Is there a way to denote an undescribed species on iNat?

Is there a way to note that there is an undescribed (new) species on iNat? In my exact case, I am aware of at least two new species of wasps from Africa, which are documented on iNat. If nothing else, it might be interesting to know how many undescribed taxa can be found here. It could even be a separate category, where experts could browse and confirm or reject the novelty. I am aware that it requires an expert to classify a taxon as new, but perhaps this is a functionality that might be of interest in the next development round.

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It is site policy to not include undescribed or unnamed taxa into its taxonomy database.

If you have observations of such species, or think you do, they should be entered at the genus, or whatever the closest available level is. There are observation fields, typically called holding bin or something like that where the presumed identity can be placed.

If you are talking about just having it in the inat taxonomy, the site is not, and makes no claims to be a taxonomic reference, hence under the policy (I’m not passing judgement on the policy, simply stating what it us), they should not be entered for the sake of completeness.


I would strongly encourage using a Tag: undescribed, undescribed species
That is the easiest way for folks to search for and find such taxa.
Also good to describe in the comments the evidence for it being undescribed.

Also a good idea to cross-link observations of the taxon with either tags, fields, or direct copy-pasting of links (the latter more time consuming)


Sure, but it really feels like a waste. This resource is great, and adding a field of new/likely new taxa is only adding functionality, not reducing the overall quality/content.

All sounds great, tnx

FWIW we definitely do have undescribed taxa in our database, but that’s a bit controversial. I’ve never seen a case where I would want one, but if there was such a situation I’d want a lot of literature to back it up.

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That’s down to curators who are either unaware of the policy, or simply feeling that it is more important to add them than to follow site guidelines.

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Right. Site guidelines are stretched all the time (knowingly and otherwise). I, for one, rebelliously include multiple individuals in a single observation all the time. :)

Also, another relevant discussion:

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Nobody can edit your observation to change it. If you add an undescribed species, you run the risk of a shall we say highly rules oriented curator simply removing it. Last week, with no community or site consultation, a curator ran taxa changes to remove every undescribed taxa they found in the database and merge them into their genus.

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Hm, looks like 29 insect taxa…not quite as spectacular as that makes it sound, but I would have done it a little more gingerly than that (try to at least preserve the info in an observation field or something). That said, I’ve found a few cases in ferns where World Ferns’ reassignment of taxa as combinations ined. leaked over into Encyclopedia of Life and thence to us. Discouraging the propagation of unpublished taxa is, I think, a principle worth defending.

So if you observe and photograph a flock of 100 blackbirds, then strictly speaking you should upload it as 100 observations, and circle a different bird in the flock for each one :laughing:

An observation records an encounter with an individual organism at a particular time and location.

Technically yes. Most people don’t do that though.

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