iNaturalist is far from a complete list of species. There are currently two ways for regular users to get new species added to iNaturalist. One is to flag the parent taxon for curation, such as flagging a genus when it is missing a species, or flagging a family if it is missing a genus. Curators then manually add the taxon to the database.
The other is a semi-automated import option where an iNat user enters the name of the taxon in a search field and selects “Search external name providers”. Behind the scenes, the iNat system searches Encyclopedia of Life and Catalogue of Life to see if the name is there and tries to add it to the database directly, without need for a curator.
Those name imports can cause various issues and have some bugs that have been mentioned several times on the forum. A few previous relevant topics are listed at the bottom.
Here’s a place to collect ideas for improvements to the name importer and process:
- Prevent extinct taxa (EOL/COL have an “extinct” field, could also cross-check with something like PaleoDB)
- Prevent all names marked unresolved in EOL
- Prevent imports in locked/frameworked/complete clades (see feature request), e.g. mammals, birds, certain plant families, etc.
- Prevent duplicates (see bug report 1 and 2), i.e. matches to current iNat active or inactive names, ideally including slightly fuzzy matching like alborufus vs alborufa, rozeti vs rozetii (hemi-homonyms can be requested via flags)
- Prevent names ending in ssp, subs, va, fide (see bug report)
- Prevent known synonyms, either listed under taxon names or in Taxon Framework Relationships (see feature request)
- When import is prevented for any of the above reasons, pop up a notification with instructions for the alternative (to flag the relevant higher taxon for curation) and include (if discernable) a link to the appropriate taxon page to flag.
- Don’t add the taxon immediately at lookup time, ask the user if they really want to import (see feature request) e.g. if it’s being added as a synonym
- No imports above family
- Don’t graft species directly to a genus that has subgenera
- Stop using COL 2012 (and fix the related Algaebase issues)
- Fix whatever is bringing in trinomial subspecies at rank species
- Add Plants of the World Online (see feature request) or other taxonomic authorities listed in the Curator Guidelines as name provider with priority over EOL/COL for certain taxa?
- Search box at bottom of https://www.inaturalist.org/search?source=taxa can search for the wrong taxon (see bug report)
Other relevant discussions: