Species from wrong family shows up in Explore search

I’m taking a course on mosses soon and in preparation for that, I have been poking around moss taxonomy on iNaturalist. However, several times I’ve run into cases where the same species shows up when I search for family A and for family B. Surely that’s not correct?

Here’s an example: When I search for Bryaceae in New England in the US, Pohlia nutans shows up as one of the species (URL: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=52339&taxon_id=67866&view=species). Pohlia nutans also shows up when I search for Mniaceae (URL: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=52339&taxon_id=49393&view=species).

At the moment, I don’t care which family is the correct one. I’m assuming this is either a bug or a curatorial issue, but I don’t know which. Moderators should feel free to whisk this off to the right part of the forum, if needed. Thanks!


Flag for curation at the species. Something slipped between the cracks somewhere.

1 Like

The curation seems fine - Pohlia nutans is only in Mniaceae. Not sure why observations of it would show up in a search for Bryaceae observations. I note your Bryaceae URL shows 2 Pohlia nutans observations in New England, but when I click on the link, 68 Pohlia nutans observations show up in New England. I’m thinking there may also be Bryaceae IDs on those two observations (maybe with observers opted-out of community ID?), so those two observations show up in Bryaceae searches, even though the current observation IDs are Pohlia nutans. Just speculation, though, without more investigation.

1 Like

I noticed that Pohlia nutans is only in Mniaceae when I looked at the taxon page. So that’s good!

But I just went through the 68 nutans observations from New England and not a single one wandered anywhere close to Bryaceae. They were all IDed as Pohlia nutans by the observer and either no one else confirmed that ID or someone else agreed.

Plus, there are 14 such moss species in New England with some weird sort of connection to two families; that strikes me as unusual, even given the difficulty of identifying mosses. I’ll try flagging for curation at the species level and see what the curators can find out.


Based on what you are describing, I don’t think this is anything that a curator could solve. It sounds like a bug to me. With your permission, I could change this to a bug report, and modify the title accordingly.

1 Like

Pohlia and some other genera in Mniaceae (among other families) used to be in Bryaceae (on iNaturalist and elsewhere). When the ancestry of a taxon with a large number of observations is changed, it can take a while for all observations to be reindexed.
(A similar case is Vespoidea, searches for which still bring up thousands of observations of ants and other taxa moved to other superfamilies in 2021)


Poking around a little more, I see that there has been one taxon change involving Pohlia nutans, a 2014 taxon swap from the now-inactive https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/407003-Webera-nutans

That inactive taxon was (and still is) attached to Bryaceae. If an observer opted out of automatic taxon changes, an old Webera nutans ID could still be active and causing a Bryaceae result.

But you said all of the observations showed Pohlia nutans IDs only - no old inactive IDs of Webera nutans in the activity history?

EDIT: or based on @maxkirsch’s note, maybe there is a residual indexing issue with two of the observations from before the 2014 taxon change?


Feel free to call this a bug. Thank you!

1 Like

No old Webera that I saw.

1 Like

I re-titled this and changed it to a bug report.

I think @maxkirsch is probably on the right track with this being an indexing issue. I thought about trying to re-graft the old inactive species to Mniaceae to see if that cleared things up, but probably best to wait until staff can take a look first.

Can you list which ones these are, to help with investigation?

Did you do this, and if so can you provide links to the flags to cross-reference any further discussion there. (I you haven’t, then I would hold off and just leave the discussion here.)

I suspect it’s an indexing issue as well.

1 Like

I did not flag for curation, so we’re safe there.

Other species that had the same issue were:

Anomodon minor
Calliergonella cuspidata
Dicranella heteromalia
Dicranella varia
Dicranoweisia cirrata
Diphyscium foliosum
Fontinalis antipyretica
Herzogiella striatum
Leptobryum pyriforme
Leucobryum albidum
Leucobryum glaucum
Leucobryum javense
Ptilium crista-castrensis

1 Like

Yes this sounds like a common indexing
bug that is fixed by inactivating and reactivating the problem taxa. Obviously not possible for large groups like Vespoidea, but not too hard if it’s just a few species. I’d do it myself if I was on my laptop.

1 Like

Is activating and reactivating taxa something only curators can do? I’m not a curator.

Yeah only curators can do that. So flagging is usually the best option. Feel free to tag me if no one else fixes it.


This topic was automatically closed 60 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.