Archivos de diario de agosto 2017

09 de agosto de 2017

Internal Reference Taxonomies: Amphibian Pilot

Generally, iNaturalist’s taxonomic policies are to follow one or more taxonomic sources (e.g. Amphibians of the World and SSAR). The role of iNaturalist curators is to keep the Live Taxonomy on up to date with this External Source Taxonomy.

A problem with this approach is that the iNaturalist community has been reluctant to completely buy into any single External Source Taxonomy, and articulating priority among multiple sources (especially if they are not global) can be difficult. As an alternative, I propose a system where the iNaturalist community agrees upon an Internal Reference Taxonomy which acts as a middleman between the External Source Taxonomy and the Live Taxonomy. We’ll use amphibians as a case study to pilot this alternative.

The Internal Reference Taxonomy relies on one External Source Taxonomy as a foundation. In this case, that external source is Amphibians of the World. However, the Internal Reference Taxonomy can differ from the external source. The process for deciding how the Internal Reference Taxonomy differs from the foundation external source and any other external sources will be to reach consensus among the iNaturalist curator community. Philosophically, we strive to minimize discrepancies between the foundation external source and the internal reference so any discrepancies must be made explicit and justified with reasoning. Philosophically, we also give priority to local external references for taxa that are locally endemic (e.g. if a species is endemic to the US, then deviating from the foundation external source Amphibians of the World to accommodate a US local source such as SSAR may be more justified). Beyond discussing and reaching consensus on the make-up of the Internal Reference Taxonomy, curators will also strive to keep iNaturalist’s Live Taxonomy in sync with this internal reference.

I (@loarie) will take on the work of ‘amphibian czar’ for this pilot to:
A. update the Internal Reference Taxonomy with any agreed upon changes agreed upon here
B. in the event that consensus can’t be reached, act as the tie-breaker

This pilot is an experiment. The costs are that it creates a lot of work for said ‘czar’ and may lead to more taxonomic arguments among curators and the community. The benefits are that it may make for a better maintained taxonomy on iNaturalist with more buy-in from the community. If the benefits outweigh the costs, it might be worth expanding this approach to other taxa or potentially making some functionality changes to better facilitate this approach. If it doesn’t, we’ll revert back to the previous approach.

To kick things off, I’ve made this read-only Internal Reference Taxonomy for Amphibians in a Google Doc. It only considers extant species and explicitly differs from a snapshot of Amphibian Species of the World made on August 8, 2017 as follows:

1. Lumps Aneides flavipunctatus, Aneides iecanus, and Aneides niger as Aneides flavipunctatus
Reasoning: Follows SSAR for these USA endemics

2. Lumps Desmognathus marmoratus, Desmognathus aureatus, and Desmognathus melanius as Desmognathus marmoratus
Reasoning: Follows SSAR for these USA endemics

3. Lumps Desmognathus auriculatus and Desmognathus valentinei as Desmognathus auriculatus
Reasoning: Follows SSAR for these USA endemics

4. Lumps Pseudotriton montanus and Pseudotriton diastictus as Pseudotriton montanus
Reasoning: Follows SSAR for these USA endemics

5. Lumps Trachycephalus typhonius, Trachycephalus macrotis, Trachycephalus quadrangulum, and Trachycephalus spilomma as Trachycephalus typhonius
Reasoning: iNaturalist has a lot of observations of Trachycephalus typhonius so the split will be disruptive. Splitting may be premature since Mexican frogs (Trachycephalus “spilomma”) weren’t formally treated in the paper that coined the split Amphibian Species of the World follows this paper.

6. Lumps Hyla and Dryophytes as Hyla
Reasoning: SSAR hasn’t yet adopted this split, and it will be disruptive on iNaturalist

7. Lumps Pseudacris and Hyliola as Pseudacris
Reasoning: SSAR hasn’t yet adopted this split, and it will be disruptive on iNaturalist

8. Lumps Eurycea quadridigitata, Eurycea hillisi, Eurycea paludicola, and Eurycea sphagnicola as Eurycea quadridigitata
Reasoning: Follows SSAR for these USA endemics

9. Lumps Eurycea spelaea, Eurycea nerea, and Eurycea braggi as Eurycea spelaea
Reasoning: Follows SSAR for these USA endemics

10. Splits Pelophylax bergeri and Pelophylax lessonae from Pelophylax lessonae
Reasoning: While Amphibian Species of the World treats Pelophylax bergeri as a subspecies of Pelophylax lessonae, there are observations of both on iNaturalist so @danieleseglie should probably be consulted before lumping these taxa.

11. Includes Pristimantis bounides, Pristimantis humboldti, and Pristimantis puipui
@coreyjlange added these three newly discovered Peruvian endemics described here that aren’t yet in Amphibian Species of the World but they are legitimate.

While Amphibian Species of the World is a global External Source Taxonomy, SSAR is a local external source for the United States and Canada only. I've also described how our Internal Reference Taxonomy differs from this local external source (using a snapshot of SSAR on August 8, 2017) as follows:

1. Splits Rhinella marina and Rhinella horribilis from Rhinella marina
Reasoning: Amphibian Species of the World has adopted this split and the Mexican community e.g. @coatzin began using it. Because this species which ranges far beyond the US and Canada, it seems reasonable that references other than SSAR should be considered.

2. Includes Anaxyrus williamsi
Reasoning: @aambos observed and @coreyjlange identified this newly described US endemic that Amphibian Species of the World has included. So it seems reasonable to depart from SSAR and include this species.

Next steps

As part of this pilot, curators should now strive to make sure that the amphibian Live Taxonomy on iNat matches the Internal Reference Taxonomy. That means that active taxa not on that list should be swapped accordingly. I've updated the Curator Guide Policies section on Amphibians to reference this post, and please direct any inquiries about iNaturalist’s taxonomic approach for amphibians here.

Similarly, if anyone would like to propose changes to the Internal Reference Taxonomy, please add a comment to this post with your proposal and reasoning. I envision that we’ll have a discussion that loops in the appropriate local expertise on the site and reaches a consensus. I’m hopeful that we can build a polite and open-minded culture towards reaching taxonomic consensus among the community of curators.

Once a change to the Internal Reference Taxonomy is made, curators can help by making the necessary taxonomic change to update the Live Taxonomy. There's been some confusion about how to properly make taxonomic changes on iNaturalist, so hopefully this will be an opportunity to describe the proper steps in more detail necessary to keep everything in sync.

Here's the top identifier figure mentioned in this comment below

Ingresado el 09 de agosto de 2017 por loarie loarie | 37 comentarios | Deja un comentario