Content Author Object Flagger Flag Created Reason Resolved by Resolution
alice_abela Cuesta Ridge Timema (Timema 'cuestaridge') bouteloua Fri, 13 Jul 2018 23:54:51 +0000

creation of taxa with single quotes causes issues throughout the website





redirects to
instead of

Provisional/undescribed species should typically be left at genus on iNaturalist. We could use a observation field "holding bin" to categorize and sort them, e.g.

iNaturalist is now following Phasmida Species File as a taxonomic authority.

Posted by bouteloua almost 4 years ago (Flag)

Is there any way to organize known undescribed species? For those that are known, I really don't want to lump them in with all those that can't be identified past genus for various reasons.

Posted by alice_abela almost 4 years ago (Flag)

That's what the holding bins help with,
e.g. observations of frogs that can only be IDed based on breeding calls or DNA, but are either Hyla chrysoscelis or Hyla versicolor, not some other unknown Hyla sp.:

Posted by bouteloua almost 4 years ago (Flag)

I guess I'm not understanding how holding bins work and how to define them, and how to readily view and search them. They don't show up when you view the taxonomy of the genus? How do you know if there are holding bins in place?

Posted by alice_abela almost 4 years ago (Flag)

They're all listed at

All observation fields appear on the right side of an observation page, e.g.
You can click the name of the holding bin to view it, or select "Observations with this field and value."

bin for Phasmida:

Posted by bouteloua almost 4 years ago (Flag)

But if someone goes to the genus Timema (or any other genus) how do you know what bins are in place?

Posted by alice_abela almost 4 years ago (Flag)

One doesn't, because it's not really an official iNat feature that's built into any other pages.

@loarie, any guidance or future plans for provisional taxa like this?

Posted by bouteloua almost 4 years ago (Flag)

This is a tricky one. I think the holidng bin idea works great for categories that don't map to nodes on the tree of life (eg either this species or that species)

In terms of newly described species though, its more like a question of what taxonomy to use. As Cassi said it sure would be simplest just to use Phasmida Species File. But if that isn't sufficient to get buy in from the community (e.g. Alice) maybe its worth deviating from Phasmida Species File? Its really up to the community to come to some consensus.

Is getting Phasmida Species File to add Timema cuestaridge an option?

(excuse my ignorance on this, but I don't totally understand what makes a species 'provisional'. e.g. What are the steps that would need to be taken to remove the quotes from 'cuestaridge'?)

Posted by loarie almost 4 years ago (Flag)

It hasn't been formally described. The epithet "cuestaridge" refers to the place it was found (Cuesta Ridge in CA) and is apparently unlikely to be its final name. See

Posted by bouteloua almost 4 years ago (Flag)

pardon my naivite but would the proper order of operations be to prioritize:
1) formally describing it
2) getting external references like Phasmida Species File to integrate it
3) add it to iNaturalist

And in the interim use a holding bin or coarser ID (like genus)?

In my humble opinion, the 'right' answer is the one the iNat community can reach consensus around (and has the time to maintain) whether thats Phasmida Species File, something entirely custom or something in between. But iNat requires a single consensus taxonomy

Posted by loarie almost 4 years ago (Flag)

I guess my main issue is with the holding bins being so obscure, they're not easy to pull up and look at all the observations of a given undescribed species by someone not already in the know. Is there a way to make the holding bins show up at the genus, species, etc. level?

I think having these readily "findable" could be really useful for research, especially when they have a common name that's well recognized. I'll go with whatever you decide, but I spent hours going through all the Jerusalem crickets and pulling out the mahoganys and it would be really disappointing if all these got buried in the vast number of unknowns in that genus.

Posted by alice_abela almost 4 years ago (Flag)

@loarie As you write first the species should be described, after that we can give a good ID here in inaturalist.
Each species is an hypothesis when they are desrcibed. Before that the hypothesis doesn't exist, although the organisms already exist. So we should wait till the species is described.
There is a posibility to create a button to mark the observations that we think are new species that are already being described? And after the publication is done we could put the rigth name to the observation. what do you think about that?

Posted by ulm13 almost 4 years ago (Flag)

Quite some time ago, we had a long discussion on the Google group regarding the pros and cons of adding provisionally named taxa ( I won't start repeating all of this but just want to say that I'm still opposed to placeholder / tag names becoming part of iNat's taxonomy.

It would be great if iNat had an option to create better holding bins for use cases like the one mentioned here.

Posted by jakob over 3 years ago (Flag)

Hi folks - revisiting this taxon. This is our only unaccounted for Phasmida in an otherwise very well curated branch referencing Phasmida Species Files - see

Lets bite the bullet and pick one of two options:
1) Deviate from Phasmida Species File and treat this as Timema cuestaridge (iNat no longer accepts ' in scientific names so this taxon is not validating as it is) - a wholly new species that does seem to be rather disjunct from other Timema species

2) Swap this taxon into Timema which will replace IDs of it with IDs of Timema. It should be easy to find these observations since its so disjunct, but there are other ways to keep track of them if needed (tags, observation fields, even a project)

My preference is 2 just because its more elegant and requires less caveats from our reference. But I don't feel strongly one way or the other My main goal is to choose 1 or 2 so we can resolve this flag and address this taxon that isn't validating due to the ' in the name


Posted by loarie 7 months ago (Flag)

My vote is 2 for this and any other cases: let's avoid "tag names" or whatever you want to call it, ie names for currently undescribed species. Timema cuestaridge is a nomen nudum - something iNat shouldn't support in any way.

Posted by jakob 7 months ago (Flag)

good with #2

Posted by bouteloua 7 months ago (Flag)

I am strongly for #2, especially if iNat cannot format names differently with undescribed taxa. If there are no quotation marks and the name is still in italics, then there is nothing to distinguish it from a valid name. As it stands it is certainly a nomen nodum and we shouldn't be using them. I've used holding bins for heaps and heaps of undescribed taxa, and they work very well in my experience. They can be a little difficult to find, but they work well for keeping everything in one place

Posted by matthew_connors about 1 month ago (Flag)

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