How To: Grafting a Taxon

As a new curator, I’ve been learning how to do curatorial tasks under the guidance of @jdmore. I thought that newer or potential future curators might appreciate this guide we put together (with additional help from @bouteloua).

If y’all are interested in more of these How To guides, please let me know. It’s educational for me just to put them together.

Also, if you have recommendations for improvements, caveats, etc., please say so – I can edit the guide appropriately. Do keep in mind that it’s supposed to be generalized, not to go into every detail and potential situation.

  1. Find an ungrafted taxon: in the Ungrafted Taxa box on your iNat dashboard, click “Curate Taxa” and scroll down to view a longer list. Or use this link for a more user-friendly display.

  2. Check to see whether the taxon or its parent taxon have any open flags. Open flags are listed at the top of each taxon page. You can also use the Flag search tool to see all flags on a taxon and its descendants. If there are open flags, you may need to wait and coordinate with the flagger and any curators working on the issue. But otherwise, continue on…

  3. Search for the taxon in iNat’s taxonomic authority for that group (such as Plants of the World Online for vascular plants) to determine if it matches their current taxonomy, and what the accepted parent taxon is**. Here are a few common situations and how to proceed:

A) The ungrafted taxon and its parent match and are accepted in their list: click Curation>Edit taxon, and “graft” it to its parent taxon by entering the Parent Name. Scroll to the bottom and Save.

B) If it is listed as a synonym, you can either just inactivate the taxon (if there are no IDs currently using the name!) or create a taxon change to replace the synonym with the accepted taxon. If you have inactivated the taxon, add the synonym to the active taxon as an inactive scientific name.

To check if there are any IDs, go to (substitute the relevant taxon ID number). Learn more about taxon changes here, and be sure to cite your sources.

C) If the taxon is part of a “locked” group, such as birds or mammals, only Taxon Curators can add new accepted taxa. If it is a synonym, any curator can commit taxon changes to merge synonyms into existing, accepted taxa.

D) If the taxon has a rank of order or coarser, only staff can graft the taxon.

E) Other, such as an “unplaced name”, not listed in the authorities database, or the group is not covered by a taxonomic authority - you may need to do some more background research before proceeding. Consider flagging the taxon and asking top observers or identifiers of related species for their expertise on the subject.

** If the parent taxon does not currently exist on iNat, you may have to create it before proceeding. See this page for guidance.

  1. (bonus) After you have removed the taxon from the Ungrafted Taxa list, now is a good time to check whether it or the accepted name has an appropriate Taxon Framework Relationship (if applicable to the group). Learn more about Taxon Frameworks here.

wondering whether to swap steps 2 and 3 since you may have to check for flags not only on the ungrafted taxa and its not-accepted parent, but also on its accepted parent and potential synonyms.

Final steps:
If it’s a species or subspecies, and you can reasonably do so with reliable information, add it to checklists to populate the status tab and map it. Check its conservation status, and add that if relevant. Finally, curate the photos for the front page of the taxon by adding from observations (there are unlikely to be any RG at this point), Flickr, or Wikimedia Commons.

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A post was split to a new topic: How do we graft this taxon - Merrillanthus?