stephenmid's picture

Latin Names on Ispot

I queried some latin names with Ispot admin and received back an email saying that I should use from the National History Museum and the "Get Recommended Button".

The comment was - Within the iSpot context I would recommend that you use the "Get recommended" button whenever possible. This may not produce the absolute latest name, but it will enable the best chance of linking to other observations of the same species on ISpot (and on the NBN Gateway maps if you use those). -

However, they stated that the latest names are according to Stace on the BSBI website.

They also suggested posting a discussion on the forum - here it is!

I used the "Get Recommended" option and promptly had my latin name changed.

I would like to know what should be the policy on the latin name to use on ISpot so that I don't get the names corrected.



miked's picture

I might be wrong but I think

I might be wrong but I think you can still put the latin name you need and if you don't click the 'get recommended' button then it stays.

Why are you wanting to put a name different from the one shown in the 'get recommended' list. I know the list is not perfect, I think there are a small number of errors (there may be more in some groups than others), but it is very useful for matching up observations of the same species and for putting species in the relevant group. If a more up to date name is generally agreed then it might be possible to apply it to all observations of that species rather than just when the observers do it manually.

I have put on many hundreds of observations across all groups of organisms and within these found its very rare to have an issue with the recommended names, one or two old names, a small handful of alternatives and one completely wrong as far as I recall.

stephenmid's picture

Get Recommended


I DID use "Get recommended". My comment was that after using this, I had a new name posted by someone else saying that this was a more up-to-date name.


I posted Lesser Celandine (Ranunculus ficaria) then someone else posted Lesser Celandine (Ficaria verna)

This was a more recent name, but not the "recommended" one.


miked's picture

Sorry I did not understand

Sorry I did not understand the situation properly first time round.
It is obviously something we'll have to keep an eye on as it could become annoying if it happens anything other than rarely. It is a huge task to keep the names fully up to date across all taxa so there are bound to be some delays but hopefully not too many.

stephenmid's picture

Proper Plant Names

I have found a good database on plant names it seems to be really quite extensive.


AlanS's picture

Authoritative sources

So THAT'S what the 'Get Recommended' button is for! It genuinely had me baffled and with all this business of reputations, I thought it had something to do with that! (I tried clicking on it and nothing happened, but there again I had not filled in a scientific name)

Names used on the NBN are currently not up to date - at least not for flowering plants and not for lichens. Also, while is a brilliant resource, it too is not up to date and in places simply wrong (even allowing for differing opinion), and it admits that many entries are provisional.

For flowering plants I think Stace ed. 3 should normally be the standard, but we should also not forget the steady appearance of the 5 volumes of Sell & Murrell, which has much that is not in Stace.

It is reasonable to assume that the NBN will eventually follow Stace 3, and for lichens it will eventually follow the new and authoritative 'The lichens of Great Britain and Ireland'. So, to use the cited example, I suggest it is better to use 'Ficaria verna' than 'Ranunculus ficaria'. Even though the NBN uses 'Ranunculus ficaria' at this moment, it will undoubtedly change to 'Ficaria verna' in the fullness of time. This is a good example, as the "name change" (in a British context) is a stable one, very unlikely to change back. In Europe, 'Ficaria verna' has been in use for years.

The problem is that other changes may revert back in future times. Even when we are told that a name change is "based on DNA studies", the interpretation of those studies could, and undoubtedly will, be argued in different ways. I, for one, am NOT yet convinced that Twayblades have to be in the same genus as the Bird's-nest Orchid!

For British flowering plants, Stace 3 has taken account of the major changes in classification that have taken place in the past few years and will undoubtedly be the standard for some time to come. It doesn't make much sense to me not to follow it.

But if someone uses an older name and somebody else posts an updated alternative, does it really matter?

It would no doubt be helpful, where name has changed and the up to date name is used, if people also use the notes section to include the older synonym.

Alan Silverside

Chalkie's picture

Very sensible!

That all sounds highly sane, especially the bit about using the notes section if using an updated synonym. I can see why the original poster got annoyed with the system - when you know you've followed instructions carefully and then someone tells you you got it wrong, it's annoying!
By the way, I loved the idea of an expert clicking on 'get recommended' and not being able to work out what it was for - he he! I can't identify many lichens, or any Euphrasias (yet!), but when I tried 'get recommended' It did confuse me to start with though - maybe 'check name' would be less confusing?

anonymous spotter's picture

The whole business -

of systematic names is a bit troublesome.
As well as occasional errors in the iSPot database - which I'm sure exist - there is the problem of non-automated ones where the person has typed in a name rather than using the automated system. It is so easy to mis-spell words using a PC, and easy to miss when the language is unfamiliar.
I regularly look at a picture, decide that I agree with an identification, and click on "I agree". I never think to check the systematic name, unless it stands out as one of the few I know well (and so many have changed!), so I may well be compounding an error.
Maybe we need a flag to show if the systematic name was automatically completed or not?

nick_the_grief's picture


Taxonomist's change their mind more often than their underwear :-) It's OK if you're a professional but when you're an amateur it's a nightmare

Exhibit 1 & 2 m'lud ... the Genus Ferocactus, Weingartia and Sulcorebutia in cacti

North Warwickshire

Mike Kendall's picture

The reverse problem

Many species, particularly the smaller and rarer ones, have no English name. As non specialists have been increasingly using biodiversity databases some specialists have found that they have to invent a new English name for them. Not surprisingly, the invented name comes as a surprise to those who have been happily using the scientific name for years; it goes in one ear and out of the other.

Mike Kendall

Refugee's picture


It would be to wait until a server is being upgraded and recycle the processor unit and install a matrix of latin names that link to all past ones onto it. Then link it to the main site through a port that displays a message if it fails to work for any reason. No risk of the site going down! It is simple enough that it can have virus protection built in without expensive third party software. The task of entering all the data would be unforgiving however the computing power requirement would be very small so an old processor unit would do just fine.