Nonstandard Taxa

Does iNat have a way of dealing with ‘nonstandard’ but well-accepted taxa? I am thinking mostly of the genus-groups used for Phaneropterine katydids but I’m sure there are other examples. The genus-groups are extremely well-accepted and are found in scientific papers, books, and faunal checklists including Orthoptera Species File and the Atlas of Living Australia.

It would be extremely helpful if these could be added because often a genus is not quite possible from most photos (especially in Australia where I mostly ID), and the alternative is leaving it at subfamily rank. E.g. the genus-group Taeniomenae contains two genera where nymphs are very difficult to distinguish, and being able to ID it to the genus-group would be far better than just leaving it at Phaneropterinae, which has 2000+ species.

Does iNat have a solution to this? I could create the taxa and have them ranked as something else, but that doesn’t seem right as they are not tribes etc., and it may be more difficult to coordinate with external sites. Thoughts, everyone?

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Perhaps you are sort of asking for a new Rank (i.e. a Feature Request) called genus group, which presumably would be one level above genus. When curating, it could be grafted to any higher level (so it could look the same as on ALA).

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Here’s a recent example of a similar feature request:

https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/create-a-new-taxon-rank-for-inaturalist-the-species-group/14543

And also note in the curator guidelines some of the considerations that go into creating a new taxon after the rank itself does exist:

While our general tendency is toward fewer nodes for the sake of simplicity, the heuristic we use is utility : if you feel some users on the site (including yourself) will benefit from having a subtribe in the system, perhaps because that’s the lowest taxonomic level at which a particular insect can be identified based on a photograph, then go ahead and add it (provided you properly curate the node as described shortly). If you’re adding a subtribe just because someone somewhere decided they like taxonomic units with less than 20 species in them, don’t add it, because that doesn’t really help anyone on iNat.
[…]
As a rule of thumb, not including additional nodes in iNaturalist is preferable to including but only partially curating additional nodes

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Forgive the amateur question, but why aren’t they tribes? Is it solely because they haven’t been formally described?

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Thanks guys, yes I thought about a feature request but wanted to see if there were other options as I don’t think this issue comes up in an enormous number of taxa. I’m happy to put in a request if that’s the best option to have. @barbetsmith I’m really not sure why they’re not tribes to be honest. They were never described as anything other than genus groups and I’m not sure if they are roughly equivalent to tribes, subtribes, or some other rank.

A temporary solution might be to add a “holding bin” observation field that represents a grouping or informal taxon that is more precise than the best ID, but not a formal taxon itself. This is a pretty common workaround for some of the less-studied arthropods that don’t have formal species complexes curated.

edit: i’m also going to put the words “bucket” and “annotation” in here so the next time I can’t think of what holding bins are called, it doesn’t take ten minutes to search again

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