Split Plantae into several iconic taxa

You could call it “mosses & allies” to be less confusing

1 Like

Yes, “mosses and allies” and “ferns and allies” and “conifers and allies” might work better for a general audience, given that those are by far the most commonly observed plants within those respective groups.

3 Likes

Sooo…
Flowering Plants
Conifers & Allies
Ferns & Allies
Mosses & Allies
Other Plants (basically algae and kingdom level IDs)

2 Likes

Would be interesting to know which groups are actually presented in “Plantae” observations, are flowering plants dominating because they’re more often photographed or it’s algae and mosses or ferns, because people are confused by them?

1 Like

As someone who goes through Plantae regularly, there are usually a good number of very identifiable flowering plants in the more recent uploads, but it gets down to harder or impossible-to-identify for older records with a lot of photos of trees or mosses without the necessary details for IDs, messy vegetation with several species and no clear focus for ID etc.

That’s an interesting idea and I’m wondering what other folks think about this as an alternative? Given that roughly 94% of all plant species are flowering plants, that would still be a huge group if split along taxonomic lines, and doing it this way could split that group up a little further. However, it would be unlike any other groupings on iNat and would take a lot of work to sort out all the plant species into such groupings.

1 Like

it’s because flowering plants are more often photographed. when i look out my windows, everything i see is a flowering plant. i know there are ferns (resurrection ferns, ornamental ferns), conifers (pines, cypresses, junipers), and cycads (sago palms) around somewhere, but they are relatively few and far between. i know there are mosses, but i’m unlikely to photograph them in part because they are so small and in part because i know they will be difficult to identify to species without microscopy. i know there are algae, but i’m unlikely to photograph them because of the same reasons as the mosses, and also because i have to find a natural body of water that contains them (unless it’s terrestrial algae).

this is fine, but i question a casual user’s ability to use these categories effectively. even though plants with inconspicuous flowers or plants which don’t often flower, like oaks, grasses, yuccas, asparagus ferns, etc. are all flowering plants, given the categories above, i bet a lot of casual users would choose one of the other above categories for them.

ferns and mosses categories might be useful for their respective enthusiasts, but that’s a very niche base. are there even dedicated conifer enthusiasts? really, most people interested in plants are interested in flowering plants or all plants, and so carving out flowering plants from plants to me doesn’t really offer most people any additional benefit.

(compare that to the animal side, insect folks are and bird folks and reptile folks are large and distinct bases.)

while i do believe that a lot of casual users, if asked “what kind of plant is this?”, are going to respond with something like tree, vine, grass, forb (plus fern, moss, algae), i think these form classifications are unreliable if you try to apply them in a mutually exclusive way, since some plants are both viny and tree-like, or grassy and forb-like.

so i am in no way endorsing that kind of classification. my point there was that your proposed classifications aren’t how most casual users would attempt to classify different plants. (compare that with what would happen if folks were asked “what kind of animal is this?”… i do believe most casual folks would respond with terms with correspond with iNaturalist’s iconic taxa, like bird, reptile, mammal, insect, etc.)

one last note: if you’re not already aware of this, it is possible in the website to search for multiple taxa together by setting parameters in the URL directly. for example, to find mosses, liverworts, and hornworts together, you could use: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?taxon_ids=64615,311249,56327

3 Likes

No, my question was wich group is dominating in “plant” records, @annkatrinrose answered it pretty well.)

2 Likes

I can’t find the thread again - but when asked to add ‘trees’ or ‘algae / seaweed’ - iNat replied that doesn’t fit into taxonomy. Not going to happen.

2 Likes

It’s because they are not taxonomic groups. You can have trees, bushes, vines, and forbs all in the same family (Fabaceae comes to mind). Also algae/seaweed is not a taxonomic group because they aren’t even all in the same kingdom. Kelp and some algae are already separated out because they are in the Kingdom Chromista.

1 Like

I guess what I’m most interested in seeing is a division of the giant green section of the pie (circle) charts. Everything else can be fixed by the way that you set up your search terms. What if the search box only had “all plants” as a choice but there were the groups like we discussed in things life lists and pie (circle) charts for people to see after the fact?

1 Like

Or how about we split insects too? :wink:


Insect comparisons aside, I support ways to delineate plants better in the system!

1 Like

the new dynamic life list (taxonomic view) does provide all the data you would need to make a pie chart (or other chart) using whatever taxonomic groupings you like. here’s a sunburst chart made from that data: https://observablehq.com/@robin-song/inaturalist-observations-by-taxon?us&chart_type=sunburst&user_id=lappelbaum, and here’s an alternate 2-level zoomable version: https://observablehq.com/@robin-song/inaturalist-observations-by-taxon?us&chart_type=sunburst_zoom&user_id=lappelbaum. (the year-in-review pages have a prettier zoomable sunburst chart, but it has data inaccuracies related to observations identified to non-leaf non-species taxa.)

I can’t read the sunburst one and clicking through the zoom one makes me queasy (I have bad motion sickness). What I was really interested in was being able to see plants divided up in the stats on collection projects.

3 Likes

my point was not that those sunburst charts produced exactly what you were looking for, but that you could use the life list data to make whatever kinds of charts you like, categorized however you like.

for a project, you could get the data you want using several variants of an Explore query. (to speed the process, if you want species/leaf count, start with the project stats pie chart. if you want observation count, you could start with something like https://jumear.github.io/stirfry/iNat_obs_counts_by_iconic_taxa.html. then you could do a few additional Explore queries to get data for your more detailed plant categories.) once you have all your data, you can make whatever kinds of charts you want to make.

i don’t think it’s necessary for the system to present every possible view of any possible set of statistics that folks might be interested in. sometimes, you just have to know how to get that data yourself.

1 Like

I have no clue where to even start to understand any of that stuff

you already did more or less what i was describing earlier in terms of data collection:

you could do the same for whatever project you’re interested in, and then use that data to make whatever kind of chart you like.

I did it the hard way. I went to explore and put in each group to get the numbers and calculated the percent in excel.

plants 30,328,116 41.6%
vascular 29,220,358
flowering 27,549,916 37.8%
ferns 816,769 1.1%
conifers 681,890 0.9%
other plant 1,279,541 1.8%
other vasc 171,783 0.2%
lycophytes 78,869
ferns 816,653 1.1%
non gym-angio 895,522 1.2%
hornworts 823
mosses 434,523
liverworts 58,619
eubryophyta 493,965 0.7%
vascular plants 29,213,819
angiosperms 27,549,916 37.8%
gymnosperms 768,381 1.1%
non vascular 606,287 0.8%
plant algaes 112,322 0.2%
chromista 95,114 0.1%
both 207,436 0.3%
animals 37,904,831 52.0%
chimaeras 428
jawless fish 1,104
ray-finned 698,292 1.0%
elasmo 42,822
lobe 26
all fish 742,672 1.0%
vertebrates 15,488,252
insect,arach,moll 21,173,569
other inverts 1,243,010 1.7%
all obs 72,857,179
3 Likes

That seems like a lot of work! Those numbers exclude all the plants marked cultivated (and animals marked captive). I just checked a few numbers for those and it seems that overall an additional 8% of the total observations has photos but is marked casual for some reasons. For plants and for angiosperms only, this number jumps to 12%, and for gymnosperms it jumps to 22%. Only 76% of all plants currently identified as one of the gymnosperm groups fall into the “verifiable” category presumably because a lot of them are trees and marked cultivated so they fall through the cracks.

There are also loads of plants in the unknowns and the “captive” unknowns are nearly all plants. I know there’s no way to count up how many exactly, but that’s another over-looked source of plant obs.

3 Likes

Why bother IDing captive plants when we are already having trouble keeping up with wild ones. They will never be research grade so it seems like a waste of time.

Captive gymnosperms
Cycads 12,435
Gingko 12,015
Gnetophytes 258
Conifers 158,208

1 Like