Why are observations made and prioritized with common names and not latin names?

Common names can be regional, while latin names can be more universal and descriptive. Acer negundo is a better identifier than Manitoba Maple or Box Elder or Ash-leaved Maple. A robin can refer to an American Robin (a type of thrush and not even a robin) or a European Robin. Turdus migratorius or Erithacus rubecula is much more specific.

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Some of them are only referred to by their taxonomic name, like this Grallipeza nebulosa I observed. There is also an option to opt out of seeing your country’s common names.

I believe one reason for it is for amateur citizen scientists who aren’t as familiar with taxonomic names and, for example, grew up knowing American robins as “robins” and not “Turdus migratorius.” Besides, iNaturalist is also convenient and research-friendly, allowing users to look up broader information about the organisms they identify, so it’s not like anyone’s missing out on essential knowledge.


Under your account setting you can set to show only the latin name as well as show the latin name first.


it looks like this


Thanks, this is very helpful. I guess I have little reason to rant! ;)


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