Identifying Before Upcoming Taxonomic Changes

Micraspis discolor is a widely distributed species, occurring throughout much of Asia. Recently, the status of this species outside India has come into question, with DNA sequences suggesting south and southeast Asian specimens belong to a different or to-be described species. These findings were published in 2023, so it’ll be awhile before this situation is resolved.

That leaves me with the issue of how to properly identify ‘Micraspis discolor’ for the time being. Most observations of this species are outside India and I’m wondering if I should continue to identify them to the genus or put them at species-level and wait for the change to occur.

Which option will make the future change easier to implement on iNaturalist? Thanks in advance!

Source:
Identity of the ‘true’ Micraspis discolor (Fabricius) (Coleoptera, Coccinellidae) with illustrated diagnostic notes on other Micraspis spp. in Indian paddy fields

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For these I actually make an Excel file for them under the name binomial + sensu lato with all the observation under a complex or a new paper is coming underway. That way when the new findings are published I can actually go through all of these observations and give a new ID. If I know for sure the changes will come very soon I would state that in the comment and give a genus ID only.

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I would keep identifying as the one species, and then you can split it when the different species are formally named. This will be pretty painless if they are geographically separated.

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My usual attitude it to keep identifying things under the current taxonomy - otherwise you create two groups of observations that will need to be treated differently when the change occurs. If the split is likely to be geographical, a taxon split performed correctly will deal with them all easily. It’s a bit more complex where there’s range overlap and where the differences are morphological and you can already see that this observation will be in ‘new species’ one day. You could try creating an observation field for it?

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It may not even need an observation field; an identification of the current name with a notation in the comment field of sensu lato would probably be sufficient. As noted above, if there is truly geographic separation the curators can handle that when the taxon are split.

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Thanks for the replies! I’ll ID them as Micraspis discolor going toward.

@lothlin, what do I fill in the sensu lato field with; “Micraspis discolor”?

Seems to work for me. I’m not a bug person though, so there may be a different accepted standard

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It’s my first time doing something like this, I want to be sure I’m doing it correctly :)

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