Should higher-level taxon names always be plural?


I just found this taxon, and noticed that the taxon name, “Mining Bee”, is not pluralized. As far as I can tell, almost all taxon names on iNat are pluralized. The only other times I have seen non-plural names are on monotypyc genera, which this one definitely isn’t (over 1,300 species). is this just a mistake made by whoever created the name, or is it supposed to be like that?

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I notice the family taxon has that vernacular and it is pluralised, so perhaps it’s redundant to have that vernacular at the genus level.


You’ve got to also consider what people will enter as the common name, something might be in a group of flies commonly called ‘ziggy flies’, but for their observation of a single fly people are no doubt going to enter ‘ziggy fly’ so it helps if singular versions of some common names for higher level taxa are in there too (iNat doesn’t do any automatic singular/plural conversion when trying to recognise what you type in)


I think it is helpful if the common names of genera are entered in a plural form. If they are in the singular form, I usually change them whenever I encounter them.

Why? Because many beginner naturalists are not familiar with the Linnaean taxonomic hierarchy, they need to know that a genus contains many species. A genus common name that is in the singular form tends to imply that this taxon has only one kind of organism in it.

I wouldn’t call it a “mistake” to put a genus name in the singular form, and maybe there are some exceptions, but in general I think it is clearer and more helpful here on iNaturalist if the common-name versions of our genus names within our database are routinely expressed in the plural form.


I also think that all higher-level taxa names should be plural. A few years ago I read an article somewhere (Herpetological Review?) with a pretty convincing argument that even species names should be plural.

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Yes, I have no dispute about the default (and also as displayed on observations) being pural as it should be. But if the list of alternate common names also includes singular versions, eg ‘Fungi including lichens’ also has a entry ‘Fungus’, please don’t delete the singular version! :-)

(Someone has also added ‘Funguses’ Not so sure we need to keep that one)

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@tony_wills: Seems like a good idea at least for groups where singular/plural spellings are notably different, like fungi/fungus. I’m not sure if there’s any value in, e.g., keeping “Whale” as an alternate common name for “Whales”.


Yes, if the singular name, when completely entered, will still bring up the plural there is no problem.

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