New paper about using iNat to study Mollusca in Brazil

I think it is more related to the fact you might get some pretty nasty parasites if you handle them with your bare hands. The African Giant Snail which is an invasive species in Brazil is the host of some meningitis inducing parasite for example.

They could also be referencing the different poses you need to apply to get species level ID for gastropod. Someone posted a guide on how to do those recently.

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I have about 37K plants for the Rest of Africa to ID. Two ways I could help - when I go thru Unknowns - is to pick up tiny typos, or the species is not yet on iNat - from the Placeholder text. I would like to search my comments to see how many times I have had to limp thru copypasta because iNat uses prime real estate, top left corner, for :rofl: temporary placeholder text. Makes trying to help ID Southern Unknowns a painful process. Once an identifier has kindly added the first ID, iNat vanishes the observer’s careful placeholder, and makes identifying much more difficult for the next identifier who tackles that obs.

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Yes. The existence of Placeholder text (created when a user enters an ID that doesn’t match an entry in iNat’s taxonomy) and the fact that it is automatically destroyed when the first real identification is added is problem that could seeming be easily fixed. Why not just recode the process to add a note to the observation or an auto-generated comment?

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I don’t dispute that the acceptance timeline on some articles may be misleading. But there’s less scope for that here given that the article was published just 3 months after the iNat searches that generated the dataset.

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I have requested that - and was told iNat intends it to be temporary.
And it is staying as an iNat joke for the initiated :rofl: (PS I, am not amused)

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I realize that this is going quite a long way off the original topic, but… It would be fine for placeholder text to be temporary if we could be sure that the first ID would encapsulate all the info in the placeholder. But the reality is more like this.

  1. Observer enters detailed species ID that doesn’t quite match iNat’s taxonomy e.g “Plantus horridus var. notsobadicus”
  2. Observation listed as Unknown with “Placeholder: Plantus horridus var. notsobadicus”
  3. Well-meaning identifier (e.g. me) adds an ID as “Magnoliopsida” and away goes any trace of the observer’s intended ID.
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Nice! I have added it to the published paper wiki.

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For some countries, the challenge is finding an expert who uses iNaturalist. For Verbascum in Turkey I have not found that person, so even beautiful detailed photos have no ID or comments.

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Reach across the border to neighbouring countries which share similar flora?
Or an international botanist who focuses on verbascum?

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Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria and several other countries have many endemic Verbascum species, several hundred in the case of Turkey. The experts really need to be local. And even in simpler countries like Italy, with less than 20 endemic species, finding an expert who is interested is tough.

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I keep hoping an international Verbascum expert will volunteer in response to forum posts, I am keeping my fingers crossed.

Hold that hope. Because I ID Unknowns, I am constantly finding new dedicated experts across our biodiversity.
(But my Verbascum are invasive aliens)

Have you tried connecting (outside of iNat) with researchers who have published papers about Verbascum from those countries and asking them for help with particular IDs? If you can get one or two experienced researchers using iNat, they might then be willing to contribute more ID knowledge in time.

Sometimes, academics may be reluctant to offer help because they fear you’ll require lots of time from them. It may be easier to recruit them if they understand that you’re willing to assist with simpler IDs. If you’re able to handle the less-complex IDs for a particular region/country and ask for expert help mostly for “problem cases”, that may well entice them in. If you find an iNat observation that seems to match a taxon recently described or renamed by the researcher, that’s a pretty good hook to encourage them to assist!

You may well have a good idea of who is doing research on the genus in each country. If not you’ll likely find these names pretty quickly through Google Scholar, Research Gate, JSTOR or a similar research search engine. Or you can just check the reference lists in recent articles. Unfortunately, it seems that Faik Ahmet Karavelioğulları, one of the main researchers in Turkey, died suddenly in 2018.

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That’s why it’s good to copy the placeholder text to the comment space when making that first non-placeholder ID. Of course, I didn’t know about that for the first several hundred ID’s I made.

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From articles on Verbascum or other sources, find an e-mail to contact an expert. Send a link to one well-photographed example, asking for an identification. Thank the expert! Repeat, with some explanation of iNaturalist and a request that the expert join to do ID’s. It can work, and at least it gets some of the observations ID’d. (I’m still working to persuade a sedge expert to join. In the mean time, I keep asking advice on particular observations.)

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You absolutely should not handle specimens, unless you really know what you are doing. As someone mentioned above, most land snail and slug species are hosts to some very dangerous parasites. Sadly, this is true not only for Lissachatina fulica* (African Giant Snail) but also for native species…

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Thank you =)! In addition to being gastropod experts, we are all iNat users and two of us have been Curators for some time. We discussed many of these issues among ourselves. In fact, both these issues raised over time and the important records we encountered along the way were our motivations for writing the article. Of course, many records were found over the course of months, but when we decided to compile and review all the data (and IDs), we worked fast. We were really excited =)

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I am identifying them across most of the world except Greece, Turkey, and the Middle East. They are not non-native aliens everywhere.

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That is an interesting idea. I do know the right person for a few countries, such as Ukraine, Austria, and Tunisia, maybe I will need to make a list by every country with Verbascum. It is a good thing that I am retired and people in my family live a long time, this may take a while.

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