How to Remove Subspecies

I’m a curator but have rarely used my powers because I’m a little intimidated/scared I’ll screw something up. BUT there’s a change in a taxon that I’m interested in and thought I would take the opportunity to ask for advice and expand my skills.

The green anole (Anolis carolinensis) used to have two subspecies, A. c. seminolus and A. c. carolinensis. However, these have long been suspected of being invalid, and genetic research over the past 8 years has confirmed this. The subspecies have been dropped by SSAR and the most recent version of the Reptile Database (iNat’s taxonomy authority for reptiles) has dropped them as well. I’d like to remove these subspecies (since they tend to be confusing for some users) and collapse all observations to just A. carolinensis. What’s the best way to remove these subspecies?

Thanks for any help!

1 Like

You can’t. Even though you are a curator, reptiles are among the groups on the site which are locked taxa, which means that only specially designated curators for that group may make any changes to their taxonomy.

You can see if a group is locked by following the taxonomy details link on the taxonomy tab, which on Green Anole would take you here

And then click on the covered by a taxon framework for link which will then go in this case to the reptiles information, and at the bottom if there are taxon curators for the group they will be listed. In this case there is a single person who may make changes to the reptile taxonomy on the page.

Other locked groups include (may not be complete) Birds, Mammals, Ray-finned Fish, Spiders, Dragonflies, Amphibians, I believe a couple of plant families (but very few if that is the case)

All you can do is flag it for curation for the designated taxa curator to review.


If you would like to try your hand on some plants, I have a non-controversial suggestion. The varieties of need to be sunk into the species. There is only one affected observation, and it’s in the autonymous variety (var. tectorum).

Varieties tectorum and glabratus need to be merged into the species Bromus tectorum, per the taxonomic framework for plants, Plants of the World Online. The merge should have two input taxa (the varieties) and one output taxon (the species).

Variety hirsutus does not appear to exist as a published name per IPNI, and has no identifications. So that taxon should just be edited and set to inactive, and not included in the merge.

Normally we would communicate on this via a taxon flag and/or private message, but this seems like a good opportunity to reveal some of the “sausage-making” on the Curator forum if you are willing.

So feel free to post any questions that come up, and post a link to your draft taxon merge when you have it set up. It all starts here:

And one more note – thank you for your caution and for reaching out! Changes that involve lots more existing observations, or other potential sources of controversy, should definitely be approached carefully and with collaboration before being committed.


For the record, any curator can set up a Taxon Change, and it seems as though @bouteloua already has for this particular case (viewable here). It just takes getting the attention of a Taxon Curator.

For Reptiles, @loarie is unfortunately the only Reptile curator right now so all Changes need to be committed through him. It would be great if we got more hands involved who would be willing to learn some of the tools involved with curating Frameworked Taxa. It’s a little more involved than curating sections of our tree that lack external authorities, like Diptera or Bacteria. Mammals currently have a number of Taxon curators (4, including Scott Loarie) and I think curation of Framework Taxa would run a lot more smoothly if we could get more hands involved with other sections of the tree (e.g. Birds, Amphibians, Fish, and Reptiles).


I’m not 100% clear on this, can any curator set up any change ? If the required species are in place, then yes, I believe you can set it up in draft mode, but for example if the change requires the creation of a new species then you can’t do that - correct ?

Thanks for all the great info everyone. Looks like @bouteloua submitted a draft change for my taxon (awesome!). And thanks @jdmore for sending out an example for me to try. The draft that I made is here.

I also made hirsutus inactive.

If I did something wrong (or could do something better), please let me know!


You can definitely add new taxa to locked branches, such as in order to draft a taxon change. They just need to be inactive.


if the change requires the creation of a new species then you can’t do that - correct ?

Not correct. Any curator can create a new taxon under a Frameworked branch as long as it is inactive and below the rank of Order. The same goes for the output taxon/taxa in a Taxon Change.

EDIT: You can make an inactive taxon at the rank of Order or above for a Frameworked Taxon too. You just won’t be able to move it after creating it.

1 Like

@cthawley That all looks good for Bromus tectorum, I think you can commit the merge.

Done! Thanks for the tutorial and for the other comments…very instructive.

1 Like

@cthawley Thank YOU for wanting to learn and help with the curatorial workload!

One thing that is always my final task with any taxon changes is checking the Taxon Framework Relationship (TFR) for each final output taxon, to make sure it exists, and that it correctly details the appropriate Match or Deviation status from the iNat framework standard for that group. This is most easily accessed via Taxonomy Details on the Taxonomy Tab of the taxon page.

For Bromus tectorum the appropriate TFR was already in place, so nothing needed to be done. But if you look at it in edit mode (then cancel), you can at least see how it was set up for this species.