Section A. How to respond to a flag requesting to add a new taxon

Modified on Fri, 01 Sep 2023 at 12:15 PM

Table of Contents

Requests of this kind are generally like "Please add Chalepa hauensteini". To resolve these flags, follow these steps:


Step 1: Make sure only one taxon is being requested

Generally, we try to add taxa as they are observed or individually requested to avoid having the complexity of maintaining empty branches. If a flag is requesting many species at once, comment and clarify whether there are already observations of all those species.




Step 2: Make sure the taxon hasn't already been added

Use the search bar to check that the requested taxon doesn't already exist as either an active taxon or synonym before proceeding to Step 3.



Sometimes the name exists as an inactive taxon. Inactive taxa aren't returned by the menu bar search and you can ignore them. But if you want to see if inactive taxa exist, navigate to the taxa search page and search for the name with "Show active and inactive taxa" toggled on. If a taxon was previously active and was inactivated as the result of a taxon change, don't reactivate it, rather make a new one. But if someone created an inactive taxon but didn't activate it, feel free to activate it rather than creating a new one as described in Step 5 below.


If the requested taxon exists only as a synonym of an active taxon, treat this as a request to change the name of a taxon and follow the steps in Section B below.



If the requested taxon exists as an active taxon, then add a comment to the flag with a link to the taxon indicating it's already been added, and resolve the flag.




Step 3: Determine whether the taxon you'd create would be a leaf or internode

If the request is to add a leaf, such as a species to a genus or a subspecies to a species, proceed to Step 4. If the request is to insert an internode, such as a complex in between a genus and a set of species or a subfamily in between a family and a set of genera, proceed to Section E below.




Step 4: Determine whether the taxon would be covered by a taxon framework

To do this, navigate to the parent taxon page, click the "Taxonomy" tab, and then click "Taxonomy Details".


If it says "Not covered by any taxon framework", proceed to Step 5a.


If the parent is covered by a taxon framework, then navigate to the taxon framework page by clicking the link to that framework (e.g. "taxon framework for Kingdom Fungi").


Now, check the downstream coverage rank (e.g. "rank subspecies"). If the taxon you’re planning to create falls upstream of that cutoff on the tree (e.g. species is upstream of subspecies), then the taxon you're planning to create would be covered by a taxon framework (proceed to Step 5b). Otherwise, it would not (proceed to Step 5a).



Step 5a. Creating a taxon not covered by a taxon framework

Do a quick check to make sure the taxon being requested is legitimate. You might check or ask for the source provided by the requestor, search an external database, or just perform a quick google search to confirm that there are no typos in the name and that the taxon seems to be legitimate. If it's not, ask the requester for more information.


Check to see that the parent of the requested taxon exists as an active taxon on iNaturalist. For example if you are being asked to create species Campiglossa achyrophori, check to make sure genus Campiglossa already exists. If it does not, start by creating the genus first and then create the species working from the root of the tree towards the leaves.


To create a new taxon, use the "Create a New Taxon" button in the "Ungrafted Taxon" box on your dashboard. (There are also new taxon buttons on the taxon curation and taxon change pages.) Add the name, rank, and parent, source (a link or article source, if possible), and click save.


Please link to the flag in the "Why are you making this change?"; box at the bottom of the form to help others determine where this request came from.



Step 5b. Creating a taxon covered by a taxon framework

Check the taxon framework page to determine if the taxon framework has a source. When taxon frameworks have sources, it means iNat and the external source are formally connected via taxon framework relationships.


If the framework has a source (e.g. "Defines a Taxon Framework for Cnidaria sourced to WoRMs"), then visit the source (e.g WoRMs) and search to make sure the requested taxon is still a valid taxon in the reference.


If it is, create the taxon as described in Step 5a, but afterwards make sure to add a taxon framework relationship. Do this by clicking on "Taxonomy Details" from the newly created taxon page:



Then click "Add relationship":


Then fill in the Scientific Name and Rank, Parent Name and Parent Rank, and URL. Save.



This will create a "Relationship: Match" Taxon Framework Relationship


If the taxon you are being asked to make isn't listed in the source (e.g. WoRMS) as an active taxon (i.e. it's not in the reference at all or only as a synonym), then resolve the flag with a comment such as:




The taxon framework page descriptions include the contact information for the external source:


If the taxon framework does not have a source (e.g. "Defines a Taxon Framework for Fungi"), then read the description to see if there’s any instructions or guidelines on what should be done for that branch. Even if there is no formal source linked up through taxon framework relationships, the description might mention an informal source such as "We try to follow Butterflies of the Americas when possible".


Based on this information decide whether the requested taxon is warranted or not. Either add it as usual (you won't need to create a taxon framework relationship since there's no source), or resolve the flag as usual with a comment explaining why you're not adding the taxon.



Step 6. If you added an infraspecies, ensure nominate exists

If you added a subspecies or variety, e.g. Tetradymia canescens var. thorneae, make sure the nominate, e.g. Tetradymia canescens var. canescens, also exists. On iNaturalist, all non-nominate infraspecies should have an active sibling representing the nominate.



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