Updates to conservation statuses in progress in Canada

Just a couple of comments:
Dusky Dancer is wrongly categorized, there are at least 2 locations for them in the Hamilton area, same with Blue-tipped dancer, there are at least 2 known locations outside SW Ontario (at least I know of them, and I assume others do)

Great Blue Skimmer is more likely a vagrant than an established population (ie is the one spot in the Windsor area considered a breeding location ?), I’m not sure of the value of obscuring any vagrant as where they have been seen in the past is of no predictive value as to where they will be in the future

One minor comment, you note a category of ‘well documented in other places’, the same holds true for basically everything you recommend to keep obscured, so it seems a bit of having it both ways (not that I disagree with the ones to keep obscured)

Agree on Southern Spreadwing - anything identified as this in Ontario is likely misidentified, assuming it is even a separate species

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Thanks Mike,

On reflection, I think this sounds quite workable. One request I would make, though, is for any decisions around modifying the obscuration status be posted somewhere public. I can imagine submitting a few requests, and I’d like to avoid wasting your time (and mine).

Perhaps the process could be modified to include a preliminary step: “check this place to see if your species has already been considered, and note that decisions are unlikely to be reversed without compelling new information”? The wording could be better, but I think the idea makes sense.

t

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Dusky Dancer is wrongly categorized, there are at least 2 locations for them in the Hamilton area, same with Blue-tipped dancer, there are at least 2 known locations outside SW Ontario (at least I know of them, and I assume others do)

Yeah… I just didn’t see the need to spend dividing things into tons of really specific categories that don’t ultimately change anything. Ultimate point is that they are more widespread along rivers than a basic count of sites would indicate.

Great Blue Skimmer is more likely a vagrant than an established population (ie is the one spot in the Windsor area considered a breeding location ?), I’m not sure of the value of obscuring any vagrant as where they have been seen in the past is of no predictive value as to where they will be in the future

Thought there was a breeding population but am probably wrong. Ultimately I’m not too concerned about being completely accurate in every respect with this kind of thing… NHIC will pick up on whatever errors I’ve made.

One minor comment, you note a category of ‘well documented in other places’, the same holds true for basically everything you recommend to keep obscured, so it seems a bit of having it both ways (not that I disagree with the ones to keep obscured)

Yeah… hard to concisely spell out what I’m trying to say here. It’s more that I don’t think there is any reason to hide any newly discovered Spatterdock Darner sites. Whereas it could be justified for Rapids Clubtail, even though several sites are already well known.

So, I just encountered a species set to geoprivacy=private in Ontario. I hadn’t realized that was an option: it completely removes observations from the map, instead of obscuring them. I thought it was a bug: https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/hognose-snake-observations-not-showing-in-ontario/4154

Looking at the list of observations in Ontario which are private, it looks like there are only about a dozen species this applies to (the ones on the bottom of the list are observations which were misidentified at one point as one of the others). I understand needing to do more than just obscure the bat observations, since it might be possible to find bat caves by searching within a 10 km x 20 km area, and American Ginseng is probably the most well-known plant poaching/collection target, but I think the rest of these species should be reviewed to see whether they should merely be obscured rather than private, especially the two most commonly observed: Eastern Fox Snake and Eastern Hognose Snake. Thoughts?

The other plants are also collection risks, and some reptiles are at high risk of collection for the pet trade. I suspect all of these, except the mis-ids at the bottom, are appropriately private.

However, it would be nice to have this explicitly stated somewhere, so the issue doesn’t come up every time someone new notices this and thinks it’s a bug, or over-zealous curation.

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You all have a problem with jack in the pulpit and red elderberry being collected? Those are both super abundant in Vermont and I literally have random jack in the pulpit popping up in my yard. Should I be propagating and selling it? Maybe I could start a JITP farm. Isn’t elderberry in the landscape trade?

But… it’s a small list and appears the species were selected due to actual risk rather than localized rarity so… I don’t have an issue with it.

Someone misidentified 1 Jack-in-the-pulpit as American Ginseng, and hasn’t withdrawn their ID, so the observation is private. Same with 1 Red-berried Elder. Neither species is obscured, in general (just look at the hundreds of other observations in Ontario).

For the snakes, do they have some permanent location like a hibernaculum which might be threatened by having obscured locations instead of private?

Ooooh. That makes sense. Thanks.

It does seem a bit pointless to be obscuring those two species when the Ontario Herp Atlas (https://ontarionature.org/oraa/maps/) is providing locations to a greater degree of accuracy than the obscuring algorithm here (10 km x 10 km in herp atlas, something around 12 x 20 km on iNat.) Note that two extremely vulnerable species (Spotted and Wood Turtle) are not included there.

Similarly, the Ontario government website shows more detailed locations for some species than obscured observations give you. e.g.
https://files.ontario.ca/environment-and-energy/species-at-risk/mnr_sar_sma_whi_lad_sli_map_en.pdf
https://files.ontario.ca/environment-and-energy/species-at-risk/mnr_sar_eas_pra_fri_orc_map_en.pdf

Great suggestion - how about this is suggested in the feature requests? It would actually make even more sense to have this for all the other jurisdictions outside of Canada sooner since there there is no way to keep track of which curator makes changes to geoprivacy and why (and nothing to stop another curator from just going and reversing it the second it changes).

Mike

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Hi all,
Please see four points below:

  1. To keep things organised, I’ve created a Google Sheets for Ontario obscuring requests to NHIC. You can see it here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1rlSqVt-t1NBIjF_OsYk7q4LgdW-SYV33SggAZMk9t-U/edit?usp=sharing. Hopefully this is a good way to avoid repetition and confusion. If anyone thinks they may want to be able to edit the sheet, please message me your gmail account and I can add you as an editor. I’m hoping that this spreadsheet can be a comprehensive list of:

    a. Where a request was made to unobscure, regardless of what decision was
    b. Where a request was made to obscure, regardless of what the decision was (so far this hasn’t happened as far as I know)
    c. Any internal NHIC decisions to change geoprivacy (I don’t know if this has happened yet)

  2. I’ve had a response about my Odonata request. You can see the results in the spreadsheet (33 of 51 requested species will be unobscured). I haven’t actually made the changes on iNat yet but will do so soon.

  3. From this thread, I see requests that NHIC has acknowledged for several species. Some of these species have been unobscured, and some are still obscured, but I don’t know if this was the result of NHIC decisions or if all these species have actually been considered. What is the status of these requests?

Species Current Status on iNat
American Chestnut Open
Blue Ash Open
Butternut Open
Eastern Redbud Open
Honey-locust Open
Imperial Moth Obscured
Kentucky Coffee Tree Obscured
Monarch Open
Pignut Hickory Obscured
Pitch Pine Obscured
Red Spruce Obscured
Sundial Lupine Obscured
  1. I know of at least two species that “should” be obscured but are open on iNat that were not discussed in this thread: Snapping Turtle and Eastern Ribbonsnake. Is this an error or a decision made by NHIC (internally or from a request), and are there any other such species? Ideally these should be listed somewhere (i.e. in the spreadsheet) so that site curators are able to tell whether a change was made properly after NHIC consultation.

Yeah, i though we had agreed the hickory, pitch pine, and red spruce should be un-obscured, but maybe they thought I was going to do so? Things got very frantic here as we are expecting a new baby any minute so i don’t really have time to go and do so now, but maybe we should just un-obscure them unless i am reading this wrong.

I don’t see anywhere in this thread where that decision was made. I don’t know if there were any conversations elsewhere though

Well it looks like I asked and didn’t hear back but maybe better to send an email before unobscuring. If I have time I will but I may not for a while.

I had an email from Mike saying that they would un-obscure both the Monarch and Imperial Moth. I saw that only the Monarch was changed on iNat and sent Mike a follow-up but he is out of the office until next week and I’m not sure whether he’s reading emails while he’s out.

Actually, looks like Imperial Moth was changed, but the issue was that the subspecies was set to be obscured globally. I’ve changed that to open so all records should be working properly now. It is still obscured in the states.

Actually looking at flags I can see that for Kentucky Coffee-tree, Pignut Hickory, Red Spruce, Pitch Pine and Sundial Lupine, NHIC has decided that they should remain obscured (e.g. https://www.inaturalist.org/flags/372047).

Has this been explained somewhere? What potential threat do open locations pose to Pitch Pine or Pignut Hickory in Ontario?

Wow, I don’t remember getting that notification of that flag being resolved. :\

Flag:

@bouteloua: Kentucky coffeetree (Gymnocladus dioicus): should not be obscured in Ontario

Flag resolution:

@mikeburrell: Staff from the Ontario Conservation Data Centre (NHIC) have reviewed an official request and left the geoprivacy as obscured.

I didn’t bother linking but the other 4 flags are identical.

Um yeah, this is not being handled the way it should be. No one notified me either, nor was i given an explanation for this bizarre and inappropriate decision. I’d love to hear their explanation for this.

@carrieseltzer can you please address this? This really isn’t acceptable. No one responded to my request, no one explained a bizarre and arbitrary decision with no conceivable conservation benefit. This is indeed one NHI office overriding both the science and the community without offering an explanation. I think we are at least owed the latter.

Very disappointing.

is there a way to unresolve a flag? will you ban me if i decide to unobscure it myself? You can blame me when all the big bad spruce poachers come, that’s fine.