Explicit Discrepancies from Clements for Birds?

@maxkirsch and I have been working to keep iNaturalist in sync with Clements for birds. Motivated by this post here's a place to propose/discuss any Explicit Discrepancies from the Clements Checklist of Birds of the World.

By explicit discrepancies I mean something like this fake example:
"Clements splits Troglodytes troglodytes (sensu lato) into Troglodytes pacificus ,Troglodytes hiemalis, and Troglodytes troglodytes (sensu stricto). My understanding is that most ornithologists no longer believe that there are differences between these birds, I propose we explicitly deviate from Clements by lumping these as Troglodytes troglodytes (sensu lato)"

This is not a place to propose switching to the IOC World Bird List. But if it turns out that the difference between (Clements + our explicit discrepancies) is closer to IOC than Clements that might be something to consider.

Here's the analysis of top global and regional bird IDers I've been making for various groups of vertebrates. They are:

@markuslilje, @ivanresendizcruz, @d_kluza, @john8, @greglasley, @joshuagsmith, @psweet, @kokhuitan, @momoto-erick, @paultavares, @reddad, @roby, @martingrimm, @inasiebert, @johnnybirder, @jakob, @gawie, @jadonald, @adammyates, @d_kurek, @dpom, @hfabian, @gyrrlfalcon, @cliygh-and-mia, @scops, @amarzee, @camilojotage, @nelson_wisnik, @tegorl



Publicado el diciembre 28, 2017 12:06 MAÑANA por loarie loarie


We may need to review when we update the SANBI dictionary but it appears that Clements does not recognize quite a few subspecies that our local field guides do.

Just a heads-up here: we can tackle these when we load the dictionaries and see the extent of the mismatch.

Publicado por tonyrebelo hace más de 6 años

I'd like to see Yellow-billed Kite Milvus aegyptius split from Black Kite Milvus migrans as well.

Publicado por stanvrem hace más de 6 años

Just checking in here. So it sounds like folks are proposing about a dozen explicit deviations from the Clements global taxonomic reference? If no one disagrees, I can add these to the sync and make the changes.

Also just to clarify my initial post in response to @jakob's comments here https://www.inaturalist.org/posts/13377-tallying-observed-vertebrate-species-with-complete-taxa#activity_comment_1292324 So it looks like people are happy with a bird taxonomy thats 99.9% Clements with about 0.1% explicit deviations. Its pretty easy lift to get there from where we are now by adding a dozen or so explicit deviations to the script that syncs iNat with Clements.

Jakob if you'd like to get there going the other way of alternatively starting with the IOC global taxonomic reference. if you could provide a spreadsheet of exactly how many explicit deviations from IOC would be necessary to get to this same target taxonomy that would be useful as a comparison. If its more than a dozen then that's a heavier lift of maintaining explicit deviations than what we have now, so I can't see any justification to switch global taxonomic references unless I'm missing something. If its the same or less than a dozen, then we'd still need to investigate how accessible IOC data is and whether the Clements syncing script can be adapted to work with IOC which remains unclear but I'd be happy to do.

Publicado por loarie hace más de 6 años

I would argue that iNaturalist should use either Clements or IOC and make no deviations from it (except perhaps newly described species, but that's rare). Both lists are regularly updated, complete and defensible, and I don't see any good reason to build yet another world bird taxonomy with all the messiness and disagreements that creates, when we already have perfectly good ones available. I don't really care which list is used because it really doesn't matter, but given the dominance of North Americans on this site I imagine there'd be a lot of resistance to switching.

At the very least, any changes that aren't in EITHER Clements or IOC should definitely be off the table IMO.

FWIW my understanding is that IOC and Cornell will be discussing this year how to bring the two lists closer in alignment, so in a few years we might truly have a single authoritative global list - I'm hoping!

Publicado por reuvenm hace más de 6 años

I'm with @reuvenm that iNat should use either Clements or IOC and make no deviations given the regular updates of both. I do think it matters which list is being used, and I would argue that IOC should be adopted if iNat really strives to be a global platform. This is likely to cause a few ruffled feathers among North American birders during a transition, but I think a taxonomy that is run by a global body rather than by a geographically biased one is the way to go. And please no comparison of lists and differences, this should be based on general principles.

Publicado por jakob hace más de 6 años

I agree with you reuvenm that there is a complexity/confusion cost to adding explicit deviations to a global taxonomic reference. For example, for Odoanata we can just say 'were using the World Odonata List' whereas for Amphibians we have to say something like 'were using Amphibian Species of the World except in thee 10 places' which is more complex and confusing - not to mention the cost associated with discussing/agreeing on/maintaining those explicit deviations.

However, if there really is one problem taxon that's really causing all the grief with the community than it may be worth that cost.

I agree that I'd MUCH rather just use the Clements global taxonomic reference as is. But I'm not one of the people who prompted this thread by raising said problem bird taxa (I think that was nutcracker and jakob and johnnybirder)?

That said, I have to say that what I had in mind with explicit deviations is something more akin to https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/20904-Turnix-hottentottus Clement's treats Turnix hottentottus ssp. hottentottus & Turnix hottentottus ssp. nanus as ssp under Turnix hottentottus (sensu lato) while other authorities like Birdlife treat them as separate species Turnix hottentottus (sensu stricto) & Turnix nanus. Since these taxa are endemic to Africa, the spirit is that these decisions should be left up to the iNaturalist community engaged in Africa and that if there was a clear preference for Turnix hottentottus (sensu stricto) & Turnix nanus than that would be a good explicit deviation to make. Maybe stanvrem's Yellow-billed Kite Milvus aegyptius split from Black Kite Milvus migrans is a good example of this - I'd have to investigate.

Looking more closely at the first of nutcracker's proposed deviations, this doesn't seem to be the case. For example:
Split Green-winged Teal Anas carolinensis from Eurasian Teal Anas crecca (IOC)
Clements has Anas crecca (sensu lato) occurring in both North America and Eurasia wile IOC has Anas crecca (sensu stricto) in Eurasia and Anas carolinensis in North America. Since this change would only really affect members of the iNat community engaged in North America (ie they would be the only ones seeing a name change from Anas crecca to Anas carolinensis. And since North American birders are almost certainly going to defer to the American Ornithological Union regional source which las these American birds as Anas crecca, this would seem to be a very poor example of how explicit deviations could be used to get more regional buy in from a global taxonomy.

So maybe a better approach would be to ask whether anyone agrees with any of nutcrackers proposed explicit deviations. I haven't had a chance to review them all, but I'd definitely be opposed to Anas carolinensis as it would change the name of North American birds from whats in the AOU without improving anything for Eurasian birds.

Publicado por loarie hace más de 6 años

I didn't suggest a single exception from Clements. All I'm proposing is to adopt IOC, which I think would be a consequent change to develop iNat as a global platform. Having said that a couple of times now (with no convincing argument against it), I'll leave it here.

Publicado por jakob hace más de 6 años

jakob maybe you should try to get Clements, Howard & Moore, IOC, and Bird Life International to participate in one of those '4 global-bird-taxonomies enter, only one leaves' kind of rumbles.

Publicado por loarie hace más de 6 años

Scott, it's pretty obvious you've been avoiding an answer since this issue was raised the first time (actually by @johnnybirder). Why do we have these forums here? Please note that I don't feel strongly about bird taxonomy, but I do feel quite strongly about iNat's further development as a global platform. We had long discussions about that, and I thought also shared views.

Publicado por jakob hace más de 6 años

jakob, question: 'I wonder what iNat‘s rationale for sticking to Clements is?', answer: 'because (1) its unclear to us that IOC's list has any more general cred / buy-in than Clements list (or Howard & Moore's or Bird Life International's for that matter) other than that you like it more, and given that we try to adhere to the general principle that (2) change is disruptive and should be avoided unless there's a clear improvement'. But, lets please take this conversation elsewhere since you don't feel strongly about bird taxonomy and since its off topic from our efforts here to try to accommodate specific issues from people who do.

Publicado por loarie hace más de 6 años

This discourse isn't productive towards the stated goals of this thread. I'll restate my intended goals and try to be clearer: can we through polite, diplomatic discourse compromise on a set of explicit deviations from iNaturalist's global taxonomic reference for birds (ie Clements Checklist of Birds of the World) that would resolve any specific bird taxonomic concerns?

If we can't be constructive towards that goal here, I suggest we stick with the status quo of following Clements without exception. Or seek other means to try work towards maximizing the credibility of and buy-in towards iNaturalist's bird taxonomy to current and future iNaturalist stakeholders through minimal disruption.

Update: incase this comment now seems out of context it was in response to some comments previous to it that have since been deleted

Publicado por loarie hace más de 6 años

Hi folks - I've created a collection project with its own journal for the bird related discussions here: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/inaturalist-bird-working-group/journal/17669-a-new-home-for-bird-related-discussions to move this off of my personal thread

Publicado por loarie hace alrededor de 6 años

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