It can be seen that if there are such group, must be plenty of observations remain unsettled.
What should we do to help the community? Invite some relatively professional researchers to iNat or local iNat users study hard and be experts themselves? For me, I come with knowledge of asian groups and then broaden my horizon to all over the world on iNat while only sitting in my room in China. I can say I am the both. How about you?
Recently I’ve seen some genus need to do but I am not there nor I have specimens. I ask local expert Mr. Braun and he is glad to help but he also have many things to do. Besides, I don’t know how to find some more capable guys to hear my idea. it’s a little bit upset that although I know the problem but I can’t manage to solve it.
Is there any groups on iNat that with only a few or even no expert (or regionally no) to help?
It can be seen that if there are such group, must be plenty of observations remain unsettled.
Sometimes the groups that have no identification suggested are those difficult to ID even with good macro photos… and there are only a few who upload pictures of details of parts of collected specimens (that parts that are in need to show as they are used in dichotomic keys).
Since I joined iNat, I have changed my preferences a bit and moved on to determine certain groups that I felt capable and there seemed to be no or very few experts.
I thought that your question was proposed by someone with a strong desire to specialise within a certain group, in which case I would suggest for Europe to focus on some forgotten families of Diptera, such as Sciaridae, Keroplatidae, Chironomidae Cecidomyiidae, of which there seem to be not many experts.
Many groups don’t have professional experts to begin with, and professionals generally don’t have the time to contribute extensively on iNaturalist.
iNat users can become qualified identifiers in almost any group if they are able to invest the time and other resources. I think @zdanko and I, along with many other fly specialists, are eager to guide and work with those interested in becoming expert identifiers. Tag or message me for more information. I’ve recently been working with @mabuva2021, who has now become the top identifier of the fly genus Bibio on iNaturalist.
I would guess there are few to no experts for most invertebrate groups. For mollusks, at least, most of us IDers are amateurs/generalists. That doesn’t mean we don’t know enough to supply IDs, but we could definitely use more expertise sometimes. And then there’s the fact that we have nowhere near enough IDers to help with all the observations.
To me, if someone has enough expertise, no matter he is certificated or not he is definitely an expert.
I try to take pictures of as many kinds of organisms as I can; birds, mammals, trees, mosses, arachnids, and a few specific species of fungus and other inverts seem to have a number of experts in my area who will find them sooner or later.
The biggest group I’ve found to have a low chance of other folks identifying them at all, let alone users who are able to narrow down broad IDs to genus or species, seems to be lichens, even with fairly close-up macro photos (although photographing them well is definitely a problem). Lichen in urban environments seem to get even less attention than lichen in rural environments, too.
I don’t know a lot about lichens, but I think they qualify as a difficult group because you often need some biochemical tests for ID (like what color did it turn when you added reagent X).
Yep, that’s definitely part of the issue. I’ve heard there are some moss species that are similarly finicky and require microscopic views of tissue samples to ID with certainty (maybe less difficult than a chemical test, but beyond what most observations will include). Unfortunately I don’t know how many lichens require chemical tests to properly ID versus ones that can be identified visually, so I’m not sure how big a contributing factor that is.
Many times, unless there are detailed photos of specific diagnostic features (ex. insect body parts, genitalia), photos are not enough to name much further than family/ genus. Therefore, even experts would find it difficult to commit to naming the species. For example, many moths can not be named to species without dissection. There are many iNat observations of caterpillars that likely will not get to species even if an “expert” were to look at them. For some insects, there simply is not enough information about the family/genus. I have learned that, in some cases, leaving an observation at family, or if lucky, the genus is really all that can be done. I do agree and appreciate that any experts can definitely help when they have the time and energy. But, sometimes, I find some iNat users commit identifications that really need more thought and explanation. When in doubt, I find it best to get more than one opinion.
Fungi. Fungi, fungi, fungi. The whole Kingdom! Everywhere!
There are some great people doing fungi, and I’ve noticed a few more recently which is encouraging. But I think they’re vastly outnumbered by the number of observations and, you know, fungi are hard!
Quite a few groups of Micro-Lepidoptera are lacking in experts to ID them, mostly because there are groups where no (or perhaps only 1 or 2) experts exist… One aspect of identification that I think gets overlooked by casual observers is that in many of these taxa, there are more undescribed species than described ones, even in “well-sampled” areas like the USA and Canada. A moth like a Coleophora or Blastobasid in one’s yard is about as likely to turn out to be an unnamed species as it is a named one, and even in the case of the named species, the species descriptions are often a century old and not terribly helpful. I think iNat has a decent enough sized user base at this point that if there is an expert out there, someone on iNat probably knows them and can get their input on IDs. The groups (at least within invertebrates) that sit with 99% of the observations unidentified are the groups where 99% of undissected museum specimens are probably sitting at the genus/family level too. I can only hope that perhaps some of the folks who go down the rabbit hole of trying to work out tough IDs on iNat get inspired to go out and inspect specimens and perhaps publish revisions of these groups in the future.
I agree with this. Last I checked, I was the leading or close to leading identifier for Heliodinidae and Prodoxidae. No “true experts” have joined iNaturalist and I am willing to try. We need to recruit Dr. Jerry Powell!
This is certainly the case for too many groups. Last major revision for Ripiphoridae beetles was 1928.
This is a goal of mine for the aforementioned Ripiphoridae, if I can retire early from engineering.
P.S. Your work identifying moths is appreciated, Paul
From my own experience as observer, dipterans of all kinds (except Syrphidae) have a quite low chance to get IDed… no matter where in the world. However, I suspect this is also not the easiest group to ID by photos.
Here in South America I have the feeling plant IDers are completey overwhelmed by the masses of plant observations. So even my plant observations that I thought would be easy to identify at least to Genus by someone interested in plants are left there hanging for a loooong time… for example, in Colombia it is almost 700 ppages of observations identified as “plantae” so far… in Ecuador almost 1000 pages.#
With plants generally also being an easy target for observations, as they do not run away, I feel one could do a lot in the plant-IDing-section :-)
For some of the flies, they can only be identified by dissecting out the male genitalia, so no dissection or a female fly and you’re out of luck.
Jungle plants are overwhelming to look at. So lush and green!
Many botanists with outstanding credentials use iNat, but they are heavily concentrated in NA and Europe. I can get almost every plant in New Mexico identified by Patrick Alexander, Nathan Taylor, Bob Sivinski, and Kelly Allred. Mexico has pretty good coverage thanks to Oscar González and Bodo Nuñez Oberg and others I am currently forgetting.
Thats what I thought :-)
I personally haven´t even been to the jungles of colombia yet… only not so totally overwhelming andean plants. It is 200 pages of “plantae” observations only in the district around Bogotá (and Bogotá alone has almost 1000 pages of “needs ID” plants-… however, I know that there is also a huge bunch of cultivated plants that are not marked as such unfortunately… sometimes I mark some of those pages if I am really bored, but usually I prefer to spend my time with spiders…)
A LOT of them.
And if they are in Cladonia genus… just… headdesks…And it’s a big genus. It’s so notoriously hard my new lichen ID book goes on a two paragraph rant about them.
Some of us push the ‘good as it gets’ RG at species when we know; but sometimes that can annoy folk. I love lichen and take a lot of photos of them, and usually I’m checking it off at genus as there’s just no way. And I can’t be arsed to chemical test in field or do DNA or TLC, so they’ll be stuck at genus forever. I’m just okay with that. :) Usually though, you can get to genus with good photos.
To answer original question: certainly. I still have cave species ID’d to species sitting at non-RG since no one can confirm them for me. And these are ones knowable from photos + range so should be well-ID-able on this site.
I reviewed some of your Colombian ones. Unfortunately I don’t know Bromeliads very well.
Its not helped by some very charismatic fungi groups being impossible to ID past genus without microscopy or DNA analysis.
Looking at you, red Russula species
I identify worldwide marine shelled molluscs. Fortunately, most of them can be identified with external morphology even in bad conditions (Although requires a decent amount of experience because often the differences are extremely subtle). But, in some countries, I see that no mollusc identifiers exist, and I don’t have enough time to cover them all.
I feel that we aren’t even close to having enough identifiers for all the groups other than vertebrates and vascular plants.
I have been trying to post as many species as possible, and I find that soil invertebrates like mites, springtails and milipedes are rarely identified, even if its external character is enough for ID.
Crustose lichens are also absolutely difficult.