09 de agosto de 2021

Timothy, more of a mystery than you might think

I've been checking identifications of Timothy Grass (Phleum pratense) since mid-2019. The level of misidentification on iNaturalist is . . . interesting. My list is below. If the plant is not a grass, its family name is added in parentheses. Sorry about providing only scientific names.

Although I'm sure humans often misidentified Meadow Foxtail (Alopecurus pratensis) without computer assistance, I think many of these names originated as suggestions by the CV (computer vision program), which seemed to consider anything with a more or less cylindrical inflorescence made up of many little bits to be Timothy. Given the state of identifications for Timothy, this was understandable; the computer is trained on iNaturalist photos and if many of them are misidentified, errors result. I hope that recent corrections help the latest CV version to recognize Timothy more precisely. Of course, even if CV improves, we humans have to choose from among the CV suggestions and are also entirely capable of misidentifying Timothy independently.

Plants identified as Phleum pratense. The first four species listed are very commonly misidentified as Phleum pratense on iNaturalist, and I've seen the others at least once.

Alopecurus pratensis
Alopecurus arundinaceus
Plantago lanceolata (Plantaginaceae)
Phalaris aquatica
Agastache sp. (Lamiaceae)
Agropyron cristatum
Alopecurus aequalis
Ambrosia sp., probaby A. artemsiifolia (Asteraceae)
Anemone cylindrica (Ranunculaceae)
Anthoxanthum odoratum
Apera interrupta
Holcus lanatus, immature
Baptisia sp., immature (Fabaceae)
Betula sp., catkin (Betulaceae)
Carex acutiformis (Cyperaceae)
Carex barbarae (Cyperaceae)
Carex kelloggii (Cyperaceae)
Carex obnupta (Cyperaceae)
Carex pendula (Cyperaceae)
Carex sect. Racemosae (Cyperaceae)
Carex sp. (Cyperaceae)
Celosia spicata (Amaranthaceae)
Chamaelirium luteum (Melanthiaceae)
Cynosurus cristatus
Dalea candida (Fabaceae)
Dactylis glomerata, immature
Eleusine indica
Elymus sp.
Gastridium phleoides
Hordeum brachyantherum
Hordeum sp.
Hypochaeris radicata, in bud (Asteraceae)
Itea virginiana (Iteaceae, formerly Saxifragaceae)
Lepidoptera (a moth caterpillar on a grass stem)
Liatris spp. (Asteraceae)
Muhlenbergia ringens
Muhlenbergia sp.
Pennisetum glaucum
Pennisetum setacea
Phalaris arundinacea
Phalaris caroliniana
Phleum alpinum
Phleum arenarium
Phleum sp.
Plantago coronopus (Plantaginaceae)
Plantago patagonica (Plantaginaceae)
Poa arachnoidea
Polypogon monspeliensis
Populus tremula, catkin (Salicaceae)
Rostraria sp. (probably)
Salix sp., catkin (Salicaceae)
Secale cereale
Setaria faberi
Setaria pumila
Setaria viridis
Triticum aestivum (club wheat, T. a. compactum)
Verbascum thapsus (Scrophulariaceae)
a blond middle school boy with freckles (likely correct, in one sense)

These have been misidentied as Phleum alpinum (in the broad sense):
Carex breweri (Cyperaceae)
Carex scopulorum scopulorum (Cyperaceae)
Carex spectabilis (Cyperaceae)
Carex section Ovales (Cyperaceae)
Cynosurus echinatus
Phyteuma nigrum (Campanulaceae)
Trifolium pratense in fruit (Fabaceae)

On the other hand, these names have been applied to what was actually Phleum pratense:
Acorus calamus (Acoraceae)
Agastache sp. (Lamiaceae)
Alopecurus pratensis
Ammophila breviligulata
Carex sp.
Koeleria macrantha
Phalaris canariensis
Phalaris aquatica
Toxicoscordion venenosa, in fruit (Melaniaceae, formerly Liliaceae)

Ingresado el 09 de agosto de 2021 por sedgequeen sedgequeen | 11 comentarios | Deja un comentario

06 de agosto de 2021

What to photo -- Carex sedges

Identifying Carex on iNaturalist is really hard. Why? First, Carex are diverse (about 2000 species worldwide, close to 500 in North America north of Mexico), and these simple plants have fewer traits than most. Second (partly a result of the first), differences between species are often subtle and often involve a combination of multiple traits. Third, the photos on iNaturalist often don't show the needed traits. You can do something about that third one.

The list below explains the most important traits to photo for Carex identification. Of course, even perfect photo sets may languish unidentified for a while, because Carex identification knowledge is mostly local (another result of that diversity) so even Carex "experts" don't know many of them.

What if you don't photo all these things? Sometimes you don't need to. Sometimes one or two photos are enough. Trouble is, if you don't know what species you're dealing with, you probably don't know which traits you need.

  1. Habitat. Most Carex are microhabitat specialists, so this can be an important clue. You can just make notes, rather than photo, but was it growing in water? In a bog? Lake margin? In upland forest? Prairie? Roadside salted in winter? On serpentine or pumice or other unusual soils?
  2. General appearance. Is the plant cespitose (growing in one clump) or rhizomatous (spreading by rhizomes)? Is the inflorescence nodding or erect? Is it obviously green or blue-green? If the photos don't show these traits well, try to get enough information to remind you, and write about it.
  3. Inflorescence. Are the spikes crowded or separate? Is the lowest inflorescence bract longer or shorter than the whole inflorescence? In some cases (especially if the individual spikes are short) it's important to know if the staminate flowers were at the base or top of the spike, so include a close photo.
  4. Perigynia. Unless the spikes reveal most of the length of the perigynia ( +/- = utricles, fruits), break up a spike and spread the perigynia on your hand (or any other convenient surface) and photo them. Try to show both sides. Get close enough to see the hairs, if the surface is hairy. While you're doing it, include some of the scales (bracts) that grow between the perigynia.
  5. Leaf sheath front. As in grasses, the sedge leaf consists of a blade (usually flat, the part we think of as a leaf) and a sheath (which wraps around the stem). Where's the front? The blade attaches to the back of the sheath -- think of Superman's cape attaching to his shirt. The front of the sheath is the other side, where the big S is on Superman's shirt. The front is usually hyaline (transparent when fresh, whitish when dry). In a few species, it may be green and veined like the back. The front may be brownish or coppery. It may have tiny red dots. The top of the sheath (at the level where the blade attaches) may be flat across or concave, but in a few species it extends upwards like a sheath. In a few species the top is thickened. The sheath may be "cross rugulose," with horizontal waves or corrugations. In many species, the leaf sheath decays leaving a network of fibers.
  6. Plant bases. Some Carex are green all the way down, but in some the lower parts of the leaf sheaths are conspicuously reddish, brown, or black.

(6.5) In certain Carex of eastern North America, the leaf sheath back is also important. Not so much in the Pacific Northwest.

(6.6) The ligule is important in some species, though I don't use it in the ones I know. To photo, pull the leaf blade a little away from the culm (stem) and photo the triangular area where the blade is held tight to the culm by a little membrane.

Ingresado el 06 de agosto de 2021 por sedgequeen sedgequeen | 5 comentarios | Deja un comentario

26 de julio de 2021

Effect of recent heat wave on Douglas-Fir on Highway 20 in the Cascade Range

The unusually hot weather at the end of June had negative effects of people, plants, and other organisms. However, the damage was patchy. I documented the extent of damage to conifers along Highway 20 in Lincoln and Benton Counties, Oregon by driving the road and stopping to photograph plants, then uploading the photos to iNaturalist. Observation numbers, species, and results are results are listed below, along with the approximate location of the observations.

No damage was observed close to the coast, but damage was obvious from a little west of Toledo to approximately the Lincoln/Benton County border. No obvious damage was observed east of there into the Willamette Valley at Corvallis. On some hillsides, nearly all the conifers appeared damaged, but that was not always the case.

Damage consisted of dead young branches on the southwest (to west and south) side of trees. For that reason, it was not obvious when driving west toward Newport but was easily seen when driving east. The great majority of the damaged conifers were Pseudotsuga menziesii (Douglas-Fir) because that is by far the most common conifer in the area, but damage was also seen on Thuja plicata (Western Red Cedar) and Tsuga heterophylla (Western Hemlock). Most deciduous trees appeared undamaged, although those Alnus rubra higher above waterways had lost upper leaves.

The surprising result of this survey is that the conifers in the eastern Coast Range lacked obvious heat damage, while those in the western Coast Range (except very close to the coast) were damaged.

Explanation of the table. Observations are sorted by species, then by location, west to east. The phrase "Heat damage" indicates that damage was photographed; if that phrase is lacking, heat damage was not observed. To visit an observation, insert the observation number (Obs_#) into the URL https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/88346965

Obs_# scientific_name tag latitude longitude
88333205 Picea sitchensis 44.63607995 -124.0328932
88333208 Pseudotsuga menziesii 44.63610385 -124.0323103
88333894 Pseudotsuga menziesii 44.63440526 -124.0187767
88333895 Pseudotsuga menziesii 44.63411399 -124.0183787
88334894 Pseudotsuga menziesii 44.63122203 -124.0063891
88334896 Pseudotsuga menziesii 44.6314221 -124.006172
88334899 Pseudotsuga menziesii 44.6315 -124.00662
88335502 Pseudotsuga menziesii 44.62938707 -123.9878988
88335503 Pseudotsuga menziesii 44.62832175 -123.985544
88335943 Pseudotsuga menziesii 44.62527 -123.98189
88335944 Pseudotsuga menziesii 44.62527 -123.98189
88336330 Pseudotsuga menziesii 44.62671 -123.9707
88336331 Pseudotsuga menziesii 44.62671 -123.9707
88336332 Pseudotsuga menziesii 44.62678233 -123.9706562
88338291 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.62923 -123.96184
88338293 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.630804 -123.9598403
88339124 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.629454 -123.9550403
88339125 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.629454 -123.9550403
88339127 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.629454 -123.9550403
88339131 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.629454 -123.9550403
88346964 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.6324318 -123.9474903
88346965 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.6324318 -123.9474903
88347712 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.64085 -123.934
88347713 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.64085 -123.934
88348966 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.644036 -123.9240517
88348969 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.644036 -123.9240517
88348974 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.643964 -123.9247132
88413571 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.646373 -123.9195653
88413572 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.646318 -123.9194544
88413574 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.6471 -123.91927
88413575 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.6471 -123.91927
88413577 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.6471 -123.91927
88414544 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.65177 -123.91726
88414545 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.65177 -123.91726
88414547 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.65177 -123.91726
88415632 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.6605 -123.9118093
88415633 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.660465 -123.9118093
88417488 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.6631685 -123.904519
88417489 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.6624695-123.9072625
88417490 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.66159 -123.90747
88419690 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.674892 -123.8909007
88419691 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.675017 -123.8900689
88419692 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.674863 -123.8897006
88420894 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.66827 -123.85067
88421558 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.66423 -123.84913
88421559 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.66423 -123.84913
88421560 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.66423 -123.84913
88422206 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.66106 -123.84942
88422207 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.66106 -123.84942
88422208 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.66106 -123.84942
88422773 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.65121 -123.83172
88422775 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.65121 -123.83172
88422777 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.65121 -123.83172
88422779 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.65121 -123.83172
88422784 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.65121 -123.83172
88487612 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.64798 -123.8219997
88487613 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.64798 -123.8219997
88487621 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.64798 -123.8219997
88487626 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.64797 -123.8221048
88488401 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.64373 -123.81301
88488402 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.64373 -123.81301
88490931 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.63969 -123.8013472
88490936 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.63969 -123.8013472
88490937 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.63969 -123.8013472
88490938 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.63969 -123.8013472
88490941 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.63937 -123.799139
88490942 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.63698 -123.8016364
88490943 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.63866 -123.7968973
88491807 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.62763 -123.76401
88551722 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.61745 -123.73053
88551724 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.61745 -123.73053
88551725 Pseudotsuga menziesii 44.61745 -123.73053
88551730 Pseudotsuga menziesii 44.61745 -123.73053
88552778 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.62075 -123.71294
88552779 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.62075 -123.71294
88552781 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.62075 -123.71294
88552784 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.62075 -123.71294
88553578 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.61874 -123.6836
88553581 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.61874 -123.6836
88553582 Pseudotsuga menziesii 44.61874 -123.6836
88553585 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.61874 -123.6836
88553587 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.61874 -123.6836
88554532 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.6202 -123.6492
88554533 Pseudotsuga menziesii 44.6202 -123.6492
88554534 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.6202 -123.6492
88554538 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.6202 -123.6492
88681198 Pseudotsuga menziesii 44.61614321 -123.6303367
88681200 Pseudotsuga menziesii 44.61478212 -123.6303738
88681994 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.60427 -123.6223094
88681995 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.60427 -123.6223094
88681996 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.60427 -123.6223094
88681997 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.60401 -123.6222084
88682483 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.60229 -123.609793
88682486 Pseudotsuga menziesii Heat damage 44.60229 -123.609793
88683531 Pseudotsuga menziesii 44.59507 -123.58834
88683532 Pseudotsuga menziesii 44.59507 -123.58834
88683533 Pseudotsuga menziesii 44.59507 -123.58834
88683535 Pseudotsuga menziesii 44.59507 -123.58834
88683536 Pseudotsuga menziesii 44.59507 -123.58834
88683537 Pseudotsuga menziesii 44.59507 -123.58834
88683540 Pseudotsuga menziesii 44.59507 -123.58834
88683543 Pseudotsuga menziesii 44.59507 -123.58834
88683545 Pseudotsuga menziesii 44.59507 -123.58834
88684345 Pseudotsuga menziesii 44.59970597 -123.5515906
88684346 Pseudotsuga menziesii 44.59970597 -123.5515906
88684347 Pseudotsuga menziesii 44.59970597 -123.5515906
88684352 Pseudotsuga menziesii 44.59970597 -123.5515906
88684353 Pseudotsuga menziesii 44.59970597 -123.5515906
88415631 Thuja plicata Heat damage 44.65981846 -123.9115014
88417493 Thuja plicata Heat damage 44.66159 -123.90747
88419696 Thuja plicata Heat damage 44.67441246 -123.8906934
88490933 Thuja plicata Heat damage 44.63969025 -123.8013472
88490946 Thuja plicata Heat damage 44.63969025 -123.8013472
88420887 Tsuga heterophylla Heat damage 44.66853046 -123.8478076
88420888 Tsuga heterophylla Heat damage 44.66853046 -123.8478076
88420890 Tsuga heterophylla Heat damage 44.66853046 -123.8478076
88420891 Tsuga heterophylla Heat damage 44.66853046 -123.8478076
88487614 Tsuga heterophylla Heat damage 44.64797541 -123.8219997
88487616 Tsuga heterophylla Heat damage 44.64797541 -123.8219997
88487618 Tsuga heterophylla Heat damage 44.64797541 -123.8219997
88487619 Tsuga heterophylla Heat damage 44.64797541 -123.8219997

Ingresado el 26 de julio de 2021 por sedgequeen sedgequeen | 1 observación | 5 comentarios | Deja un comentario

10 de julio de 2021

What is the Blackberry That Ate The Pacific Northwest?

It's a member of the European Blackberry Complex, which includes R. fruticosa, R. armeniaca, R. bifrons, R. ulmifolia, and others. There's a basic, biological problem with members of this complex. (This explanation is somewhat simplified.)

Most species reproduce sexually. A very common, widely used definition of the species is a group of organisms that breed with one another, producing fertile offspring. Even if they looks a bit different, they're the same species if they breed together. Consider variation within the species humans, or mallard ducks, or dogs, etc. We can tell where the species boundaries are by who breeds with whom (producing fertile offspring). Within sexually reproducing species, genes get mixed up, so you can have blonds with blue eyes, blonds with brown eyes, brunettes with brown eyes, brunettes with blue eyes, etc.

Some species don't have sex; they are asexual. Many of these reproduce by bulbs, rhizomes, or other obviously asexual means, but some plants are apomictic, producing seeds without sex. In asexual species, the genes don't get mixed up, so you might get only blue-eyed blondes and brown-eyed brunettes, no other combinations, for example. Mutations introduce some variation to asexual species. To accommodate that variation, we tend to use broad species concepts for completely asexual species, though not all biologists agree.

Members of the European Blackberry Complex reproduce in a way that really messes with our species concepts. They mostly set seed asexually. What seem to be distinct individuals are actually clones, and a single clone might cover a whole county or more. However, blackberries also have sex. They may have sex even with distantly related members of the complex. The offspring of such crosses can look a bit different from the blackberry clones that were already spreading around the area. Are these clonal populations best thought of as different species or just different genetic individuals? Should every slightly different type be called a species? (Some people would argue yes, which is why you have 2000 named dandelion species in Europe.) If not, how much difference is necessary to name a species? This really messes with biologists minds. We don't agree. We probably will never agree.

Meanwhile, the blackberries go their merry way, spreading asexually through their stems (canes), asexually through seeds, and occasionally through sexually produced seeds. They do not care about our human need for neat, mutually exclusive names for talking about the kinds of blackberries.

This is why when people disagree about the species concepts of Rubus bifrons, R. armeniacus, and R. ulmifolius, I Don't Care. Call it what you want. I'll try to follow the herd when/if there is evidence of agreement about what species names we will arbitrarily apply to these plants that don't have species concepts the way we wish they would.

Ingresado el 10 de julio de 2021 por sedgequeen sedgequeen | 6 comentarios | Deja un comentario

25 de mayo de 2021

FB page on learning how to ID plants!

You may be interested in this. It has some good graphics and other resources. Good to browse through, or search for a group of interest.


Ingresado el 25 de mayo de 2021 por sedgequeen sedgequeen | 1 comentario | Deja un comentario

23 de mayo de 2021

Something completely different: Personal Bioblitz 2021

Originally posted May 11, 2021:

Should I participate in iNaturalist's Personal Bioblitz next year? Maybe the cost of the many separate incidents isn't quite too high. My rib is apparently just bruised, not broken. My slightly swollen knee is a lot less painful than you'd think, looking at the extensive bruise. The Poison Oak rash is almost all dried up. True, my camera is in photographic intensive care, not expected to survive, but there is some hope. The computer doesn't have a virus. And the car is still drivable.

How did this all happen? Several different incidents, all involving trying to photo and post more organisms for the Personal Bioblitz 2021. I fell on rocks at the coast (twice) and in a salt marsh. Poison Oak, well, that's everywhere around Corvallis. My camera was broken by the fall on the salt marsh. The computer was overwhelmed by the large number of photos on top of 6 gigabytes of "temporary" internet files. I drove the car into a concrete ledge when picking up dinner at a fast food place during a plant photographing trip to southwest Oregon.


Ingresado el 23 de mayo de 2021 por sedgequeen sedgequeen | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

Statements to Paste into Observations as You Identify

Here are a few of the statements I keep to post into observations as I identify them. iNaturalist has some good statements written up. They can be found at https://www.inaturalist.org/pages/responses (Thanks @sambiology for that link!)

GENERAL NAMES: I put the general name "butterflies and moths" on your observation so that people who know them well can find it and perhaps give you a more precise name. (Obviously, substitute in Spiders or Birds or whatever, as appropriate.)

MULTIPLE SPECIES: You have posted photos of several species in this one observation. Please post these species separately, so each one can get its own name. Here’s a tutorial about how to do it: https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/how-to-fix-your-observation-with-photos-of-multiple-species/15096/ . Near the "Edit" button in the upper right corner of the observation you'll see a little arrow; click that and get a short list. Choose "Duplicate." Then delete the extra photo from each copy.

ROSES: This is a cultivated, hybrid rose. It has complicated ancestry and no scientific species name at the species level. For more information, please see je9h's discussion of hybrid roses and iNaturalist at: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/37151178. If you want to know the name of this rose cultivar, it's better to consult one of the websites or Facebook pages devoted to cultivated roses.

GEOPRIVACY: When you choose the geoprivacy setting "private," we identifiers don't even know what continent the observation is from. That can make identification difficult. If you want to keep the location hidden, please either change the geoprivacy setting to "obscured," which will smear the possible location out over a few square miles, or add a comment telling us the continent and general region where this organism was observed.

BLACKBERRIES along the Pacific Coast: This is either Rubus armeniacus or R. bifrons. The problem isn't plant identification -- this is the Blackberry That Ate the Pacific Northwest -- but taxonomic philosophy. If we consider the minor differences supposedly distinguishing R. armeniacus from R. bifrons to be trivial, these blackberries are all R. bifrons. If we consider them two different species, ours are R. armeniacus. People firmly disagree.

TAMARIX: Tamarisks introduced to North America are hybridizing themselves into one big interbreeding group. They are "despeciating" and Tamarix is really enough of an identification at this time.

RAPHANUS: Raphanus sativus and R. raphanistrum hybridize so extensively on the west coast that they are "despeciating" and are no longer two species, if they ever were.

EARTHWORMS. Maybe Lumbricus terrestris, maybe not. Identifying earthworms to species is really difficult. The best name for this observation is Lumbricidae, the earthworm family. Occasionally an earthworm specialist comes along along and identifies what he can.

BOUGAINVILLEA: Bougainvillea is a South American genus that contains 18 species. Many of the cultivated bougainvilleas are the result of crosses among just three of the species recognized by botanists: B. spectabilis, B. glabra, & B. peruviana. There are more than 300 culivars of Bougainvillea in the world. Because many of the hybrids have been crossed with other hybrids, it is difficult to identify their respective origins. In addition, similar natural mutations seem to have arisen in different parts of the world; this as resulted in many names for the same cultivar and has contributed to the confusion about the names of the hybrids within this genus. At this point, it is impossible to assign a valid scientific name or cultivar name to any given Bougainvillea. (fide Alexiz)

USNEA LONGISSIMA: This is not Usnea longissima, which consists of long, unbranched or rarely branched main cords with short side branches about perpendicular to the main cord. Unfortunately, the computer that gives identification suggestions labels most Usnea as U. longissima.

Ingresado el 23 de mayo de 2021 por sedgequeen sedgequeen | 1 comentario | Deja un comentario

Random Possibly Useful Ideas for Identifying

In no particular order . . . .

X. If you identify an observation, it automatically becomes "reviewed," which means you won't see it when identifying, unless you set the filters to search for observations you've reviewed. You can also mark observations as reviewed individually or page by page as you go through. This can be handy, for example if you're checking observations for one person or project or place and you want to see only new ones if you come back later. On the other hand, you may not care.

X. Develop a list of quite you often paste into comments, including explanations for common misidentifications. I'll write a journal post on some quotes I often use.

X. If you work on plants, especially if you use floras, you should get Harris & Harris's book Plant Identification Terminology. It's illustrated and thorough.

X. It is useful to join the iNaturalist projects Found Feathers and Galls of North America. Then you can add observations of feathers or galls to those projects. The people associated with them seem to provide identifications within a day or two.

To join a projects, click on the Community tab at the top of the page, then Projects. Write in the project name, get there, join. To add an observation to a project from "Identify," click on View, which will open the observation. On the right side is "Projects," which can bring up a list of your projects; click on the one you want to add the observation.

X. You know you should provide identifications at lower levels (e.g. genus if the plant is ID'd to family). You know confirming a species ID is good. Should you confirm a higher ID, like a family? I usually don't, because that means more identifications total are needed to get the observation to Research Grade. (RG require more than 2/3 of the observations to vote for the same name.) However, sometimes confirming a name can encourage the observer. Use your own judgement.

X. Sometimes you'll see an observation with half a dozen identifications, all agreeing, but it stays in "Needs ID" instead of going to "Research Grade." Why? The observer has opted out of community identification. There's nothing much you can do.

X. Another way to get observations out of "Needs ID" (without IDing it): Mark cultivated plants, pet animals, farm animals, and creatures in zoos as "Not Wild" or "Captive/cultivated." They become Casual. However, if you do that, they are less likely to get identified and the people who post them want names. So I say, mark them only if they have at least one identification at the species or genus level, or if the observation is old. (iNaturalist would disagree.)

X. Yet another way to get observations out of "Needs ID" (without IDing it): Under Quality Assessment, there's a question, "Based on the evidence, can the Community Taxon still be confirmed or improved?" If you mark it "No, it's as good as it can be" and at least one other person has ID'd it to that taxonomic level, it will go away. If it is ID'd at the genus level, it will become Research Grade. If it's ID'd to a higher level, it will become Casual. I recommend not doing this for recent observations, since somebody else may be able to ID it even if you can't. With older ones, though, you can be ruthless. I use it for cases where I know the necessary trait just isn't visible. Also for Empidonax flycathers or members of the Gray Tree Frog complex, which all look alike. And for the frustrating 10-pixel-wide bird on a wire that is so often posted.

What if you find an observation that has been dismissed like this but you disagree? Then answer the question "Based on the evidence, can the Community Taxon still be confirmed or improved?" as "Yes."

X. What if you have nothing to say about an observation but you want to know what it is? If you're working in "Identify," you can click "Follow" and any future identifications or comments will show up among your notifications.

X. Let's say you see an observation of a large hawk. First identification is Swainson's Hawk. You have reservations, so you type in "Buteo," its genus. A box will appear, giving you alternatives. The upper, green alternative means, "I know it's a Buteo but I can't say whether it's a Swainson's Hawk or not." The lower, orange or yellowish alternative means, "This is NOT a Swainson's Hawk. I know it's a Buteo but can't say which species of Buteo it is."

Ingresado el 23 de mayo de 2021 por sedgequeen sedgequeen | 3 comentarios | Deja un comentario

22 de mayo de 2021

Identifying "Unknown" Observations

The suggestion has been made for this ID-athon that we concentrate on "unknowns" from certain countries. Actually, you can identify anything you want, but if you are looking for something to work on, consider unknowns in Albania, Algeria, Armenia, Austria, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Botswana, Bulgaria, Chile, Croatia, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominican Republic, Eswatini, Fiji, Georgia, Greece, Guam, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Norway, Pakistan, Puerto Rico, Romania, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Vietnam, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

To get "unknown" observations to ID, start with "Identify" on the banner at the top of the page. Select the last of the little pictures, the one like a dotted leaf outline around a question mark. Wait a moment and the observations you want should appear.

Most "unknown" observations lack a name because the person posting them didn't post a name and nobody else has since. The problem is, an identifier who is good at, says, spiders isn't going to search through the millions of "needs ID" records looking for spider photos. If he searches on "spider" he'll find more than enough observations to fill up his time. When you identify unknowns, your job is to make the observation available to more specialized identifiers by narrowing down the identification somewhat. The identifying can go very fast. Green and leafy? Plant. Apparently a bird? Bird. And so forth. You can, of course, study the observation carefully to narrow it down further if you want. Maybe that bird observation can easily be labeled Perching Bird or Waterfowl, or even to species. Any name you can apply, from species to kingdom, is a help.

Not long ago, I labeled an unknown as "Spiders" and the observer was annoyed. He knew it was a spider, he wanted to know what KIND of spider. To head off this sort of protest, I often write, "I put the general name "butterflies and moths" on your observation so that people who know them well can find it and perhaps give you a more precise name." Obviously, I substitute "spiders" or "flowering plants" or whatever for "butterflies and moths," as appropriate.

An observation can get an "unknown" rank, or more specifically a "state of matter, Life" rank, if two suggested names belong to different kingdoms. For example, earlier this summer I posted some coastal organisms are Brown Algae, but somebody else named them as Red Algae. They spent time as "Life" until I withdrew my identification. If you can "vote" for one of the names, do. Otherwise, move on.

Some unknowns are probably impossible to ID, even to kingdom. Is that scum bacterial or fungal? I have no idea. Is that plant disease caused by a virus or a fungus? Clueless. If you know it, name it; otherwise, move on.

One odd problem with identification of unknowns is that some serious iNatters upload a whole bunch of observations without identifications and then add names over the next day or two. They tend to get testy if you add names, especially if they're names above the species level. So if you see many very recent "Unknowns" by an observer who already has many observations, skip them. One way to minimize these interactions is to go to click on Identify, then on Filters, and set the Sort By to "Random." Then you'll get old and new posts mixed and probably won't deal with more than one or two of the unknowns that were posted this way. Or choose a range of dates with the most recent a month or two ago.

Ingresado el 22 de mayo de 2021 por sedgequeen sedgequeen | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

Confidence and Error in Identifying iNaturalist Observations

You should be confident in the name you suggest for an iNaturalist observation. Is 100% certainty necessary? No. Do you feel you could say to a friend, "I think it's a such and such"? Then apply that name. If you can keep your error rate below 5%, you're doing well. Of course there's the problem of how you'd know your error rate, but anyway . . . . If you're somewhat less sure, apply the name but comment, "Maybe," or "It seems to be in this genus, but I'm not sure about the species," or "Tentative identification." If you're significantly unsure, name it to a higher level, genus instead of species, or family instead of genus, etc.

You will make mistakes. Even if you know what you mean, you will make mistakes. I recently labeled a large waterfowl as Canada Gooseberry and a common hybrid seagull of the Seattle area as an Olympic Grasshopper. After visiting Alder Creek Falls, I posted photos of a fly and labeled it Alder. Sigh.

Those mistakes are just silly, but I've made more substantial errors, confusing species of periwinkle (Vinca) and oaks, for example. People corrected me. For a while I didn't identify periwinkles, though now I have learned. I learned about the problem pair of oaks, too. (Note: Most oaks are bigger problems and I don't even begin to try on them.) I can't seem to get Sharp-shinned and Cooper's Hawk straight, though, and now I leave them to people who know them better, or at least exhibit more confidence than I have. I can't distinguish sawfly larvae from butterfly / moth caterpillars either, but I continue to identify them as Lepidoptera, consoling myself that I'm giving the people who correct me a pleasant moment of superiority; we all need such moments.

What to do when someone suggests a different name than yours? First, evaluate the new name. Is it accurate? Were you accurate? If you figure you're wrong (or if you're just too tired to cope with it right now) withdraw the name you suggested. Use the little downward carat at the upper right of your name to expose the "withdraw" option. If you're convinced the other name is correct, agree with it. If you want, write something like, "Oops!" or "You're right," or "Of course; I should have realized that!" or "I'm sorry." (Apologies are the oil of social machinery; you don't have to be especially sorry to offer one.) If you're not sure, or if you want to avoid the problem in the future, ask how the other identifier made his decision. You and/or he may learn something.

What if you decide you're right? Explain why you think you're right. Remember to be polite. This isn't a battle. Treat this as a friendly talk between two people working together.

Most important, don't let mistakes or worry about making mistakes stop you. iNaturalist has literally millions of unidentified photos. As long as you're making more correct identifications than not, you're providing a useful service.

Ingresado el 22 de mayo de 2021 por sedgequeen sedgequeen | 2 comentarios | Deja un comentario