"Introduced" icon - change the (!) to an (i)

Edited for clarity: I suggest changing the bright pink introduced symbol to a purple (i) or (*), or something that people here think is better, because the red exclamation point implies that action is needed, or that there is some immediate threat.


I have a question about the “introduced” icon - does iNaturalist have the potential to cause harm when there is a pink exclamation point marking introduced species?

For me, the (!) symbol indicates danger, and the red urgency. In the past, when I was just learning about invasive species, I might have taken that as an invitation to pull a weed.

Maybe the “introduced” icon could be an (i) or an asterisk - yellow? then upgraded to invasive/noxious (!) if flagged. For instance, dandelions are no big deal… why would we tell that to someone trying to learn about plants by flagging with a danger symbol?

Any introduced species is a danger, dadelions too.

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I think what @kathleensoler2 means by “danger” is that the organism can pose a direct threat to a human’s health and well-being - eg a venomous snake or a toxic mushroom.

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No to both - i mean that some species, while introduced, are not an urgent threat to an ecosystem, like dandelions in a city park. marking it with an exclamation point implies that some action needs to be taken.

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what harm would be done if it were pulled though? it doesn’t belong, even if its not an invasive that needs immediate action

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What if we chop down every gingko tree in North America? Those are introduced too, but we don’t need to do something about them, which the red exclamation point implies.

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Some other examples: GoBotany does purple and BONAP does blue, I think either of those would be an improvement over urgent exclamation point pink. Both do green for native species.

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Check #nature-talk for the discussion on dandelion taxonomy, and maybe start a new discussion, folks who want to discuss introduced vs. invasive – they’re totally different categories, and iNat doesn’t track the latter.

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For what it’s worth, I’ve never interpreted the exclamation point to mean that urgent action is necessary, I’ve always taken to mean “be aware that this is introduced”. But I can totally see how it can be interpreted as being more urgent. I’d be fine with an asterisk or something along those lines, in addition to a calmer color.

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I also always get slightly annoyed when I see that giant pink exclamation mark on species that were spread around Europe by the Roman empire and have had 2000 years to naturalize.

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which species would that be? My understanding is that only recently (i.e. in the modern era [1492?]) introduced species are considered as neobiota. Plants introduced by the Romans would be archaeophytes.

Back to the main topic, I also think a more decent symbol/coloration (as for example the ‘endemic’ label) would be sufficient. It is especially prominent in the small thumbnails of the species overview under places

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Let’s keep this discussion to the request at hand. Probably best to have a discussion about what “introduced” and “native” mean elsewhere.

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A part of that discussion Here. The criteria to flag as “introduced” is still obscure to me at least.

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I can see the point here if the exclamation point is being interpreted that way (“dangerous” or “kill this”), but I’ve never personally felt that it indicates danger…just “pay attention” or “heads up!”. I guess I would want to know if it is an issue for a fair amount of the user base before making a change (which would likely confuse at least some users at least at first).

If there is a change it might be best to only change either the colors or the symbol (and not both) for continuity’s sake or to keep any confusion to a minimum.

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They definitely need to be taken. Any introduced species is a threat to local biovercity, there’s a reason why people introduce Ichneumonoidea, because no predators exist in new place. Introduced species that become spread are better adapted than local species, if not - they die out. They take place of native species, declining their numbers and often become the reason of extinction of local species. Dandelions cover many square kilometres of the ground that could be covered in native species. And people must be aware of the danger.

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I like and have gotten used to the pink, and always thought it was an “i” for introduced! I have only noticed it is an exclamation mark because of this thread. If it were to change from pink, I would prefer it to be similar in colour area to pink (red? orange? but not blue or black, for instance). Maybe a “+” symbol to imply addition to the local fauna?

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what about an icon instead? - something like this: alienskull in purple or red.
leave off the bones for those wanting a distinction between introduced (no bones) and invasive (bones)

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What is important in my view is that a clear set of criteria for classification is defined. I think currently there is none and could not find any documentation as well

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@edolis I like the idea of the + sign for introduced.

@cthawley I’m not sure you’ll get a fair sample of beginner users because they do not use the forum, but I have seen the @inaturalist account on twitter respond to more people than just me who are confused by the symbol.

@melodi_96 Sticking to the topic at hand, do you trust a new inaturalist user to always know the difference between a native and introduced common, yellow flower? Sometimes the AI mislabels things.

I’m talking about the worst case scenario, not the average user case. And I’m also talking about the meaning implied, even if no one does anything about it. I don’t think iNaturalist should present itself in this specific case as a restoration tool for land managers when so many laypeople use it.

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I guess I would say that, in general, I don’t think iNat is geared towards the worst case scenario. For instance, in a lot of cases, the worst case scenario might be that poachers will come on the site and target valuable native organisms resulting in a serious negative conservation impact. There is certainly the potential for this. iNat does some things to mitigate that (obscuring, etc. that have been discussed elsewhere), but the average user case carries a lot of weight. For instance, iNat doesn’t obscure all or even most observations because it would have a negative impact on many of the sites users, both “power” users and beginners. And this is in a case where the potential negative impact (poaching) is well-established and supported by a reasonable amount of evidence.

I would also suggest that people, including beginner users, asking about the introduced icon (whatever its form) is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s an opportunity for education of folks may not be familiar with why this is important. For instance, a beginner user who uploaded observations of plants in their yard and discovered that they are introduced and not native (by noticing the brightly colored icon) might be more likely to plant native species in the future, a benefit.

Because of this, I think it’s appropriate for the introduced and related icons to be in some form that attracts attention and says “Look at me!”, though I also think it’s a good conversation to have about whether the current icon is the best way to get that message across.

I also don’t feel like iNat is explicitly presenting itself as a restoration tool for land managers here.

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what about the idea of changing the icon to a + ? Still attracts attention, you could keep it pink