Publishing new records without voucher specimens?

Curious... I was looking through the relatively recent papers that use iNaturalist data (, and I'm wondering if anyone has published a paper on a state/county/country record based JUST on iNaturalist observations... I think most publications use physical vouchers as well as photovouchers, but I'm not sure if there's been one with JUST photovouchers. Anyone know?

Traditionally with plants and bugs, I think a physical voucher is usually required for publication... I guess it would depend on the journal, but I'm not finding any papers that use solely photovouchers.

Would love any input! :)

Publicado el julio 3, 2020 12:15 MAÑANA por sambiology sambiology


Not that I know about. FWIW in my pre-iNat days this paper included a few photovouchers for rare or incidental taxa using SEINet's General Research Observations feature (e.g., here and here).

Publicado por stevejones hace casi 4 años

I'm sure I have a few dozen county records with photographs only, but it's never occurred to me to publish new county records. More noteworthy, usually, are the county deletions... my experience in the taxa I've looked through in detail is that species erroneously reported in counties where they are absent are far more frequent than species occurring in counties where they have not been reported.

Publicado por aspidoscelis hace casi 4 años

Hi Sam, thanks for tagging.

This paper is from the pre-iNat era, but it reports some records (first level administrative unit, i.e. equalling "state") based on photovouchers published in Plantarium. We tried to confirm by a specimen as much records as possible, but this was not always achievable.

I think, photovouchers should not be neglected anyway.

Publicado por apseregin hace casi 4 años

I don't know of any research that meets Sam's specific iNat-only documentation constraint. My frustration is building with those researchers who have recently published monographs and treatises still ignoring modern photovouchers as supplemental distributional data. There is a very recent example with moths: A brand new and controversial revision of the Tortricid genus Paralobesia (Royals et al. 2019. Mem. Lep. Soc. No. 6) shows the "easily recognizable" species P. cyclopiana ranging no further west than Louisiana, yet @stuartmarcus uploaded a beautiful example of the species from Liberty Co., TX, in June 2017, two years prior to the publication. (The species has actually been on the Texas checklist for at least a decade, probably based on specimen records of Knudson & Bordelon or other earlier researchers.) At some point, I am hoping that future generations of taxonomists and systematists will avail themselves of useful and readily available natural history data beyond just what they find in museum cases and DNA testing of cold, dead specimens.

Publicado por gcwarbler hace casi 4 años

I'm going to try it in some of my Anisophyllum papers in hopes that they'll make it past peer review. There are some inherent problems with citing iNaturalist observations (possibility of deletion, random change all primarily due to ownership remaining with the observer, and the format being extremely young by curatorial standards), but it is an extremely rich data source to be sure.

Publicado por nathantaylor hace casi 4 años

Yeah not sure about publishing requirements but we print and store photo records physically in the cabinets for things that can't be collected, usually because their rarity.

Publicado por bouteloua hace casi 4 años

On the positive side, I've had two requests in recent weeks for use of my images of a couple of plants in monographic treatments of certain genera (Aristolochia in Texas and Lamourouxia in Mexico). So iNaturalist is clearly becoming a source for imagery in select cases.

Publicado por gcwarbler hace casi 4 años

Thanks Chuck for tagging me. Not sure if this fits the discussion, but Peter Van Zandt used some photos of mine for his publication showing moths that nectar feed as a source of pollination. Something he couldn't get from voucher specimens. I also know of of some USDA entomologists using iNat photos to document exotic moths species (and other insects) spreading their known ranges which could lead to crop damages. These databases are ahead of the curve!

Publicado por stuartmarcus hace casi 4 años

I think we have a new species of Allium in New Mexico & Arizona for which iNaturalist observations are important, come to think of it. It's fairly common and conspicuous, and we have hundreds of collections of this thing going back to the 1880s. However, while it's pretty obviously distinct and easy to identify in live specimens or photographs, it's rather obscure in herbarium material. I'd been thinking to myself for more than a decade that it didn't make sense to be calling all these plants the same species. Another botanist, Rich Spellenberg, emailed me with some of the same thoughts. Having iNaturalist handy meant it went very quickly from a vague suspicion hanging out in the back of my mind to confirming that it's not just something funny going on with a few plants that I've seen or photographed, but a consistently distinct and easily identifiable plant. There are enough observations to get a pretty good idea of its geographic distribution, too.

I'll need to look through many herbarium specimens to solidify my understanding once things are a bit closer to normal, of course, and I might still find out that I'm on the wrong track. If this does move forward to publication, though, it would be a case where a large set of herbarium specimens clearly has not been the right kind of information for us to understand what's going on, while a large set of photographs brings the situation to light.

Publicado por aspidoscelis hace casi 4 años

Big time thanks for all of the comments here. Definitely useful and illuminating. :)

Publicado por sambiology hace casi 4 años

I want to add my thanks to all of you who replied to this topic. We have submitted a paper to JBRIT for a new state record for Texas (of a nonnative, cool-season annual plant) based on iNaturalist observations, although we plan to make vouchers in a month or two. The excellent images from the three recent TX observations of our distinctive taxon allowed an expert to confirm the determination rapidly and remotely, in a year when all other methods would have been more cumbersome than ever. Once the ms. passes review we will add the citation to the forum linked in SamBiology's OP.

Publicado por aneill hace más de 3 años

My latest paper on moths of the genus Petrophila was just accepted for publication in the Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society and should appear in an issue in 2021. In that work, I describe an iNat observation of Petrophila fulicalis as follows: "A single observation west of Ciudad Acuña, northern Coahuila, in September 2014 represents a first record for Mexico (Juan Cruzado C., on iNaturalist)." I toyed with the idea of using the word "report" instead of "record", but I finally decided to use the latter. By the way, the relevant observation by @juancruzado is here:

Publicado por gcwarbler hace más de 3 años

I have some publications of all the groups of terrestrial vertebrates:

J. Cruzado y M. Salinas. 2016. Primeros registros del tlacuache cuatro ojos (Philander opossum) en el estado de Nuevo León. Revista Mexicana de Mastozoología, Nueva Serie 6(1): 29-32.

Elí García-Padilla, Juan Cruzado-Cortés, Emiliano Méndez-Salinas, Vicente Mata-Silva, Jerry D. Johnson, and Larry David Wilson. 2016. Distribution notes of Trachycephalus typhonius (Linnaeus, 1758). Mesoamerican herpetology. 3(3): 761.

Gómez de Silva, H. M. Perez-Villafaña, J. Cruz-Nieto, J. Cruzado-Cortés, R. Hamilton, S. Vasquez y M.A. Cruz-Nieto. 2017. Review of the avifauna of Tres Marias Islands, Mexico, Including new and noteworthy records. Western Birds 48(1): 2-25.

Sánchez-García, J. C., L. Canseco-Márquez, C. J. Pavón-Vázquez, J. Cruzado-Cortés, U. O. García-Vázquez (2019). New records and morphological variation of Rhadinaea marcellae Taylor, 1949 (Squamata, Colubridae) from Sierra Madre Oriental, México. Check List 15 (5): 729–733.

Publicado por juancruzado hace más de 3 años

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