Oversight for changing Conservation Status

Two years ago I went through all of Pennsylvania’s “sensitive species”, the species which the state treats (more or less) like “obscured” species. I made sure that all 149 of the sensitive species were marked “obscured”. Now I see that a number of those statuses have apparently been deleted, and a number of poachable species have had their coordinates up for public display for who knows how long. I doubt it was done intentionally, perhaps someone was trying to clean them up or update them? Or maybe someone thought they knew better than the state agencies?

Can a status be locked so that not just any curator can change it?
Or can I get a notification when a status is altered or deleted?
Is there any way to figure out who deleted a status? (I can see when a status has been edited, but not when it is removed)


If any of these changes were made from February 2022 onwards, they’ll show up in the history for that taxon

Thank you! That is useful.
I am adding a more detailed statement to the description field of each obscured status to explain it; hopefully that will deter too many changes.


Nothing helpful to say, but Thank You for checking this, Pete!!!

Sometimes there’s discussion in a flag on the taxon page prior to changes on conservation status, whether to obscure state-listed species, and other edits. You might check there also.

Endangered, threatened, and special concern species (“sensitive”?) are not necessarily treated by the state as “obscured”. Those are two totally different things. For many state-listed species, poaching is not an issue.


Yes, I would suggest raising flags on these before changing. Many state agencies are active on iNat and have been going through and opening up obscuration for state listed species after evaluating whether that would imperil species or not as there are benefits to having the data open (and the state agencies often want it!). I don’t know if this is the case for PA specifically though.


Keep in mind that obscured coordinates are obscured for everyone. That includes botanists at state and federal agencies who are hired to protect these plants. While poaching is a real concern in some cases, most of the time more knowledge, and more open sharing of knowledge, are beneficial to conservation.

Even when poaching is an issue, we need to weigh the possible benefits of obscuring coordinates from poachers against the inherent harm of obscuring coordinates from everyone else.


(Having been one of those federal agency botanists, I can verify that: we don’t know everything; we don’t have privileged access to obscured coordinates.)


species should not be obscured based on their rarity, rather they should be obscured based on whether or not detailed public spatial data is likely to cause significant harm to the species. Some rare species are at no risk whatsoever and some relatively common species are targeted heavily by poachers and at risk of not being common any more, so should be obscured. Some species have special status not becasue of rarity but because they are particularly at risk due to climate change, introduced pathogens, etc. These should not be obscured (unless there is also poaching risk) because spatial data is especially important to tracking these risks.


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