This may be hopelessly complicated to implement, but I thought it would worth the ask based on several recent discussion threads (linked below), and since analogous basic functionality already exists for observations. (I think somebody once said “dream big”… )
- Allow user-defined and -maintained fields and field values for taxa, analogous to current observation field functionality.
- At least one such field already exists: taxon names.
- Make taxa, observations, and IDs searchable/filterable by presence/absence of one or more taxon field or field value, at least via URL hacks.
- Require all taxon fields to accommodate multiple defined values, to properly handle the results of taxon swaps and merges, and also for taxa that truly have multiple states for a particular category.
Consider requiring curator approval to define new fields or field values, to temper the proliferation of duplicate/overlapping fields currently plaguing observation fields.
- Provide basic search capability sufficient to support detection and management of duplicates.
- Allow fields to be applied at any taxonomic level (maybe only by curators above, say, Family level).
- For search purposes, child taxa would inherit the current field value(s) of their immediate parent taxon, unless explicitly contradicted by adding different value(s) to the child taxon.
- (here’s the craziest part…) Allow defined taxon fields and values to be applied directly to observations also, allowing observers and identifiers to label and search for observations (especially unknowns) in non-taxonomic categories such as “mangrove” or “lichen” or “tree” or “seaweed.”
- This can be done with current observation field functionality, but would probably be better if tied to a more curated set of taxon categories instead.
The general use-case would be to allow the community to more easily label, search, and/or identify non-hierarchic groups of taxa like lichen-forming fungi or mangrove-forming plants or parasites or venomous animals or carnivorous plants, independently of and in addition to the regular hierarchic taxa.
I expect folks could find all kinds of other useful applications for the functionality that I haven’t thought of.
- Consider later identifying the most useful taxon fields for conversion to taxon annotations analogous to current observation annotations, and have a path in place for migrating the former to the latter if and when decided by staff.