Improve (or remove) process for adding cascading conservation status

Platform: website

Description of need:
It is possible to add conservation status to higher taxa, such as families, that cascade down to all species in the taxon (for example). However, this has caused some recent issues. Conservation status for the Australian state of Queensland was added to all orchid species globally, and for Sweden, to all Cypripedium orchids globally. The problems this caused include:

  • creation of multiple duplicate, and in some cases conflicting, conservation status for the same species and region. Example:

  • many species for which collection is not a threat are now spuriously listed as threatened and obscured unnecessarily, including introduced species. Example:

  • addition of conservation status in places for species which do not occur in those places, creating unnecessary and inaccurate conservation status listings. Example of species endemic to Taiwan:

Feature request details:
There is a need to ensure that addition of bulk or cascading conservation status does not cause problems such as the above.

My suggestions are as follows:

  1. if addition of bulk/cascading status results in a duplicate or changed status for a species-place combination, these should be subject to individual review before being updated. The simplest would be for the process to fail for species that already have a conservation status listing, and for a list of such species to be generated for subsequent review

  2. conservation status should not be added to species that do not occur in the region in question. This could be managed by restricting the addition of conservation status to species that have an atlas that overlaps the relevant jurisdiction, but that might be a bit heavy-handed as many species are not atlased. An alternative would be to provide guidance to anyone submitting a request for bulk addition of conservation status that rather than submit a higher taxonomic group (e.g., Orchidaceae) that they generate a list of the species in the region of interest (e.g., Orchidaceae species that occur in Queensland) and that the bulk/cascading process is only applied to such species. If conservation status could only be applied to species, rather than higher taxa, this would help, although I can see a case for applying, e.g., CITES status to higher taxa globally.

  3. better editing tools to facilitate updating conservation status for many species at once would reduce the demand for these sorts of bulk/cascading status uploads.

  4. ability to “follow” a conservation status so that users can be alerted of any changes (this would also address issue raised here).

EDIT: Note that the cascading status entries are now shown more clearly, which is a positive change, but despite this, the additional proposals outlined are worth considering.

I’d like to add a bit to this, as I’ve been learning more about how cascading conservation status works. I’ve realised it’s not just a time-saving tool, but people want to obscure observations identified at higher taxonomic levels, when most or all of the constituent species need obscuring. So my suggestion #3 would maybe not help much.

I suspect my suggestions #1 and #2 above are not viable, because the status is applied to the higher taxonomic level and there is no way to then prevent it from applying to all of the children.

So it might make more sense to address this through better visualisation of conservation status, as @kueda indicated on one of the flags. One option would be to separate taxon-specific conservation status listings from those inherited from higher taxa, into two separate lists. For example, “Conservation Status”, and then another section, “Conservation Status inherited from higher taxa”.

This would be easier to read, and would help in situations such as the following - a subspecies endemic to Hawai’i which has inherited a whole range of irrelevant conservation statuses from its parent species from other parts of the world. Only 4 of these 16 status entries are of any relevance to this subspecies, but it’s hard to pick out which when the list shows them all jumbled together:

Screenshot 2023-03-10 at 18-50-13 Subspecies Gallinula galeata sandvicensis (Hawaiian Gallinule)

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