How do iNat Taxonomy Details map to POWO's taxonomy (or vice versa)?

Generally, I’m hoping to understand the details of how iNaturalist maps to POWO taxa. But specifically (or by way of example) I’m attempting to understand what I’m seeing in the taxonomy details for Molluginaceae.

iNat’s taxonomy details page says that POWO has an alternate parent for the family (Phylum Tracheophyta) compared to iNaturalist (Order Caryophyllales).


However, when viewing the taxon page in POWO, I see a section that indicates that the family has Caryophyllales as its immediate parent.


Can someone help me understand the discrepancy? Is POWO’s classification tree that includes ranks besides just species, genus, and family a new thing we have not incorporated into whatever processes underlie the taxonomy details page? And/or is the taxon details page in iNaturalist simply out-of-date? Is the process for updating it (rather, this specific detail) an automated or manual process?

I’m trying to determine if the appropriate action here is a bug report, a taxon flag, or something else (possibly even no action).


I see that there are similar taxonomy framework deviations for many other plant families, all created by @loarie around the same date in 2021. Just a guess here… but maybe at that date POWO didn’t have a (complete) taxonomy at order level (in the same way as it currently lacks intermediate taxa such as subfamily or tribe).

Or maybe POWO did have a taxonomy at the order level in 2021, but iNat’s admins wanted to have more control over which high-level changes to accept and how to manage that.

I’m trying to determine if the appropriate action here is a bug report, a taxon flag, or something else (possibly even no action).

I doubt that there’s any action you need to take here, although raising the issue is useful for us to get a better idea of why these deviations are in place. I would assume that iNat admins are aware that most plant families are set up as deviations from POWO taxonomy even though POWO does now have a taxonomy that appears to match iNat’s at the order level.

(Note that POWO has a taxonomy at the class and subclass level that seems to be different than iNat’s, so deviations might still be needed there.)


POWO doesn’t actually have unique pages, with individual URLs, for names at ranks above family, so “Caryophyllales” can’t be entered into the taxonomy details for Molluginaceae.


Thank you, @rupertclayton and @choess for your responses. What you say makes sense, though I guess I still don’t understand how/why it’s still considered “correct” that the taxon page for Molluginaceae (or whatever family) indicating that POWO has a parent for it that’s not what POWO has as a parent for it.

How does the external taxon parent get specified? Is it just as manual as for the internal taxon? Or is that automated somehow? If that’s a manual process, wouldn’t it be more appropriate (at least moving forward) to indicate the following? (Using Molluginaceae as an example, differences from current reality in italicized bold text.)

Relationship: Match
iNaturalist: Family Molluginaceae (parent: Order Caryophyllales)
POWO: Family Molluginaceae (parent: Order Caryophyllales)

But then the relationship for Caryophyllales and above would continue to be considered a deviation, since there is no taxon page on POWOs side for it to be linked to?

Yeah pretty sure the Tree of Life project connection on POWO was implemented after most plant taxon framework relationships at that high of a level were added to iNat. So all families were automatically considered directly under “vascular plants” on POWO.


I guess Scott could update all of the taxon frameworks based on the Tree of Life taxonomy but I’m not sure how worthwhile that is

The internal iNat taxon parent is automatically generated in taxon frameworks.


Oh, I made a mistake. I forgot that you only need a URL for the external taxon in the relationship, not the external taxon’s parent.

So yes, it could be manually updated by editing the taxon framework; bouteloua’s answer covers it.