Curators: Guide to Taxon Framework Relationships



I’m pretty familiar with the taxon frameworks from having worked on them when they were still not in full rollout. I know you aren not the author of the cited link, but one line near the bottom seems odd. Specifically :

‘A well curated Taxon Framework should have all taxa properly mapped to the External Reference. That is to say, there should be no internal taxa with unknown relationships.’

That seems to suggest, maybe I am reading it wrong, that a properly curated Taxon Framework has no deviations. But I thought that deviations that are reviewed and accepted scientifically and / or by the iNat community were acceptable.

For example I am a taxon curator, if someone has requested a new species which has just been described, with the reference I am willing to add it and note the reason for the deviation is that the external defined source has not yet caught up to the publications.

But that line seems to indicate this is inappropriate.

Am I not reading it properly, or does it need to be flushed out about what and when an acceptable deviation is ?

I think it’s just not worded clearly. The point is to have no “unknown” relationships. You can “map” the deviation to the external reference, even if it’s just saying that it’s not in that reference. Moving the bar from “we don’t know whether or not its in POWO” (unmapped, unknown) to “we know it’s not in POWO and accept that” (mapped deviation).

I interpreted it as poorly worded as well, but wanted to make sure. It should emphasize a properly curated taxa has no undocumented deviations, not that it has no taxa not mapped to the external reference, at least that is my sense.

I just tried to add a new spider genus so that I can transfer some common species there, per the WSC. I got an error message that I have to contact the taxon curator. I think I knew at one point who that was for Arachnids, but I can’t figure out where that information is anymore. In other taxa, do curators generally send a DM, discuss activities and needs in their working groups, or does it totally depend on the person and group?

I will look at it today (I am a spider curator), can you please post or send privately details of what you were trying to do.

If you go to any spider taxon page, go to the Taxonomy tab and click Taxonomy Details on the right side.

Then click “taxon framework for order Araneae” and it will list the taxon curators.

You can also view all frameworks relationships at

Thank you both! I am trying to add the genus Trichonephila (, where seven species of Nephila were recently moved, including the oft-observed Nephila clavipes.

i will try and look at this ASAP. Do you know if it was a complete transfer of N. clavipes, or was it a split, and if so, is the geographic breakdown detailed somewhere.

It is a national holiday this weekend in Canada, so weather permitting, I’m not sure how much I will be inside, but will try to do a quick stab.

Complete transfer

@tigerbb - this is all done. Please note 2 things:

  • because of the number of records it may take some time for all the observation transfers to process
  • because of the almost 5000 records that would be impacted, for clavipes, I’ve drafted the change, but just sent a note to the staff to see if a backend process would be safer or more efficient than the taxon change process that I have access to. If they say not, then I will simply commit the change.

Thank you for handling that @cmcheatle. Now that the genus is created, can I take care of the other six species that need to be transferred?

Edit: Never mind. I was thinking you meant you took care of it for clavipes, but it is all done. Thank you again! :blush:

Apologies for resurrecting an old thread, but it seemed more appropriate than creating a new one just to continue the discussion.

How do we capture taxon framework relationships when the external authority (e.g. POWO for plants) does not list the autonym but accepts infraspecific taxa?

For example, Atherosperma moschatum subsp. integrifolium is accepted by POWO as valid, but it does not have an entry for Atherosperma moschatum subsp. moschatum.

Do we just link to the parent species (which by definition is the same taxon as the autonym)? If so, will this create a deviation?

Nomenclaturally this is correct, but conceptually the parent species, in iNat and in POWO, includes more taxa than just the autonym, so they are different in that sense.

This is a good question, and I may or may not have been approaching it correctly, but what I have been doing is creating a “not external” deviation (external taxon left blank), and adding a note to the TFR something to the effect of “autonym not yet reflected in POWO.”

Will be interested to hear if there is a different approach that would make more sense.

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When POWO does include another infraspecific taxon but not the autonym, I just pretend it also includes the autonym, so that it matches rather than deviates.


Guess I have sometimes taken that approach too, now that I think of it. Would be curious to know if @loarie has a preference.


Exactly the same approach I have taken (doing it as a deviation with a note as to reason).