Help navigating a taxon change that isn't reflected in iNat

How does one navigate a scenario in which a taxon change has occurred, but it isn’t reflected in iNat?

In this instance, I have an Australian Zebra finch. Wikipedia tells me the two species of Zebra finch that were previously identified as subspecies are now recognised as distinct species.

According to wikipedia, my Australian Zebra finch is Taeniopygia castanotis, however iNat recognises it as a sub species instead, giving me Taeniopygia guttata ssp. castanotis.

How do I assess which is “correct”? If iNat isn’t correct, how do go about seeing if there is a taxon change “in the works” or suggesting/submitting a change if there isn’t?

Historically, I’ve been a photographer with an interest in birds more than a birder, and my knowledge of taxons and clades etc extends only so far as it helps me organise my keywords in Lightroom. I have basically zero knowledge on who the authorities are, how to assess which one is correct, which one to use etc…

I also know that this probably opening pandora’s box, but what can you do? ;)

You can read more about iNat’s taxonomy polices in the Curator Guide, but here is a relevant section:

External Taxonomic Authority List

Birds (Aves)
The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World as a global reference with explicit deviations outlined here. This authority applies to all bird taxa between class and subspecies.

[Edit: In this case, the Clements Checklist lists the Australian Zebra Finch as a subspecies.]

If the iNat taxonomy isn’t in line with the stated external taxonomic authority, you should navigate to the taxon page and click on the “curation” button (about halfway down the webpage on the right) to see if there are any active flags.


If there are no relevant flags, you may create a flag with a detailed explanation, preferably with external sources linked.


Thanks! So basically, I don’t need to know the answers? I can just flag it, point people at the evidence that I found, and then let people who know more about assessing authoritative sources for bird taxons proceed?

Do I get notifications/replies etc to my flag?

1 Like

I would only flag it if the iNat taxonomy is out of line with its stated external sources. In this case, The Clements Checklist lists the Australian Zebra Finch as a subspecies. Many specifics of taxonomy are not universally agreed upon, which is why iNat lists a specific authority for taxa when possible and outlines any explicit deviations from that authority.


1 Like

Thanks! That clears things up nicely

This topic was automatically closed 60 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.