Updates to conservation statuses in progress in Canada

Is it possible that you have permission for the other observations to see true coordinates so you didn’t notice the obscuration?

I don’t think so? It looks like I identified five in the past two weeks. There was one case where the initial ID was wrong, so that wouldn’t have been obscured until I identified it (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/30540202), and two cases where the observation was added to the NHIC rare species of Ontario project, which might give me access? Also, I follow those two observers. But they don’t follow me, so I doubt I have access that way. More to the point, if I had access before, why don’t I now? These are the two that I remember the most clearly as having non-private locations in Pinery Provincial Park. The obscured locations are off-shore now, so it’s a really obvious difference.


The last two are from random people, and haven’t been added to any projects:


30570372 was especially memorable because it was the first observation in Ontario from around Niagara Falls / Hamilton. (First known record in that part of Ontario, not just on iNat.)

Edit: I still feel like there’s a 10% chance I’m imagining things. Don’t waste too much time trying to figure this out unless someone else has reported something similar.


A few things:

  1. I am (with permission) doing some organisation and clean-up of the spreadsheet as it was hard to follow. Not finished yet but that’s why it looks a bit different.

  2. Above we discussed species with statuses set for the single-point place of Labrador, which are doing nothing. The conclusion there was that these statuses were hold-overs that no longer should exist. However, since then a CDC response was received for one of these species (Double-crested Cormorant) justifying the obscuration. So I see a couple of possibilities. (1) Some species were meant to be obscured in Labrador, and some are just hold-overs from before. This would indicate that these statuses need to be transferred to a proper Labrador place that will actually have an effect, and that we need to figure out which species are actually meant to be obscured. (2) Alternatively the Atlantic CDC response was a post-hoc justification for a status that wasn’t meant to exist in the first place. I would hope that this is not the case. So where was this cormorant status for Labrador coming from? Unfortunately the status itself seems to be gone (I might have removed it after our discussion above, don’t remember). Can we either find out if that was meant to be obscured in the initial wave of obscuring done in March, or if there is a record kept of how the status changed? Actually, it might be helpful if the full spreadsheet with the statuses that were applied in March could be shared somewhere, if easily possible.

  3. I’ve come across another species that “should” be obscured, but is set to open, with no record of anyone having changed it. https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/120032-Oecanthus-pini. Species seems to be actually ranked as SU in Ontario from what I can tell but shows as S1 there.
    Is this a hold-over from before March, or an error like those discussed above. Is there any way for us to tell without asking admins?

Hi Reuven,

In response to your number 2 point above. The Atlantic Canada CDC does consider Labrador as separate from Newfoundland and each have their own unique records and ranks. When we updated the lists we were asked by iNaturalist to combine them. Therefore, if it was meant to be obscured in Labrador only it actually got applied to the entire province and vice versa. Also the spreadsheet was posted by @carrieseltzer back in March but I’m not sure the link to get to it.

In response to number 3, Oecanthus pini is indeed ranked as SU in Ontario, and as such was not on the list of their obscured species. So it would have been opened up with this new roll-out.

1 Like

Also has anyone been able to update the statuses for @bouteloua’s requests? I want to make sure those changes have actually been committed. She received some updated responses from Atlantic Canada as well, which I don’t think are reflected on the spreadsheet. I will look into updating the spreadsheet, but I can’t do anything about the actual changes.

Thanks Allison,

Also the spreadsheet was posted by @carrieseltzer back in March but I’m not sure the link to get to it.

I don’t think it ever has been? Maybe I’ve missed something though.

Also has anyone been able to update the statuses for @bouteloua’s requests?

I’ve gone through a bunch of the statuses as shown in a column on the spreadsheet, but lots still to check, haven’t had much time. I was messaging with @bouteloua a couple of days ago, I think the spreadsheet should be up-to-date.

I updated the monarchs for all atlantic canada, Sean Blaney is ok with them being set to open. I hope that’s the only changes needed to the spreadsheet.

Good idea, @reuvenm. Here’s a link to the spreadsheet. There are two tabs: April 2018 shows the Canadian statuses at that point in time, and Feb 2019 shows what we used as the basis for the March/May/June updates (which happened in waves).

Thanks Carrie,

Please note that Double-crested Cormorant was not meant to be obscured in Newfoundland/Labrador. However, when a request was made to the Atlantic CDC to open it (based on the older status from Labrador), two responses were received indicating that it should remain obscured and even coming up with a justification for why. Pretty clearly the mindset was not “Is obscuring this species justified?” but rather “How can I make this request go away?” This is clearly inappropriate. Indeed, it seems likely that nobody from Newfoundland or Labrador even saw this request, as they presumably would have noticed that they had never asked for the species to be obscured in the first place.

That said, the fact that Monarchs are now being opened up is a sign that there has been some positive change in process over there, so hopefully this is not something that will happen again.

1 Like

I don’t think it’s helpful to project motivations here, as there may be other factors in play, though I understand your frustration in this case since it seems to conflict with the outlined process. @allisonsw_nsc is organizing conversations with the CDCs to talk with them about the process to date and the role they would ideally like to play moving forward. The process we’ve gone through with Canada is not scalable to other countries, and not an ultimate solution for Canada either, so we definitely want to figure out how to make this easier and more transparent for everyone.

1 Like

A post was split to a new topic: Obscuration by day?

In the mushroom world, it’s very common, especially for edible mushrooms. That said, people who forage for edibles (e.g. morels, chanterelles) generally don’t like to share the locations where they found the mushrooms.

Apologies, yes I was overly hostile there, it is also possible that it was just done quickly without proper care.

1 Like

I have gone through the spreadsheet, checking and updating statuses on iNat. All are now matching the spreadsheet with the following exceptions where I’m not sure what exactly the request status is. Have tagged the relevant person(s) for each who is probably best able to answer:

  1. @allisonsw_nsc Blue Ash (Fraxinus quadrangulata), Ontario - is shown as “open” in the spreadsheet, with no explanation provided. However, the flag indicates that NHIC wants it to be obscured. Maybe need to ask Mike or someone else at NHIC to confirm this as well as #2 below.

  2. @allisonsw_nsc Rimmed Elf Ear Lichen (Normandina pulchella), Ontario - Shown as obscured on the spreadsheet, but set to open on iNat, and taxon most recently edited by Mike Burrell (curator who also is at the Ontario CDC). I’m guessing the opening on iNat was a mistake on his part but want to confirm

  3. [no action required unless someone disagrees] Polar Bear - obscured by some provinces, open in others. However, has a global obscure status that is overriding the provinces where it’s open. There were a couple of other cases like this where I felt comfortable setting the global status to “open”, but this one I’m leaving obscured. It occurs regularly in countries where no status is listed on iNat (Russia, Svalbard, Greenland), and also occurs in international waters.

  4. @allisonsw_nsc Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacorax auritus), Labrador - See above post. Not sure what to do with this, maybe need to contact Atlantic CDC, with the added info that the province never asked for this species to be obscured in the first place. Currently open on iNat (as it has been since before March I believe).

  5. @bouteloua The following species indicate that you sent an “appeal” on August 14, but no response is listed. I’m guessing these were never actually sent?

  • Aquatic Pelt Lichen (Peltigera hydrothyria), Atlantic Canada
  • Frosted Glass-whiskers Lichen (Sclerophora peronella), Nova Scotia
  • Monarch (Danaus plexxipus), Alberta
  • Wrinkled Shingle Lichen (Pannaria lucida), Atlantic Canada
  1. @allisonsw_nsc Allison made the comment for the following lichens “Not on any provincial list to be obscured”. Some of these were errors on iNat, but some others are indeed listed on the provincial obscure lists (although understandably missed as there are taxonomic changes):
  • Pectenia plumbea – New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia (synonym of Degelia plumbea)
  • Viridothelium virens (synonym of Trypethelium virens)
  • Xanthomendoza fallax (synonym of Xanthoria fallax)
  • Xanthomendoza hasseana (synonym of Xanthoria hasseana)
  • Phaeophyscia constipata (is on the provincial list to be obscured for ON and SK)

I assume these species were never actually sent to a CDC? If so I think the best strategy would be for me/someone make a new request for them and pretend the previous one never happened.

  1. @bouteloua there’s a whole bunch of lichens listed as having a request sent on July 18, but no further notes (e.g. Phaeophyscia squarrosa). I assume these were more requests that were never actually sent? If so, again I think best strategy is for me/someone make a new request for them and pretend the previous one never happened.
1 Like

Addendum to the above, forgot to indicate the Double-Crested Cormorant in Nunavut should also be listed under #5.

5: All those were sent on Aug 14 and no response has been received. Including cormorants in Nunavut.

6/7: I don’t have the patience right now to check which of those and others were sent (I’m on a phone), but I gave up looking at these partially because:

@allisonsw_nsc 14 Aug 2019: I won’t forward on all the fungi missed in Ontario. It took a long time finding which province each fungi was in and when I finally completed it I realized that Ontario had missed a lot from the request. I have already emailed them about this.

@reuvenm: Since the above message is unclear to me and there hasn’t been any follow-up, I just sent additional emails for those several dozen lichens.

For polar bears, I had some correspondence with Allison and Nunavut CDC. There is concern about a hunting/harvesting threat for observations that are posted shortly after they were observed. There is no concern for old observations, but iNaturalist doesn’t have a way of treating observations differently based on the time since the observation. Therefore, I think it is appropriate at this time to leave polar bears globally obscured.

No doubt that’s true. But is there any evidence inat specifically is increasing this in any way? It’s a real question not a loaded one but I think in some cases the risk is overstated. Does inat lead to a net increase in mushroom collection? I kind of doubt it. But unfortunately it’s very hard to get data.

I don’t know because I would expect that before and after statistics are impossible to come by, but I’ve heard of mushroomers looking at maps on iNat for other species associated with habitat where choice edibles are likely to grow – so even observations of non-mushroom species could draw people to an area where they otherwise would not have gone.

1 Like

But it sounds like they are going to be gathering mushrooms anyway so it may not affect how many are gathered. Of course like you say how does one even document that? I tend to avoid posting or obscure stuff that I worry would be overharvested. But I’m not gonna avoid mapping habitat or common species with no risk for that reason.

1 Like