Pulmonata and Opisthobranchia... and WoRMS

Hi Mollusk Curators/Taxonomy Experts,

We've been called upon to make a group decision! :-O

As curators, our standing orders for iNaturalist mollusk curation are to "follow WoRMS." So today in the interests of keeping iNat tidy, I took a look -- and I noticed that WoRMS has changed the taxonomy for Opisthobranchia and Pulmonata, which are no longer accepted concepts.

So OK, that means it is time to update iNat to align it with WoRMS, right? Or maybe not? Ken-ichi has asked me to ask you what WE want to do, since this is above Order level (and thus off limits to humble curators), and would require some iNat resources to sort out all the observations. How much resources? Well, as of this minute we have 38,000 Opisthobranchia observations (of which 33,000 are Nudibranchs). That's somewhere between Buteos (hawks) at ~34,000 and Larinae (gulls) at ~43,000. So not huge by other Life standards, but according to Ken-ichi, still some processing time as well as the human time would be involved.

The task: We'd have to start with subclass Heterobranchia - still accepted, and 88,000 observations on iNat - and work down, aligning everything with WoRMS. But even the first step seems to get messy, at least to my uneducated eye; take a look at WoRMS and there's terms like 'unassigned' and 'Lower Heterobranchia' -- ?? http://www.marinespecies.org/aphia.php?p=taxdetails&id=14712 And so it goes, on down to our more familiar Nudibranchia-level territory.

Now, not being a trained biologist myself, I'm opinionless - but willing to compile your replies into a document that iNat can either 1) act upon as per WoRMS; or 2) do a few tweaks; or 3) do nothing, and at least have an expert opinion/reason or two for doing so until something else changes in the future.

And of course, at least we'll all know what's going on.

So -- please reply! And thank you for your time!

In no particular order, and feel please free to forward to other curators/experts: @kueda @mcduck @tgosliner @jeffgoddard @bernardpicton @jpsilva @v_s_ @lemurdillo @allisonjgong @rebeccafay @kestrel @susanhewitt @pliffgrieff @sluglust @maractwin @erwinkoehler @johnturnbull

Publicado por anudibranchmom anudibranchmom, 12 de abril de 2018


I don’t know when i became a curator, but i find WoRMs a usefull tool. And there needs to be a standard that we can follow. I’m not a biologist, so i need something to follow, or else there will be anarchy 😬.
So just follow WoRMs, that’s my humble opinion.

Publicado por v_s_ hace más de 3 años (Marca)

Mollusca is a very major phylum of invertebrate animals with at least 100,000 named species and probably another 100,000 unnamed ones. The class Gastropoda is second only to the class Insecta in terms of number of named species -- it's vast, and a few of the other classes of mollusks are fairly voluminous too.

And yes, I believe that we have to follow WoRMS, aka MolluscaBase.

Because of insights from molecular work, there has been a great deal of major revising within the taxonomy of the Mollusca over the last 20 years, including at the very high levels, and there will continue to be a lot more revising over the next 20 years, so I think there is no point in trying to do something like "wait until the taxonomy stabilizes".

I don't know how well our database will be able to handle things like "unassigned" and "Lower Heterobranchia".

@cedric_lee -- do you have anything you want to say?

@jfk -- any comments?

Publicado por susanhewitt hace más de 3 años (Marca)

The question bering posed has several aspects to it. One is should we use Opisthobranchia and Pulmonata and the second is whether to rely on WoRMS for names. The answer to the first question is actually the more complex of the two. I think the problem is that the people who have generated new phylogenies have chosen to introduce new names such as Euopisthobranchia and Panpulmonata rather than changing the taxa included in Opisthobranchia and Pulmonata based on new phylogenetic evidence. This is unfortunate as it just creates more confusion and instability. Unfortunately, the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature has no rules for names above the Family level. This means it is a free for all. What we do know is that the traditional Opisthobranchia with nudibranchs included in Opisthobranchja is not monophyletic. I think we should abandon Opisthobranchia at this point and foillow WoRMS. I would still use Pulmonata, however, since it is monophyletic.
Following WoRMS for other names is tremendously problematic. For example, a couple of years ago, was listed as a synonym of another previously described speceis. This was done in an unrefereed checklist, without any explanation of the rationale for making that change and the change was incorporated in WoRMS. As it turns out the species we described has a very distinctive radula and the one with which it was synonymized was described as entirely lacking a radula. It is clear they can't be the same thing. The problem, is there is no quality control on WoRMS and it is whatever is the most recently published gets incorporated into WoRMS. This is far more common than most people realize. I thinjk we should use WoRMS for the most part, but there need to be overrides to correct this kind of mistake. It seems like there is more and more stuff that is very arbitrary that is getting incorporated into WoRMS. I have asked the mollusk editor of WoRMS to correct many of these errors and there is a responsiveness in doing so, but this takes time. In other instances, such as changing the genera in the Fionidae and Flabellinidae it will require publishing a new paper to change the taxonomy and this literally requires a couple of years. This is a huge problem in taxonomy. Last published is not necessarily the best rule to follow. It is a a lousy system, but in reality, there is no other resource to arbitrate the4se taxonomic changes that are made based on little or no evidence.

Publicado por tgosliner hace más de 3 años (Marca)

If it helps this discussion, for comparison and an idea of the scope of the proposed changes, right now iNaturalist looks like this between Heterobranchs and Nudibranchs:

Heterobranchs (Subclass Heterobranchia with 8 Superfamilies, 3 Families, and 2 Infraclasses directly under it)
- Acteonoidea (Superfamily)
- Architectonicoidea (Superfamily)
- Cimidae (Family)
- Mathildoidea (Superfamily)
- Murchisonelloidea (Superfamily)
- Omalogyroidea (Superfamily)
- Orbitestellidae (Family)
- Pulmonata (Infraclass)
- Pyramidelloidea (Superfamily)
- Rissoelloidea (Superfamily)
- Tjaernoeiidae (Family)
- Valvatoidea (Superfamily)
- Opisthobranchia (Infraclass with 9 Orders under it)
-- Acochlidiacea
-- Anaspidea
-- Cephalaspidea
-- Gymnosomata
-- Pleurobranchomorpha
-- Sacoglossa
-- Thecosomata
-- Umbraculida
-- Nudibranchia

And WoRMS looks like:

Heterobranchia (Subclass with 3 Infraclasses under it)
- "Lower Heterobranchia" (Infraclass)
- [unassigned] Heterobranchia (Infraclass)
- Euthyneura (Infraclass - with 3 Subterclasses and 1 Superorder under it)
-- Acteonimorpha (Subterclass)
-- Tectipleura (Subterclass)
-- [unassigned] Euthyneura (Superorder)
-- Ringipleura (Subterclass - with 2 superorders under it)
--- Ringiculimorpha (Superorder)
--- Nudipleura (Superorder - with 3 Orders and 2 Genera under it)
---- Pleurobranchida (Order)
---- Notaspidea accepted as Pleurobranchomorpha accepted as Pleurobranchida (Order)
---- Spongiodoris Pruvot-Fol, 1933 (Genus)
---- Abranchus [sic] accepted as Abrancha Hasselt, 1824 (misspelling) (Genus)
---- Nudibranchia (Order)

Publicado por anudibranchmom hace más de 3 años (Marca)

Well, the Comments format deleted all my indentation. But hopefully you can follow it anyway.

Publicado por anudibranchmom hace más de 3 años (Marca)

Any more updates on this thread? I notice the curator guide https://www.inaturalist.org/pages/curator+guide#policies says "MolluscaBase as a global reference based on WoRMs but expanded to include terrestrial species" so I assumed thats what we're using. I'm happy to help curate things in that direction but I stumbled upon this thread and would like to make sure folks are on board with that

Publicado por loarie hace alrededor de 3 años (Marca)

@loarie Thanks for checking in on this - I think the general consensus was to continue to follow WoRMS, recognizing 1) its flaws and 2) that we're largely following it because there isn't a better alternative that addresses the points @tgosliner made above. That said, I haven't heard of a decision/plan regarding the Order-and-above changes I raised in the original question.

Publicado por anudibranchmom hace alrededor de 3 años (Marca)

looks like the major 'order and above' funk is prominent use of the rank 'Subterclass' inbetween Infraclass and Superorder which is a rank iNat doesn't currently support but could. Also 'Infraclass "Lower Heterobranchia"' would display as 'Infraclass Lower heterobranchia'.

Pulmonata and Opisthobranchia are the only 'observose' nodes that would have to be dealt with. Though its not ideal, probably the best thing to do would be to swap them with the common ancestors of everything they once contented in the new taxonomy e.g. roll them respectively to:
Infraclass Pulmonata => Subterclass Tectipleura
Infraclass Opisthobranchia => Infraclass Euthyneura

So things to consider would be:
1) add rank Subterclass
2) deal with Infraclass Lower heterobranchia being rendered sort of funky like that
3) swap Infraclass Pulmonata => Subterclass Tectipleura
4) swap Infraclass Opisthobranchia => Infraclass Euthyneura
5) various other curation of the base of the tree involving creating new taxa and swapping existing taxa


Publicado por loarie hace alrededor de 3 años (Marca)

also looping in @bobby23 who sorted out Cephalopods according to WoRMs https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/inaturalist-cephalopod-working-group

Publicado por loarie hace alrededor de 3 años (Marca)

Thanks for looping me in. Here are my 2¢:

Adherence to our cited authorities is incredibly important for both casual divers and marine biologists who may want to use our site. Some people may disregard iNaturalist if it doesn’t look like we take taxonomic management seriously (not that we don’t – we absolutely do – but I can see some people making that assumption). I’m in favor of us adhering to WoRMS.
However, I agree with @tgosliner in that we shouldn’t do so blindly. Dismantling Pulmonata seems like a superfluous change. Maybe we should contact the authors of the cited literature before proceeding to understand why they made some of the name changes they did.
[unassigned] Heterobranchia could probably be implemented on iNaturalist as “Infraclass Heterobranchia incertae sedis”, but I don’t even think we’ll have to since all of its descendants on WoRMS are extinct taxa.
The format of the name “Lower Heterobranchia” shouldn’t be a problem, but if it is, some taxonomists favor the name “Allogastropoda”, which we could use in its place. However, this name is completely absent on WoRMS, even as a synonym. I think we should contact WoRMS to understand why it prefers one name over another for context.

Publicado por bobby23 hace alrededor de 3 años (Marca)

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