses) of any relevant observations or pages:

Step 1: Go to and try to create a species which has the name Libystica complex

(It was originally described under a different genus, but the epithet really is complex)

Step 2: Save taxon.

Step 3: Notice that the word complex was removed, the taxon is just called Libystica.

(reported in


Others may know the full answer, but I wonder if part of the cause is that species complexes also exist separate from species, e.g. Complex Lasioglossum pilosum, and/or that the system thinks complex is a homonym being used more than once.

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I bet it’s because people were appending “complex” and “group” to the scientific names for species complexes for a while (e.g., Complex Condylostylus sipho group), before iNat adopted an official style recommendation. Now you aren’t supposed to add any extra words, and maybe this is a way to try to curb that behavior automatically.

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This isn’t a question of why iNat is removing the epithet – it’s absolutely because complex is a rank name, see

The issue is that this is a legitimate name, and it’s not the only one with this epithet:

I support stripping ranks from taxon names in general, but it might be nice if there could be a message like “parts of this name were stripped automatically, if this was in error, please contact help@inat”.

At any rate, it’s definitely not an issue that curators can fix.


We could make an exception for “complex”. Are there any other words that should also be excepted?

I don’t think this counts as a bug because I think this is iNat working as intended, rather an unforeseen consequence. Let me know if I should put this elsewhere.

When trying to add two subspecies from this flag:

I’ve run into an issue, one of the subspecies Sceliphron fossuliferum complex cannot be properly saved as it deletes ‘complex’ from the name and saves it as Sceliphron ssp. fossuliferum.
I assume this is to prevent anyone from putting complex in the name of a complex but in this case the subspecies’ name is complex.

Is there a way to fix this or do staff need to edit/add the name?

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Welcome to the forum! I moved your post to this existing bug report. There is no way for a curator to fix this, but perhaps someone on staff will help out.

With regard to botanical nomenclature, “complex” is not a rank.

There’s a similar issue to this one: the web site Upload page ( strips the word “complex” from photo tags that include the word “complex”, such as Oedipina complex or Complex Fan-foot. This leads to a new observation receiving an incorrect initial ID, in similar fashion to how a new taxon containing “complex” becomes mis-entered.

Well… there’s Notsodipus domain, and Paralampona domain, both spiders. But we don’t use domains…

Is “group” not a useable term to use in place of “complex” to prevent this confusion with species or subspecies epithets using the name “complex”?

“Species group” was already proposed as a rank distinct from complex:

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Ok, maybe use complex in quotes or parentheses or some other small modification so it’s not confused with an epithet?

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Given that the issue is with people typing ‘complex’ into the name field when they shouldn’t I don’t think this is a solution. Perhaps just have a pop up with an explanation and an option to continue or not?