A New Way For Tracking Undescribed Species

Previously I have been tracking recognizable undescribed fungi using the "Tag" feature of iNaturalist. These can then be used in a search yo find all matching ones. A disadvantage of doing this is that you can only add tags to your own observations so you communicate with others in the hope to include all such observations.

Now I am trialling a new way of doing this: using Observation Fields. These can normally be added to any observation so could potentially be easier for including more observations.

As an example, I have first started adding it to my observations of a fungus with the working name Marasmius 'angina' - a fairly common fungus in wet forests of south-eastern Australia. This name has been used by the Field Naturalists Club of Victoria (and possibly fungimap) for over a decade while we wait for it to be described.

Currently Included Fungi Species

Hymenoscyphus 'olive cream with black rhizomorphs'
Found in damp Eucalyptus forests in leaf litter.

Hymenoscyphus 'white bruising orange'
Found on logs in damp-wet forests. When gently scratched with a fingernail these turn yellow after about 10 seconds.

Marasmius 'angina'
Found in fallen branches and leaf litter. Extent of black on stem varies and this may be a species complex. The genus *Paragymnopus* has been suggested.

Mycena sp. indet. A of Grgurinovic
Found on wood in wet forests. Has a slender, yellow stem tending to white by the cap that is quite sturdy. Might belong in the Marasmiaceae family or *Hemimycena*. Also known as Mycena 'epipteroides'.

Bolete 'Jackson's Bend'
Found in wet forest and rainforest. Name as used by Gates & Ratkowsky. Now considered to be *Amoenoboletus* species.

Marasmius 'flat white with short yellow stem'
Found on leaf litter in damp-wet forest with eucalypts, including in the crowns of tree-ferns. Features a fairly flat, white cap with wide, shallow gills and a pale stem usually grading to yellow at the base. These have been microscopically examined and determined to be consistent with *Marasmius* by Virgil Hubregtse.

Lepiota 'pale blue'
Posted on 16 July, 2022 10:29 by reiner reiner


Although this field is deliberately generic and could be used for any organism I will initially only be using it for fungi. Currently the field is free-form text but it could possibly be converted to a limited list (to stop people making mistakes).

It could be used in a similar way to the identification. I'm interested in people's thoughts about its suitability and practicality.
@sofiazed1 @adrian_aus @felix75 @ghjake @petragloyn @mattbarrett @shane_marshall

Posted by reiner almost 2 years ago

Hi @reiner, what a fantastic idea. I can't think of a better way to do targeted searches for keeping a track of 'Undescribed working names'.
The 'info' for the field is pretty concise so hopefully it won't be misinterpreted too often. The only thing to note that might impact utility in the future, is that it doesn't look like a user can modify an existing value in that field for someone else's observation. So for example, once such a species becomes formally described, and the IDs are updated, that field will unlikely be cleaned up. As such would need to filter below species level for keeping track of such records. Will be great to see it being used. EDIT: I was hoping this field would be available in the standard Export Observations page, @reiner do you know if there is a way to add this field for downloads?

Posted by adrian_aus almost 2 years ago

@adrian_aus I'm pretty sure anyone can modify the fields (based on a user's "Who can add observation fields to my observations" Content and Display setting). Feel free to try it on one of my records to see how you go (you should even be able to delete it).

Yes, not filtering to species would allow unidentified observations to be found, though this is fairly easy to do in the filters box.

I agree with possibly needing a list of working names used. The field could be changed to a list but then it becomes too difficult to manage (when it gets large). Probably starting a wiki thread in the forum might be useful but I don't use the forum much as it doesn't work on my main computer (older browser).

Posted by reiner almost 2 years ago

Ahh I see it can be edited and removed, thanks I learnt something new. Maintaining a list would be a challenging, perhaps better to keep it free form so that things can be added easily.

Posted by adrian_aus almost 2 years ago
Posted by petragloyn almost 2 years ago

Sounds like an amazing idea, although I don't know if those features can be accessed through the app, which is where i upload my observations from, and i'm not fully site savvy yet, so I've got some learning to do there.

Posted by sofiazed1 almost 2 years ago

I think this would help quite a lot. I have recently started keeping track of undescribed but distinguishable species in my area and it would definitely be useful to do so on iNat as well. To keep track of these species, maybe anyone who uses this feature could make a journal post similar to Reiner's 'Unknown but identifiable Fungi' to act as a reference list.

Posted by felix75 almost 2 years ago

Just added Bolete 'Jackson's Bend'. I searched all observations from Victoria and Tasmania for Boletaceae (Family level only) and found two observations that aren't mine. Possibly could search NSW too and for any Bolete at genus level.

Posted by reiner about 1 year ago

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