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


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?

bringing this back since it appears the specific epithet complex has recently(?) disappeared from Oedipina complex, which now simply displays as Oedipina

Just tagging on - in the other flag i mentioned some ‘insect’ which i now found again - Family Noctuidae, Genus Libystica

Libystica -complex-

Which is the exact same insect cause of this thread starting, now long ago.