Meet the First Phlox pattersonii Plant on iNat! - Observation of the Week, 2/8/22

Our Observation of the Week is the only Phlox pattersonii observation on iNaturalist! Seen in Mexico by @manuelnevarez.

One of the cool (but sometimes frustrating!) things about iNat is that you never know when your observation will finally get that species ID! Well, it took five years for Dr. Manuel Nevárez de los Reyes’s observation to get there, and here’s the story.

In May of 2016, Manuel Nevárez was working towards his PhD in Biological Sciences with a concentration in Wildlife Management and Sustainable Development at Autonomous University of Nuevo León. Research for his doctoral thesis - Herpetofauna of the Sierra de Gomas in the North of Nuevo León - took him, as you would expect, to the Sierra de Gomas mountains. In addition to reptiles and amphibians, Manuel is interested in plants and other organisms so he photographed the plant you see above and posted it to iNat. Some IDs were added by the community, but last year @grahamayer added an ID of Phlox pattersonii and this ID was confirmed a few months ago by @alan_prather, who described the species back in 1994, making it the first and still only observation of this plant on iNaturalist!

I reached out to Alan about this plant, and he told me it’s the very first plant species he described, which he did while working on his PhD. “I had been poking around in Phlox from Mexico when one day I came into the herbarium and found a specimen of Phlox on my desk,” he recalls. 

A fellow student had collected it from the same canyon where this observation was made and left a note asking me to identify it because he couldn’t figure out what species it was. I knew immediately that it wasn’t a species known from Mexico, and after poking around I found a few other specimens of this species that had either been mis-identified, or just filed away without an identification. So I compared it to other North American Phlox to be sure it wasn’t a disjunct population of a species from Texas or Arizona and I was able to describe it as a new species.

I’ve been there to collect it myself, and I have to say that it’s a beautiful area. The town of Bustamante is lovely, folks are friendly, and the Grutas de Bustamante are fascinating. And the area is full of cool plants like Pinguicula bustamanta and Poliomintha bustamanta

My favorite thing about iNaturalist is how anyone can make really special observations (in this case, anyone being a vertebrate biologist who has come to appreciate the beauty of plants).

As for Manuel (above), he’s currently working for an environmental consultancy, sampling flora and fauna and preparing environmental impact reports. He’s described not only a species of lizard (Gerrhonotus lazcanoi), but also several plants, including Pinguicula bustamanta  - discovered around the same time and area as his Phlox pattersonii observation - and Astrophytum caput-medusae (with @aztekium_tutor).

“For me,” says Manuel, “the use of iNaturalist is a way to learn from other fields of biology that are not my specialty. Photographing and identifying what I find in the field is a habit that I acquired a long time ago and has allowed me to learn a lot.”


- There are nearly 57,000 observations of plants in the genus Phlox on iNat, check out the most-faved ones!

Posted on 08 February, 2022 22:04 by tiwane tiwane

Comments

Nice find!

Posted by kai_schablewski over 1 year ago (Flag)

Esto es verdadero trabajo de equipo! En verdad te sientes en una comunidad global que traspasa fronteras. Felicidades @manuelnevarez por tus largos años de trabajo, y gracias @grahamayer y @alan_prather por su apoyo con la identificación!
Gracias @tiwane por estas notas que nos recuerdan el valor de iNaturalist.

Posted by aztekium over 1 year ago (Flag)

Felicitaciones!!! que increíble hallazgo :) me hace feliz que México sea una plataforma tan activa y viva!!

Posted by diegoalmendras over 1 year ago (Flag)

Congratulations! Good work!

Posted by susanhewitt over 1 year ago (Flag)

Awesome story, congrats!

Posted by muir over 1 year ago (Flag)

Felicidades por el registro y el trabajo, Manuel.

Posted by tonohernandez over 1 year ago (Flag)

I love it! Such a great point: "My favorite thing about iNaturalist is how anyone can make really special observations.." Extremely grateful for the specialists that take the time to go through all of these observations too! :)

Posted by sambiology over 1 year ago (Flag)

What a fabulous story. Always be observant and you never know what you might find.

Posted by maryah over 1 year ago (Flag)

Great spotting!

Posted by erikamitchell over 1 year ago (Flag)

amazing plant!

Posted by origamilevi over 1 year ago (Flag)

Great story!

Posted by annikaml over 1 year ago (Flag)

@manuelnevarez made a great discovery! Thanks @tiwane for this great write-up! This little plant deserves more attention, like so many others!

Posted by alan_prather over 1 year ago (Flag)

Muchas gracias a todos por sus amables comentarios!

Posted by manuelnevarez over 1 year ago (Flag)

¡Chingón! Otra especie para nuestro bello estado de Nuevo León. Y muy de acuerdo con tu comentario sobre que cualquier persona puede hacer registros muy especiales en esta bonita plataforma, por ello le insisto a mucha gente a que se anime a usarla, uno nunca sabe cuando se va a llevar una gran sorpresa.

¡Saludos!

Posted by luismtyor over 1 year ago (Flag)

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