Prawns vs Shrimps / Dendrobranchiata vs Caridea

Hi everyone!

I understand that this is a very specific remark but here it is.

I mostly identify shrimps on this site and a big problem I encounter is that most people automatically identify their observations of shrimp-looking crustacean as “Dendrobranchiata”. Actually, Dendrobranchiata represent a small fraction of what are considered shrimps, most of them actually belonging to Caridea, which is quite distant biologically speaking.

I believe this is because “Dendrobranchiata” is the term that appears when people type “prawn” in the taxon search bar. There are no widely accepted english vernacular names to distinguish Dendrobranchiata from Caridea, usually, Caridea are referred to as shrimps and Dendrobranchiata as prawns, but for some, it is the opposite.

Anyways, I do not have a solution for this at the moment but maybe someone would have an idea to spare me the never-ending work of sorting out shrimps/prawns ID?

Sorry about this crustacean nerd’s rant!


If it works for you, we can simply remove the common name ‘prawns’ from that order, which would mean it does not come up in a search.

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I agree, there have been other cases with this sort of thingw ith common names and if the common name is a duplicate or overly specific we would just remove it or add something to it like “dendro prawns” or whatever. I don’t know what term would be appropriate because I know nothing about shrimp, but it would be awesome to get some shrimp observations…

@ mazancourt
I removed ‘prawns’ as a common name for that suborder. It still does have ‘shrimps and prawns’. Should that be removed as well ?

Please note that a search for ‘prawns’ will still turn up all the various species common names that have it, that can’t be stopped, nor will it fix any existing mis-identifications.

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I find it unacceptable that a few people can decide for the populace what is “right” and what is “wrong” in their use - sometimes for decades or centuries - of vernacular names. Such arrogance!

What makes it worse it that these changes and deletions are not recorded or archived, and the original posters are not notified of the edits. So anyone can go and destroy other peoples work without any trace or debate.

Tony, you are free to disagree with how common names are managed here but please dispense with the insults and rude comments directed towards other users. It’s not appropriate for this forum (or iNaturalist as a whole).


There is no insults or rude comments (unless you wish to interpret them that way: that is not what was intended) - and nothing was directed at any specific user or situation at all!!
This was a general position statement.

@tonyrebelo I don’t want to speak for Charlie, but I think the issue is the use of “Such Arrogance!” which assigns a motive to the action that may not be true and it doesn’t move the conversation along. I think that phrase is not necessary to get your point (which I agree with, do a degree) across.

To me, it’s better to move a discussion like this to the taxon itself - make a flag and have the conversation there once it’s been brought up. That way a history of any decision would be more easily findable on the taxon page(s) involved.

@mazancourt, in the future can you please provide links to some examples and to the taxa pages? It would make following this a bit easier, especially for folks not knowledgeable about certain taxa.


It would be easier to remain neutral if such deletions were properly documented so that the deletor could be accountable and and have to provide reasons for other curators - and those who originally proposed the names - to evaluate.
But for someone to anonymously destroy someone else’s contribution without any trace, reasons, discussion, comeback or notification is utterly abhorrent!
Perhaps I am a freak in having such views, or expressing it in my own way, in which case please accept my apologies, but I do feel rather strongly on the issue.

Hi everyone, thanks for all these reactions!

Here are a few recent examples that I corrected:

My proposition does not aim to decide what is right or wrong, with vernacular names ans particularly in this case, there is no right or wrong. As a taxonomist, I’m almost always using scientific names, but vernacular names should be encouraged when it makes it easier for non-specialists. Here, using vernacular names brings mostly confusion.

Every time I get the chance, I try to explain to people why they are wrong and how to differentiate Caridea from Dendrobranchiata (it’s rather simple). I think that it’s one of the aims of iNaturalist, to educate people.


I think @tonyrebelo has a good point. A better approach to just deleting is to flag and discuss the change first, and then there is an “audit trail” of the change and the reasons for it.

However, and I will bring up the recent issues with Physalia as an example, interested parties don’t usually see the flag and discussion until after the change is implemented. I recall thinking “what arrogance!” in regard to the creation of the extra Physalia species, but on investigation, I noticed the considerable discussions that had been taking place prior to that happening. This is in relation to creation of extra taxa, so a little more involved than vernacular name usage. I have had an occassion where a vernacular was changed (a new one added and order re-arranged), and it was disconcerting but not really a problem. I sometimes jump in and add a regional usage to “fix” it if I think it will confuse others!

This might be a separate curatorial-related feature request you could pursue if it doesn’t exist, @kiwifergus, @tonyrebelo.

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I saw that the vernacular name for Dendrobranchiata is now “Shrimps and Prawns”, which is still confusing. Maybe something like “Penaeid shrimps or prawns and allies” for Dendrobranchiata and “Caridean shrimps or prawns” for Caridea would be better? In that case, both taxa would appear when you make either the search “prawn” or “shrimp” and you would have to choose between these two.


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