Create a ID category called "mangroves" that captures the different families that make up mangrove species

Actually ‘butterflies’ does exist as it is a discrete taxonomic concept

I don’t know enough about mangroves to intelligently comment, but is it broader than this family?


My bad re: butterflies, maybe it’s just moths that is polyphylletic?

My understanding is there are several plant species that aren’t that closely related that are considered mangrove as they have a parallel ecological niche via evolutionary convergence.



Seems like a job for a project checklist and/or a life-form annotation (discuss any annotation ideas here).


This feature seems very unlikely to be implemented because it completely goes against inat’s usual reliance on strict taxonomic hierarchy in identification. If a ‘mangroves’ category was to be created, then countless other polyphyletic categories would be requested too, and it would completely change the entire identification system.


If all plants that count as mangroves have “mangrove” somewhere in the common name (and no plants that are not mangroves have “mangrove” somewhere in the name), then it should still be able to pull up this group using common names.

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Yeah, this isn’t a taxonomic concept we would go along with, it would open the floodgates. I would use a project or observation field to collate observations of these taxa.


It’s one of those “all butterflies are moths, but not all moths are butterflies” issues. Butterflies are pretty specific, but moths are essentially anything within the larger clade that’s not a butterfly.

Mangroves are different because they’re ecologically categorized and share distinctive characteristics as a result of convergent evolution. This results is something that you can look at and pretty much anyone can say, “Oh, that’s a mangrove,” based on the very obvious shared characteristics, but those mangroves all come from very different families.

They are so unique that it’s difficult for even people familiar with them to place them in the correct families, but they share such unique characteristics that they cannot me mistaken for anything other than “mangroves”.

This leads to an extremely frustrating situation where it’s very easy to narrow them down to a small subset of potential families in real-world practice, but that there is absolutely no way to do so within the confines of inat.

As @tiwane says (and as I said in the post), there isn’t a taxonomic category that captures this, but this is a somewhat unique situation that’s not shared by many other groups and it doesn’t seem to me that it would “open the floodgates”.

Off hand, the only other group that comes close with regards to this problem would be “succulents” or “trees”. In both of those situations a similar issue arises; plants from many families have evolved succulent characteristics (or a ‘tree’ form) and are unmistakable as such, but there is no formalized way of referring to them collectively, despite them being instantly recognizable as a group.

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many of the url hacks that give taxon as a parameter can take comma delimited lists of taxa. If you can identify the “families” or parent level taxa, perhaps a query string can be built from those.

Toward the end of this thread there was some discussion about possibly making a request to create searchable taxon-level user fields (and/or possibly system-defined annotations) analogous to the fields or annotations currently available at the observation level. I don’t think this was ever followed through with a formal feature request. But to my mind it would be better to track and query life forms and other taxon-level properties independently from the taxonomy itself.

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That’s a good idea, but it seems to be more of a help if you’re looking for species to ID rather than helping on the observation side of thing.

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Yes it’s considerably larger than Rhizophoraceae. Mangroves also include members of the Acanthaceae, Lythraceae, Combretaceae, and Arecaceae families.

Rather than being lumped within one family they’re groups more by ecological role and shared characteristics. Mangroves of very different families will often look more similar to each other than they do to other non-mangrove members of their own family.


Thanks, not something I know much about, no real reason to learn them as they’re not really an issue in either Canada or Denmark where I have lived.

I’ve used collection projects to act as a non-monophyletic taxon before. I’ve seen one for moths, and I’ve made one for non-apid bees. They’re essentially custom filters.


Screenshot_20191003-051624 This was from a question I had. I feel as though this appies here as well. iNat has a feature where it’s possible to create a species complex which might be what you’re referring to.

I feel like such a thing can be useful (so you can add coarse ids to the entity which a collection project can’t help with. However my impression was that inat staff didn’t want us to create big broad groups like that. Maybe this has changed ?

Yes, they are supported / permitted, but only in cases where they fit into the Linnean hierarchy used by the site. They can’t sit outside that. It is designed to support effectively genus based groupings.

From that documentation:
’ As of January 2019, " complex ", a taxonomic rank between genus and species, may be used (more specifically, between subsection and species)’

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I feel as though they still would prefer if individuals didn’t. But there are situations where it’s perfectly appropriate to do so which is why there’s a feature to do so. I believe this is something that should be done by legit experts in that taxon.

Honestly, there’re quite a few limitations with Linnaean taxonomy and this is one. However, as genetic testing is becoming more prevalent it’s getting corrected.

It would be best to see separate placeholders for various types of butterflies, such as sulphurs.

Based on this topic and other similar threads, an alternate and more general proposal is now posted here: