How to deal with observations that attain research grade, though only ID of the genus should be made?

This is just an example: The genus Flammulina. There are hundreds of observations, allegedly of F. velutipes, many of them have attained research grade. I am not an expert, but I have found out that there are a couple of species of Flammulina which can only be distinguished for sure using a microscope.

As a result, I claim that most of the observations mentioned above are uncertain and should only be identified to genus.

I suggest that I could make an ID for as many as I can overcome (primarily the newest ones) and add this comment:

“Flammulina velutipes can only be distinguished from other F. species by using a microscope. I accept your ID if you can veryfy characteristics, e.g. the length of the spores.”

Please give me some advice.

This is a good rationale for adding an identification at the genus level and saying that in the comments. Disagreeing with the previous identifications will set it to Flammulina.


I agree with @mertensia : identifying the observation to genus while disagreeing with the species will kick it up to genus and remove the research grade designation. I usually do this without explanation since it is time-consuming and there is a certain logic to the action by itself. I’m sure users would appreciate your explanation, however.


You can’t disagree if you can’t prove the species is not one in id, try leaving comments but knowing Flammulina situation it’s gonna be hard work.

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At the bottom of the observation page, or in the Data Quality page in the Identify area, there is a box you can check that says “No, this ID can be improved” or something like that. I’m pretty sure that will make something that is Research Grade go down to Needs ID.


Consider that the observer may have had the specimen identified using more information than they’ve given you, e.g. habitat, behaviour, or later dissection. Ask questions of the observer.

If you personally don’t know what species it is, but there is enough info (macro shots or the like) that someone else could possibly identify it, ID as genus but don’t disagree.

If you know with certainty that it is in the genus but not the species of previous IDs, make a disagreeing genus ID and optionally write in the comments that it is not species x (and also why, if you have the time).

If you know with certainty that the ID cannot be made to species, and only to genus, use a disagreeing genus ID and also go to the last Data Quality Assessment question and check “No”, it cannot be improved.


Visible characters can sometimes be insufficient but in the case of fungus (and some other) species the host species also clarifies ID. I believe this can be the case for Flammulina (although I am no expert).

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One easily can (and, in my opinion, should) disagree if one feels that not enough evidence was given for the ID – in this case, a species level ID.


Sadly, no. Not in the case of Flammulina.

A number of sources I’ve used indicate that Flammulina populicola, for example, is found on western Populus species only and that other Flammulina are not. Is this incorrect?

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Mostly on Populus, but not exclusively. F. rossica can be found on Populus and Salix, also on other deciduous trees. Same with other Flammulinas. They may have preferences for the hosts, but not exclusive.


iNat identifications are based on community ID, ie the concensus of what the community thinks it is.

If you can see evidence that it is NOT that species then you can disagree explicitly (the orange option if it asks “the question”), but it helps if you also comment as to why you think it isn’t.

If you think it should be bumped back a level or so due to lack of evidence, then you should make an ID at the appropriate level (and choose the green option when it asks) AND start a discussion with the aim of convincing them that they should also change their IDs accordingly. You have to remember that they may have been privy to more evidence than you yourself are seeing… or maybe they know something that disambiguates the possibilities that you are not aware of…

But… if they are not responsive to the discussion, or if you have had the conversation with the community at large on other observations and they also agree with you, then you can consider making the ID an explicit disagreement on the basis that it is “over-reaching”. It’s a good idea to add a comment to that effect though.

I have myself made explicit disagreements with IDs that I think are over-reaching, even though I have not been part of any community discussion about the over-reaching nature of them… but I will always add a comment indicating that I am explicitly disagreeing only on that basis of over-reach AND that I believe others would agree with me, and that if the observer or other identifiers can give reason for me not to do so, I would happily remove my explicit disagreement.

One thing that really get’s my iNat hackles up, is when someone holds onto an explicit disagreement for over-reach, despite my having asserted my confidence in my finer ID… the very opposite of “the community would agree with me”, as I am asserting that I for one don’t… it feels very much like they are dismissing me as “not a part of the community”.


Yes, I was doing that earlier this week. A lot of people seem to be under the impression that every Royal Palm is Roystonea regia. Not so; in Cuba, there are three native Roystonea species. So when I saw IDs of “Roystonea regia” in Cuba, I bumped it back, and asked why not one of Cuba’s three native species.


No, it’s against the rules. Disagreeing is only for when you can say it’s not species X. In most cases there’s no need to add disagreement, active users are mostly ok with changing their ids if you leave comment, in fact they sometimes do that even when you didn’t want them to.

There’s a fair bit of room for interpretation on this guideline. “ID cannot be made to species, and only to genus” based on the evidence presented or based on visual/audio evidence being known to be inadequate without microscopic, internal or some other sort of specialized examination? I’ve had photographs bumped to genus because the IDer felt that my photo didn’t show the evidence needed to make the discrimination and I thought that was reasonable. If I correctly understand @melodi_96 's response

bumping to genus for that reason is inappropriate. Am I just confused or are there conflicting interpretations of the rules being proposed here?

I’d say in any topic where it’s discussed people are proposing that method, I know for inactive users where they will never change their id it’s the only way to change id, but still it is out of guidelines.

@melodi_96 @pmeisenheimer

this from Scott Loarie way back when the disagreements were being looked at (in June of 2019!!!):

note the bits about “should be rarely used”, “when there is community agreement”, etc etc…

So my interpretation has always been that we should only be rolling back IDs with explicit disagreements for over-reaching IDs if:

the identifier (although Scott used “observer”) is not responsive to a challenge
the community consensus is that it is an over-reach
there is good reason to err on the side of caution.

I also consider community concensus to cover situations where you legitimately believe the community WOULD agree, if the conversation were to take place.

I also consider out of range identifications to qualify for erring on the side of caution. In fact, I would almost assert that if an explicit disagreement is being considered, then it’s a good bet that erring on the side of caution is probably applicable.

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Cool! Though with Flammulina it seems too much to disagree, one species is still very common and most of observations will be of that species, and we’re either doing big job on disagreeing with 5k obs (99% of them have no microscopic proof) or don’t do that at all, situation when one user can’t use this id, while another one can should be avoided. I think now this is a situation similar to Taraxacum in terms of community knowing what’s the deal.

In some cases, eg Euphorbia nutans / hyssopifolia in some parts of their range, the species are completely indistinguishable unless you have mature seeds. I’m talking about that sort of thing. Not technically impossible but it’s very unlikely that the observer has collected seeds.