Content Author Object Flagger Flag Created Reason Resolved by Resolution
ceiseman Section Stigmella salicis group zdanko Sun, 17 Jan 2021 21:44:44 +0000

name is malformed

Not Resolved


To clarify, it's malformed because "group" should not have been included as part of the taxon name, correct?

While "Stigmella salicis group" is used in the literature (
, species groups are not in the iNat framework. Discussion on that here:

Also, sections do not exist as valid taxa in animals:

So is iNat staff OK with using section incorrectly in this way?


Posted by pfau_tarleton 6 months ago (Flag)

I'm not sure why this one was a section; I usually use "complex" for species groups.
I understand that it is malformed. The solution is not to remove the taxon; the solution is to add species group as an option on iNaturalist. Species groups are not the same as complexes, so it is unacceptable to change it to just "complex Stigmella salicis."
Please do not delete any species groups; you would be removing a lot of valuable information without any benefit.

Posted by ceiseman 6 months ago (Flag)

Did you just edit your comment? I could have sworn you said you had changed it to a complex. I then checked and saw that it was still a section, so I changed it to a complex, but then I saw that somebody had changed all the Stigmella species groups from complexes to sections, so I changed it back. It doesn't really matter; both are equally wrong, but as long as "group" is left in there it is clear that it really denotes a species group. I agree that this isn't ideal, but it's the best solution I can come up with as long as iNat staff refuse to create "species group" as a rank.

Posted by ceiseman 6 months ago (Flag)

If you look at the Stigmella genus, it's been divided up into several "sections" by someone.

I agree that removing the groupings would result in loss of information. So we're stuck with a quandary: stick with the invalid taxon rank section, move them to an existing informal rank complex (which may not be equivalent to groups, but no formal definition exists), or remove the groupings entirely (loss of information).

Posted by pfau_tarleton 6 months ago (Flag)

Also, sections have been used in the literature for certain flies, even if Wikipedia (or the ICZN) say that's wrong. Since there have been no publications assigning those sections to "correct" ranks, I think it's appropriate to use sections in those instances.

Posted by ceiseman 6 months ago (Flag)

Yes, I realized that all of the genus was divided up into sections so I just reverted it back to section so that they're at least all the same--and edited my comment.

Posted by pfau_tarleton 6 months ago (Flag)

I agree...seems like the best solution to me. But I'm not running the site--so not sure what iNat staff would prefer. Someone went to a lot of effort to divide these up into "groups", so I'd hate to see them removed.

Posted by pfau_tarleton 6 months ago (Flag)

Yes, I created all the species groups; no idea who changed them from complexes to sections.

Posted by ceiseman 6 months ago (Flag)

@treichard, perhaps discuss to form a consensus before implementing taxonomic changes?

Edit added: I found relevant discussion here

And I believe @treichard's rational is that the Stigmella literature contains reference to species complexes within species groups. So a species complex group would need to be at a rank higher than that of complex.

Since @ceiseman created these taxa at the rank of species complex, and @treichard changed the rank to section, my question would be: are these taxa intended to represent the rank of group or the rank of complex? By adding group after the name, this clarifies--even if it may be malformed.

Posted by pfau_tarleton 6 months ago (Flag)

All of these Stigmella taxa are intended to represent species groups, which are defined in literature. I am not aware of Stigmella species complexes that have been referred to as such in the literature, but I know of some species names that (based on DNA barcoding data) appear to represent two or more species, and the "complex" rank might be appropriate for those--although really we might as well continue to call those species until segregate species are conclusively demonstrated to exist and formally named. @treichard may be aware of complexes that I'm not thinking of at the moment.

There appear to be many insect specialists who have been calling for a "species group" option on iNat for several years now, and I've seen or been involved in a number of discussions where other iNat users (and staff?) insist that it is unnecessary. My impression is that they are invariably not entomologists, unfamiliar with how large and diverse insect genera can be, and do not understand why it's useful to specify a species group that contains a handful of species (some of which may be undescribed) as opposed to leaving the ID at a genus that contains dozens of species. Or they insist that the terms "species complex" and "species group" are interchangeable, which simply isn't true. Not sure what to do about that.

Posted by ceiseman 6 months ago (Flag)

Focusing on the flag--having the word "group" in the taxon name (malformed), this can create problems that are harder to deal with. For example, to remove "group" from the name, one has to create a new taxon and then move the taxon (a very time-consuming task especially when many species names need to be changed). To change rank, one only has to select a different rank form the drop-down. Perhaps it's best to not include the word "group" as part of the name of the group--even though it may seem to help clarify.

Posted by pfau_tarleton 6 months ago (Flag)

I understand the problem, and the best solution I have at the moment is to continue to use these malformed taxon names until it annoys enough people that iNat staff decide to create a species group option. If that ever happens, I will be happy to change all the names of the ones I have created to remove the word "group." Until then, neither removing the word "group" nor deleting the species groups altogether is an acceptable option. If the species groups are referred to simply as complexes, or sections, then they are no longer unambiguously linked to anything that is discussed in the literature.

Posted by ceiseman 6 months ago (Flag)

I saw that Charley (@ceiseman ) had organized many N. Am. nepticulid species into species groups entered at complex rank, which was a great start. But it needed to be done for the whole world, not just one continent. Additionally, some species groups contain species complexes, so the groups at complex rank had to be upranked to make room. So species groups are at section rank, complexes at complex rank. This is also inline with the rest of the Lepidoptera taxonomy. And as Charlie noted, there is no better way to do it without a dedicated species group rank.

I completed entering all the nepticulid groups and complexes from the van Nieukerken et al. 2016 worldwide catalog, and finished filing all the species into them. Some species that were missing in the taxonomy here are still missing, and I may chip away at adding them at some point, though others could also help complete that and looking for synonym duplicates to resolve.

I put a summary of the above nepticulid changes in the new history section of the affected nepticulid genera. More ideally, these notes would also appear in the history for each section and complex taxon, but there is no way I'm aware of to batch-enter such notes.

An issue with the English word "group" appearing in the taxon names is that that field isn't translated to other languages. That's why we're not supposed to include "group" or "complex" there, and the web pages automatically prepend it in the user's language everywhere taxa are displayed. The issues that Charlie mentioned with deleting that word nonetheless remain. I have chosen to exclude the word from the taxon name and instead include it as an extra scientific name that is crossed out as invalid, but still available for species look-ups across the site.

Posted by treichard 6 months ago (Flag)

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