What should we do to observations of undescribed species?

I have found many observations of undescribed species or in doubt of existing species on iNat, especially in my expertise, dragonflies and damselflies of Indonesia and nearby country. Most of them are still at “needs ID”
But i’m asking for the general, Should i check no on “can the community ID still be confirmed or improved” box so the obs be research grade? Should i just leave it at the current status? Should i compile them in one project so they’re easier to find?



Leave them as needs ID.


Have there been any past efforts to create a large-scale (global) project for undescribed species obs? The closest I know of is the First Photographs of Living Specimens, but the focus of that project is quite different. I could see a project curated for undescribed species being quite useful.


Observation fields can be useful for flagging undescribed species, hybrids, etc. See examples:


@keirmorse This is another one that can’t be found using your search

I guess I’ll go back and remove my checkmark for no, it can’t be improved on undescribed gall observations
PS these checkmarks made it research grade at genus, not relegated to casual

the ID can be improved once the species is described, so the answer would be yes it can still be improved, even if not just yet


We’ve created a second website (gallformers.org) with a database to organize info on undescribed galls, and a bespoke observation field (Gallformers Code) just for tracking observations of those galls.


best to save them somewhere! A project would be a way in iNaturalist, or else just save the links somewhere - you might be in a position to describe/research these species or collaborate with someone on this, so it is valuable information for you and the scientific community!


Have I said thank you enough for all the work you and your gall colleagues have done? Thank you!!


I’d say use the narrowest accurate taxon possible and then leave a comment. For example, if you found a new species of human, you’d tag it with the genus Homo and then add a comment such as “Homo cf. sapiens”; the “cf.” indicating it’s most similar to that species.

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I’d write in comments that the species may be undescribed, and leave as “needs ID” after making the most specific ID possible. Also, in some cases articles/databases include prior descriptions of undescribed species which these ones may be possible to match to.

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If perhaps you know of someone who is expert in the Genus/species, it may be worthwhile to contact them. Otherwise ‘needs ID’ with a note would be the next best choice. An observation may (or may not) be extremely valuable.

I usually just leave them at “Needs Id”. I run into this problem a lot, examples being the Elgin Buzzard of South Africa, or a majority of a shieldback katydid genera.

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