'Needs ID' pile, and identifications

I can relate; this is how I feel about all records of Penstemon virgatus more than 1 year old. Even though it can be discouraging at times, the more we do, the better the CV suggestions and people’s awareness get.

Fun news: as of today, I’m 1/4 done with the genus of Penstemon. :nerd_face: I deserve a raise! Next milestone is finishing Colorado.

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Salary doubled. That was easy!

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I didn’t ‘properly’ learn about field guides until I started college, and when you’re living in a mega diverse country there aren’t really comprehensive guides for most groups (e.g. A book listing all the Formicidae species from the country was outdated the next day it was published).

Field guides are great resources but somewhat not really accessible to the layman who wants to learn (when you think in terms of money and language).

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I agree, i don’t think we should be telling people they need to buy field guides, for various reasons. However, some sort of index of links to online resources would be really nice… though i am not sure iNat is the best place to curate it. There are already some linked in taxa pages though.

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If someone wants to participate in easy way of getting rid of Needs Id - Forficula auricularia
Easy to distinguish species with tons of observations in need of id (I don’t know if we have any Dermaptera experts on iNat, observations of this group in general get no attention)
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/identify?taxon_id=61524

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So I decided to check this out. There are 19,597 pages of Needs ID exactly at Kingdom Plantae, where as if I assemble a very complex URL to find out how many of those do in fact have lower IDs, it returns 707 pages. So those would be things with phyla conflicts, things where the observer put Plantae and then opted out, situations where someone did a hard disagreement all the way back to kingdom, and the subspecies “bug.” Theorotically (assuming the URL works) the other 18,890 pages are things purely ID’d as Plantate.

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That’s so weird there’re so many “pure” Plantae ids!

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I guess “Plantae” seems pretty safe and intuitive for people who don’t know taxonomy, observers and unknown-sorters both. “Flowering plants” or even “vascular plants” might seem too technical. Plus if you’re an English speaker Plantae sounds like the word plant and that’s easy.

Not to mention the thousands of IDs made using this app which only does kingdom level IDs.

…or it’s entirely possible my URLs don’t do exactly what I think they do ;)

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Yes, I guess many of those from iders who check unknowns too, maybe there should be more materials posted on forum about iding plants? There’re so many tutorials on animals, but none about big plant groups, in 99% of cases you don’t need to know the plant species to id it lower group, especially when plants include mosses and part of algae, so this high rank shouldn’t be used that frequently.

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On the one hand, you’re absolutely right, it shouldn’t be too hard to learn a few lower ranks. On the other hand, when I ID plants I most often use the iconic taxa button and a geographic filter, so it really doesn’t matter to me if something is Plantae or family level, I’m going to see it all. So it kind of depends on whose attention you’re trying to get and whether “dicots” will really gain you any faster attention than “plants.”

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I know many iders don’t know mosses, so they filter up to Tracheophyta.

I can testify to this. As a novice IDer I started going through Unknowns and I admit I marked quite a few as Plantae. I used “Flowering Plants” only for plants that were, well, flowering (since that seemed pretty safe) and never “Vascular” because who knows what that means. I still don’t know exactly what vascular means, but it seems to be most “normal” plants, so maybe something to do with having a stem. Eventually I learned to use Vascular and Flowering properly, and now I’m working on Dicot vs Monocot. But it would have been a lot easier to figure out if there were some sort of ID handbook (just info on the lowest levels you can easily ID things to would be great!) I’ve found some of this information on the forum, but it would be nice to have it consolidated as an iNat page. I think it could cut down on the not-very-useful kingdom-level IDs.

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Vascular plants are pretty much all of them except for mosses, liverworts and hornworts. It includes all flowering plants, gymnosperms (e.g. conifers), and the ferns and fern allies. If it has an upright stem, particularly a woody one, and leaves with veins, it’s a vascular plant.

The non-vascular ones are commonly called bryophytes, but on iNat the taxon Bryophyta is mosses only. Based on having gone through the “Bryophyta” in my area, it appears this isn’t clear to everyone and there are a lot of liverworts marked as such as well. If anyone who can distinguish between a true moss and a liverwort or clubmoss is interested in helping with sorting these out, I suggest having a look at Bryophyta in your area and correcting things that are obviously not mosses. I found a good number of them.

I agree it would be really nice to have some quick references/guidelines for sorting out plants at least to phylum level or classes.

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I’m embarrassed to say this but I actually didn’t realize liverworts aren’t bryophytes and I’m a plant ecologist :laughing:

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Well, they are “bryophytes” but not “Bryophyta” as iNat uses it (for mosses only) - that’s where the wrong IDs come in. I’m sure it confuses a lot of people!

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I do a lot of coarse id’s for the plant side from Unknown, and it comes down to workflow convenience at high volume. Plantae comes from either that kingdom-based app, or from the Identify pane if “P” is a good place for me to repetitively tap. Angiospermae is a better high volume choice because A fits well into my keystrokes and covers most things (since we’re seeing mostly monocots and dicots, and no big need to make a choice right then). D is likewise handy/easy tap for long runs of dicots, M slightly less handy so I often default back to Angiospermae for a while if I get tired of doing M in the mix.

The curveball in the high volume plant id workflow is when I try to rely on my touchscreen after the keystroke. After a certain amount of ids, the website starts to glitch and fill in random not-selected id’s from the pulldown like Duck or Diptera or Anisoptera instead of Dicot, until it somehow reverts to normal after a while. (Thread about that is elsewhere here iirc).

For “normal people” doing plant id though, just go with your personal comfort level, as always. ;)

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In my dry climate there’s very little moss anyway; almost no one observes it. I spend much more time ignoring obs of seaweed but even those are not all that many.

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I wonder if theres any way to get statistics on how fast things get cleared from various levels, or how many IDers work there? It seems like most stuff that gets a starter ID of tracheophyta is something like a small patch of bark or sliver of wood where someone looked at it and couldn’t decide whether or not it was an angiosperm. On the other hand especially in dry areas almost everything can be progressed beyond plantae starter IDs relatively easily, so it might feel more productive to ID from there if you are going to filter by a specific higher ID level.

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I don’t know if it’s possible for the average person to access info like that. I know the site stats page displays graphs about time to ID or to CID, but it’s not filtered by taxon.

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I’ve been going through a month’s worth of Unknowns for New England in the US (yes, I’m a masochist) and I’ve been marking as Life observations with several photos, each clearly of different organisms. If no one has commented before that these photos should be split into different observations, I make that comment.

But in cases where an identifier asked the observer a couple of months ago to split up the photos and the observer hasn’t responded, I’m thinking of marking the observation as Life - and marking it as cannot be improved. What do you all think of that? It would, I think, move that observation out of the Needs ID pile.

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