Taxonomic Swap 23137 (Committed on 07-09-2017)

Some taxonomic confusion here - FNA and Plant List treat these as separate species, but Calflora treats them as a single taxon extending from the east to west coasts

Added by loarie on July 10, 2017 05:15 AM | Committed by loarie on July 09, 2017
replaced with


Why did this swap occur?

Oregon Flora Project and Pacific Northwest Herbaria also treat them as separate species (in addition to FNA as you point out).

If only Calflora does not,
why was this swap allowed?

Posted by ckjannabirds almost 7 years ago

iNat's current plant taxonomy policies
are to first follow the following 4 regional floras:
Ngā Tipu Aotearoa, Calflora, GoBotany, Flora of the Southern and Mid-Atlantic States
and if there's disagreement among those, tie break with the plant list.

Of the 4 regional floras, this taxon is only in Caflora and they go with Kalmia polifolia

Posted by loarie almost 7 years ago

Flora of Colorado and USDA also accept K. microphylla. I think it best to go with The Plant List and especially FNA. Though not completely up to date, FNA is much more up to date than The Plant List.

This may not be the place to discuss this, but I am not particularly fond of the current iNat policy. It disproportionately places more decision-making power in the regions that are covered by the regional floras (California, New England, and the SE US). I would probably rather follow The Plant List across the board even though there are considerable problems there. Honestly, I would recommend following FNA for the volumes that are out, follow The Plant List for all others in the US, and assign times every few years to see if the current method is still working well. I may be in the minority here, but there are some problems here that would be good to address.

Posted by nathantaylor over 6 years ago

nathan - my preference would be to address taxonomic nodes globally, even if they are small clades. For example, could you come up with a global list of all species in Kalmia?

This was my best shot at this:
Kalmia angustifolia (syn Kalmia carolina)
Kalmia buxifolia (syn Leiophyllum buxifolia)
Kalmia procumbens (syn Loiseleuria procumbens)
Kalmia cuneata
Kalmia hirsuta
Kalmia latifolia
Kalmia microphylla
Kalmia polifolia
Kalmia ericoides (syn Kalmia simulata)

I'm including Loiseleuria & Leiophyllum as Kalmia, but folding K. simulata into K. ericoides and K. carolina into K. angustifolia
If we can come to consensus on how to treat these nodes globally, then it seems we could skirt these regional issues from mashing up Floras. Kalmia seems like a doable genus since its mostly restricted to North Amer (+ K. ericoides in Cuba and K procumbens circumboreal)

Posted by loarie over 6 years ago

The list looks good, though I am definitely no expert.

Addressing nodes separately would definitely be ideal and I'd like to see it done in places where it can be done, like in this case. In many cases, though, it isn't possible due to the large size of the genus. I'd love to do that for Euphorbia, for instance, but there are over 2000 species and many are taxonomically unstable or unclear. This is even true of the much smaller section Anisophyllum, which only has ~350 species (I've been working about a year to try to compile a complete species list).

I guess my point is that a global approach is certainly best but not always possible even for the people that study them, so it would be good to determine some sort of method for the rest of the cases. Perhaps listing more sources for curators to check would help.

Posted by nathantaylor over 6 years ago

By the way, is there a way to resurrect inactive taxa? It might make things a bit cleaner in the long run than making a new name for one that exists in iNaturalist.

Posted by nathantaylor over 6 years ago

yes if you edit inactive taxa you can make them active. but the best way is to make a taxon swap into the inactive taxon which will activate it

Posted by loarie over 6 years ago

Hi nathan,
Not sure whats going on but i noticed you:
(1) activated Kalmia microphylla 67810 (which I just re-inactivated)
(2) made this draft taxon change

Kalmia polifolia 77604 is an atlased taxon: meaning its explicitly referring to Kalmia polifolia sensu lato which includes Kalmia microphylla. If you wanted to carve Kalmia polifolia off of this taxon, the proper thing to do is a taxon split. just reactivating Kalmia microphylla or worse still swapping Kalmia polifolia into Kalmia microphylla will just muck things up.

But how to split these taxa aside. Under iNat's current policies for plant taxonomy its unclear to me that these should be split (see my comment above). My reading under the current policies is that Kalmia microphylla should be lumped into Kalmia polifolia. If people feel that iNat's current policies for deciding plant taxonomy aren't working we should reassess the policy. But under the current policies I don't think there's justification to split this taxon.

Posted by loarie over 6 years ago

Sorry. I wasn't clear on how to do it and thought that, since it was on your list, It would be good to take it out. I'd be in favor of either changing the policies to go in a different direction or trying to add to this list of sources to get a more balanced perspective. The hard part of adding is that there aren't a lot of local databases. If we could pool from text resources, that would be ideal, though that limits accessability to the sources and means that the policies might have to either change again if the text gets too outdated or preferentially accepts names from newer publications. I guess it would be good to start a post on the google group?

In this particular case, there seems to be a disconnect between the preferred databases and what is more broadly accepted by botanists. I honestly don't know much about Kalmia, but I do know that Flora of Colorado is an amazing book and that Flora of North America is also usually really good (it has become the go-to source for many botanists for the volumes that have been published).

Posted by nathantaylor over 6 years ago

Should this taxon swap be reversed now that POWO is the iNaturalist authority?

Posted by gwark over 5 years ago

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