Notifications of Subspecies

I am one of those people who have never investigated subspecies and don’t have any interest in following them. I have my Account Settings set so that I am not supposed to receive confirming identifications, but I still get notified every time someone puts a subspecies identification on one of my old Research Grade observations. Even if I agreed to a subspecies ID (which I would prefer not to do) to stop further notifications of it, I would still get notifications of a competing subspecies ID. Just wondering whether there is interest among others for a tweak to the Account Settings that allows opting out of notifications of subspecies IDs that do not disagree with the species ID. (If we could unfollow our own observations, which I asked for in a Feature Request, then I could stop getting subspecies notifications just by unfollowing my observations after one subspecies ID, which would help somewhat.) Does this bug anyone else?

The way subspecies are used by some people bugs me in general, and i’d probably turn notifications for them off if given the option, but i don’t care that much since the behavior i dislike would continue to affect my observations.

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Yes, you’re doing it for work, so I get that. I have just about decided not to post observations of certain organisms any more (even up to Kingdom), since I’m just doing this for fun.

oh no, i’m agreeing with you. i don’t tend to use subspecies for work stuff either, because we tend to only have one in the area and there’s no point, it just complicates data management

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My 2c of input.

Subspecies plays a significant role. In a few hundred kilometers there may be a definite difference in a species, resulting in the need for the subspecies.

Protea aurea subsp. potbergensis is less than 300km road trip from my place where we get Protea aurea subsp. aurea . Closer as the proverbial crow flies.

Giraffa camelopardalis subsp. giraffa is indigenous to South Africa, while Giraffa camelopardalis subsp. angolensis will corrupt the gene pool. And in fact all subspecies of Giraffa Camelopardalis other than G.c giraffe are declared prohibited species in South Africa. Thus it is important that these are recognized and allows it to be brought under the attention of the relevant authorities.

I realize a lot of people do not care for the subspecies, but why get offended when an organism is narrowed down. I have the “same” opposite problem when something has been narrowed down, and then others jump up the ladder again. Then I get a message to say someone has id’d something of mine and when I go check it, it is to a courser level than what most have agreed to, with not reason.

I also do this for fun. A percentage fits into my work, but that is just an added bonus.

So it does work both ways, and to please everyone would be near impossible. I just feel glad that my obs are playing a valuable part for the greater good.


My perspective – not all subspecies fit in one bucket. Some are more significant than others, and it would be hard to create general rules to weed out the less significant ones. Some have major conservation status; some will be found eventually to represent distinct species. And others are cryptic to the point of being impossible to diagnose from evidence available on iNaturalist.

For me, if the evidence clearly supports a recognized subspecies, I want to know about it. That way it is already in the right “bucket” for future status changes or taxonomic changes that may come along.


I am not offended, and I’m not judging people to whom subspecies are important. I just want the ability to either unfollow my observations, selectively, the same way that I can unfollow other users’ observations with the exact same scenario. Or, alternatively, I would like to be able to opt out of getting notifications that do not disagree with my identification, including subspecies.


I agree that anyone should be able to choose to be notified. I am only interested in the notification system and the inability to unfollow my own observations. I will add, though, that yesterday I was going through a bunch of old observations in “Needs ID” and there are observations that would have been Research Grade at species level long ago, but they are stuck in “Needs ID” even though two people agree on the species, just because someone other than the user chose not to simply agree with the species ID but instead selected a subspecies of the same species. This must be confusing to new users. It doesn’t make sense to me.

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I do totally agree that “Research Grade” (for what that’s worth) should only be based on agreement at species level. Then if enough people agree on a subspecies, that can flip the observation ID from the species name to the subspecies name. If someone later comes along and disagrees, either with a different subspecies or with just the species, that can flip the observation ID back to the species name, but should have no affect on RG, since agreement at the species level hasn’t changed.


I don’t know why it doesn’t seem to work that way already. I wonder if it’s a bug or intentional? The way I read the topic on etiquette, no one can ever add a species level identification unless the person who added the subspecies ID decides to change to species level. (California has over 12,000 “Needs ID” observations at the subspecies rank. That is a lot of observations off-limits to people who might know the species but not the subspecies.)

My vague recollection is that it is intentional, but I can’t remember the reasoning and would have to do some digging on the old google forum to refresh my memory.

I think you may be reading the etiquette topic a little too strictly. If someone has a definite reason to disagree with a lower-level ID, but can’t offer an alternate ID at the same level, adding a disagreeing ID at the next higher level is appropriate (hopefully with some explanation). Doesn’t matter if we are talking Genus versus species, or species versus subspecies.

If you have no definite disagreement, and are just wanting to express personal inability to distinguish the subspecies (or ability to confirm the species), one can add an agreeing ID at the higher level (“I’m not sure it is subspeciesX, but it’s definitely speciesY”). Although with the way this currently messes up Research Grade status, maybe better to express this with a comment instead of an ID.


Right, thanks for correcting that. If I just want to review the observations where I could make an ID, I should first filter for all observations at the rank of subspecies and see if I can add a disagreement at the species level, and mark the rest of them reviewed. Which I can do–not a problem for me.

One issue is iirc if you add a non disagreeing ID to species level because you don’t know the ssp… or knocks the community id back to species which isn’t ideal.

This is not the best solution, but I’ve muted a couple users who I know add tons of subspecies IDs to taxa that actually have published evidence against using subspecies.

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