Paraphyletic projects

A disadvantage of iNat’s otherwise-helpful focus on cladistics is that some organisms can be very hard to resolve despite clear membership in one of a couple groups. I have the impression that it’s hard for experts to zero in on disambiguating these organisms using phylogenetic fitlers. It occured to me that a good solution was to Traditional Projects to group these, with the disadvantage that these Projects require observations be manually added. Examples:

Are there other similar projects that might be of use, especially given current progress reducing the backlog of “unknowns”?


A polyphyletic project for algae?


Just wondering if you can change the name of the Plant Pathogens of the Eastern US to Plant Pathogens of Eastern North America to include the eastern part of Canada as well.


Take a look at this Feature Request a while back. It addresses your subject and there is some discussion about the pros and cons of such an approach.

That topic led to this follow-up Feature request which in turn expanded the discussion.

The discussion led to @upupa-epops creating this Mangroves of the World paraphyletic project.

It’s certainly being done, but it’s a bit tricky to do so within the structure of iNat.


Lichens and trees come to mind.

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About your “Plant Pathogens of the Eastern US” project, were you aware that we already have a project, “Non-Metazoan Plant Diseases of North America”:

And another one, possibly less relevant, called, “Animal-caused plant diseases of North America”:

Would you hope that I will add all of my Eastern-States observations from “Non-Metazoan Plant Diseases of North America” to your project? Many of them are identified.


Algae, yes, definitely! I like to go through unknowns, and many times I see something that’s clearly algae, but I can’t ID what group of algae (which includes multiple kingdoms so the “highest taxonomic group” is life which is unhelpful). The logical solution would be to add it to an algae project so the algae experts can find it – but algae projects are often gated by taxonomy, so I can’t add it. Frustrating.

Also, theoretically, wouldn’t the system automatically remove algae from algae projects if there’s a disagreeing ID from a different kingdom? that puts the community ID back to “life” which isn’t in one of the allowed taxa. I’m not sure if it works like that or not, though, I don’t pay much attention to how projects work beyond sticking stuff in them to have a better chance of getting ID’d


@susanhewitt - I don’t own the Plant Pathogens of the Eastern United States project, but I imagine the admins would be game!

@jessm-c, @clockwood - I found an Algae project that already exists! I’ve linked to it above.


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