Taxonomy and iNaturalist

Your goal as an identifier on iNaturalist is to push the identification down the series of ranks, ideally to species or below.

Here are the taxonomic ranks used in biology:

(life; unknown)
Domain (eubacteria, archaea, eukaryotes)
Phylum or division
species (written as Genus species)

There are subclasses, subfamilies, superfamilies, subgenera, etc. Tribes are below subfamilies but above genus. Sections are below tribes and above genus. Within species there are subspecies (or also varieties, in plants). A complex is a group of organisms that are related and look very much alike, e.g. the Complex Hyla versicolor, which includes the gray tree frogs H. versicolor and H. chrysoscelis, both widespread in the Midwest and eastern North America.

iNaturalist will keep track of all this for you. Your task is to apply the lowest (smallest) name you feel confident in applying to the observation.

For plant names, iNaturalist follows POWO, Plants of the World On-line. That means sometimes it fails to use a name your or I prefer. Or it fails to recognize species you and I do. This is just real. I mean, we have to deal with it. We can argue for change and sometimes, if we can point to authority that uses your favorite name, iNaturalist will change. Perhaps you can become a curator some day and, if other curators agree, bring about the change you want. In the mean time, it's fine to include the name you prefer in the comments of the post. That may be useful if the change you want occurs.

Posted by sedgequeen sedgequeen, May 21, 2021 20:47


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