Archivos de diario de septiembre 2023

13 de septiembre de 2023

Why I strongly object to iNaturalist listing Urtica dioica gracilis as "Urtica gracilis", then designating native Urtica dioica as "Introduced" in North America

The labeling of our native Stinging Nettles – Urtica dioica as “introduced” has really made me upset, but earlier I very inappropriately vented my anger in this forum on a previous version of this post. Another mistake I've since learned from! My apologies! Here is a shorter, and sweeter version:

In early 2022 an iNaturalist curator replaced Urtica dioica gracilis with Urtica gracilis, following a newer taxonomy of POWO – London's Kew Gardens' Plants of the World Online, which followed the taxonomy changes proposed in a 2014 paper “Weeding the Nettles II”, which one of the Kew Gardens taxonomists co-wrote. iNaturalist regularly follows the taxonomy of POWO, even when it isn't widely agreed upon by world univeristies. iNaturalist then designated Urtica dioica as an introduced species in North America. POWO and iNaturalist now are using the full species name “Urtica gracilis” for what what most American universities still call “Urtica dioica gracilis". These universities use "Urtica dioica dioica" for the Eurasian taxon. In calling the North American native taxon “Urtica gracilis”, and in calling “Urtica dioica” with no subspecies designation “introduced” in North America, iNaturalist is what iNaturalist calls a “maverick”.

I strongly oppose this taxonomy change for multiple reasons. The first is that the new taxon name achieves nothing. We already had the taxon name “Urtica dioica gracilis” for that taxon, native to North America, and we already had the taxon name “Urtica dioica dioica” for the Eurasian taxon, that iNaturalist is now just calling “Urtica dioica”. The constant changing of taxon names comes at a great cost, in that it undermines the purpose of scientific names, to have one name for each taxon that everyone in the world can use. We now have different people using different scientific names for this taxon, either because they are following a different taxonomic authority, because they didn't agree with the new name, hadn't learned the new name, or didn't know the old name. It also adds to the cost of what has become constant work updating names of taxa, or adding synonyms to taxon names, and finding all of the records for one taxon under multiple names.

The second reason I strongly oppose this taxonomy change is that it has come together with the labeling of Urtica dioica as an introduced species in North America, while both older records of the native taxon continue to go under “Urtica dioica”, and newer observations of the native taxon continue to be identified as "Urtica dioica". These identifications of newer observations of the native taxon as "Urtica dioica" come from observers and identifiers, that either don't know the latest proposed taxonomy change, or following the taxonomy of most North American universities, don't agree with it.

While there are a small number of records of the European taxon, Urtica dioica dioica, in North America, the vast majority of records of Urtica dioica that indicate race, in at least my Pacific Northwest of North America, are for one of two native taxa, Urtica dioica gracilis, or U. dioica holosericea. Of 1337 records of Urtica dioica displayed by CPNWH – the Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria they have only 31 North American records of the non-native Urtica dioica dioica.

I particularly object to the labeling of most Stinging Nettle records in North America because, as a long time advocate for protecting, and planting, native butterfly host (caterpillar food) plants, Stinging Nettle has been at the top of my list of plants that need to be protected, and planted, but labeling them “introduced” would have many people eradicating it, and not planting it. Of the approximate 20 species of butterflies that we may find in my city of Seattle, 5 use Stinging Nettle as a host plant, and for 3 of those 5 it is an obligate host plant, them being unable to lay their eggs on any other species. Two of these 5 species occur throughout North America, and throughout the Northern Hemisphere, and additional butterfly species in North America (and in Eurasia) use Stinging Nettle as either an obligate host plant, or facultative host plant, that is they are able to lay their eggs on other plant species also. The Red Admiral, the species found through most of the Northern Hemisphere, that only lays its eggs here on Stinging Nettle - Urtica dioica.

My initial reaction to iNaturalist labelling our native Stinging Nettles, that have long gone under the name “Urtica dioica”, and continue to go by that name, was to make all of my identifications of North American Stinging Nettles, as “Urtica gracilis”, both so these native plants wouldn't be treated as introduced species, and because I thought I was just following new, current taxonomy, but I later realized that was problematic. First, I couldn't change all 23,000 pre-existing Stinging Nettle observations in North America to “Urtica gracilis”, and that new observations of North American native Stinging Nettles would continue to go under “Urtica dioica”, and that my calling them “Urtica gracilis” effectively supported the taxonomy change that led to North American native Stinging Nettles being called “introduced”.

The people making the name change may not have fully weighed the disadvantages of the name change against any advantage of having taxonomy that they may have thought slightly more accurate.

Publicado el 13 de septiembre de 2023 00:54 por stewartwechsler stewartwechsler | 17 comentarios | Deja un comentario