Casual observations not counted in taxon page can lead to inactivating taxa as they appear to have no observations

I spend a bit of time cleaning up ungrafted taxa, of which there seems to be a never-ending stream.

I’ve come across a problem just recently, when an ungrafted taxon has one or more, but only casual-grade observations. Calling up the taxon page (with no filters aded) shows zero observations under the ‘LAST OBSERVATION’ and ‘TOTAL OBSERVATIONS’ headers. Is this expected behaviour?

As part of my workflow cleaning up ungrafted taxon, I first look up whether the taxon already exists within iNat. If it does, and the new ungrafted taxon has zero observations, I usually just edit the taxon page to invalidate the taxon. If there are observations, I merge the taxon into the correct existing one.

If the taxon is not in iNat already, I use POWO to determine, if posible, what the current name of the taxon should be. If the taxon is invalid and there are no observations, I again usually just invalidate the taxon, rather than carry out a taxon merge. Usually invalid records are invalid in a number of ways (i.e. multiple valid scientific names, etc), and invalidating these seems the most time-efficient way to deal with them.

Because the taxon page shows zero observations when there are in fact one or more casual-grade observations (but none verifiable), I am potentially invalidating taxa that contain observations (casual only), since I cannot see those obs from the taxon page.

Is there a better way of doing this?

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2 posts were split to a new topic: What does casual grade mean?

There is, though it is not as convenient. In the following URL, substitute the taxon number of interest:

This will find any active IDs of the taxon, regardless of DQAs in the observations to which they are attached, and regardless of the active or inactive status of the taxon.

If any come up, then a taxon change is in order to deal with the invalid taxon. If none, then just editing and inactivating the taxon is fine.


Thanks @jdmore,

That’s going to be useful! On a side note, there’s a clear pattern with a lot of ungrafted plant taxa: many appear to have 2 valid scientific names. When one looks them up in POWO, one is a synonym of the other, and the second often already exists within the iNat taxonomy.

It looks as though the auto-importer realises that the name is not a currently accepted name, and then attempts to ad the currently accepted name, but often leaves both listed as valid names. In most of these, the invalid name is a species and the current valid name is at subspecies rank, or vice versa. In most cases the lack of grafting seems to happen when the valid infraspecies is created as a species (one cannot graft a species to a species…).

Has anyone else observed this?

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My impression has been that these ungrafted taxa get created when someone tries to look up a name, doesn’t find it, uses the “Search External Name Providers” option, finds and selects it, and iNat isn’t able to resolve a single parent taxon for it.

This may happen intentionally when someone doesn’t like the synonym being offered by iNaturalist, or it may just be that the name being imported hasn’t yet been added to the appropriate iNat accepted taxon as a synonym, so nothing comes up when they type it in.

Again this is just my impression – maybe there are other causes that someone can clarify.