The more I’ve gotten into botany on this website, the more I’ve noticed that there are many different taxonomic systems that are currently in use at any given time. While I have my personal favorites, I finally read up on how iNat has attempted to address this issue for a variety of taxonomical subgroups by pegging those to a specific 3rd Party Source. However, in going down this rabbit hole, I have found some outlier taxa that do not seem to follow the stated taxonomical 3rd party source according to iNat’s stated attempts at organization.
In particular, I’ve noticed two deviations between iNat and KEW Plants of the World Online, iNat’s stated taxonomical system for vascular plants other than ferns. I have so far flagged 2 taxa that seem to conflict, but considering how fast I noticed the issue, I’m sure I’ll encounter many more as I explore.
Does anyone have any advice on how to deal with this issue? Should I keep reporting taxa that seem to disagree with KEW POWO or other agreed upon 3rd party taxonomies, or is it more complicated than that? Perhaps, certain concessions have been made for certain taxa when KEW seems to be behind the curve of scientific discovery, for example.
Really looking for any advice for understanding this issue, which may be a simple one or may be more complex than I could ever imagine.
I recommend checking the taxon pages to see if there were any curation flags which might explain or justify deviations. In some cases deviations are made from authorities, so we don’t expect iNat taxonomy to be in 100% alignment with any given authority, for plants or animals.
Just my point of view: disagreements with POWO are woth being reported as long as the treatment made in POWO for a specific taxon is the best available. POWO is a good database and it works well as a taxonomic backbone but it is not free from errors.
I would suggest you, when you notice a discrepancy from POWO, to verify if:
it has already been addressed in iNaturalist
it is in line with other treatments that can be found in the current scientific literature
Anyway, in my opinion, before proposing a taxonomic change, when there are some conflicting treatments, it would be good to ask other more experienced users for a discussion on each specific case.
Thank you to all for your suggestions. I have answered my own question. I hadn’t realized that I could search through a taxon’s previous flags…if there are any. This essentially eliminates my dilemma, and allows me to make an informed decision about whether an additional flag is necessary because, as far as I can tell, the entire discussion about the previous flags is fully available to the public (even a non-curator like me).
Just want to add some comments to the discussion. Due to many synonyms the iNat database sometimes ends up with several species pages for a single taxon.
The Capparaceae of the Caribbean were a big mess not so long ago, with many taxa having two or even 3 species pages. It seems somebody cleaned up this mess lately. Thanks a lot at this place to the unknown curator who made the effort!!!
Now that you mention it, I think I remember being confused by the Quadrella/Capparis issue on iNat in the past, but didn’t really know enough to understand if my confusion was warranted. I wasn’t sure if it was a problem with iNat or a problem with my understanding of taxonomy.