WestChowles's picture


Observed: 7th March 2012 By: WestChowles
Species interactions

No interactions present.


WestChowles's picture

I spotted this little

I spotted this little creature in the late afternoon just before sunset on the Clovelly side of Fish Hoek beach. I have never seen anything like it before and my interest attracted many other beach walkers who became equally fascinated!

As no-one could identify it someone suggested I post my picture on "ispot".

I look forward to get some feedback!

WestChowles's picture

does anyone know what the

does anyone know what the little creature in my picture is? I think it could be a kind of water snail but have never seen anything like this before!

Masked Marvel's picture

Move to invertebrates

I'm not sure what it is but it's not an amphibian or reptile. I suggest you move the observation to the invertebrate section using the edit tab at the top of the page.

Mark at Magdalen's picture

Sorry - too use to adding the

Sorry - too use to adding the Latin (or common name) then clinking "Get Recommendation", forgot to assign a group.

markwilson's picture


An amazing animal


Tony Rebelo's picture

If people will I agree to the

If people will I agree to the 3rd ID you will see lots of examples!

dejayM's picture


Tony. Can you explain why your ID is 'better' than Graham's please?

Tony Rebelo's picture

It is not better

It is the Elephant Bug.

Grahams is linked to CoL and therefore does not show up in the southern African records.
Mine links to SANBI and thus shows up in the southern African searches based on taxonomy.

Ideally this should be immaterial. But universal is not the way iSpot is configured. And as a southern African record this is the only way to show it with the other southern African data.

If you dont like it go complain to the iSpot programmers.

dejayM's picture

all for one?

OK, thanks. I had more or less guessed that. Thanks. It's been my belief that the original post is 'locked' to the host Community Dictionary. So are you (as curator) able to swap dictionaries?
It's not that I don't like it but it reinforces my original suggestion that we should have some control over which dictionary to invoke when offering an ID, particularly when the species is not in one but is in another. And then there was my other suggestion that all the Dictionaries should be amalgamated. You need not respond to that (you have already)!
I have successfully offered IDs to ZA posts before but I think I was registered in ZA at the time. I now rarely feel the need to log into the ZA Community because the posts are accessible via Global.
I agree that the SANBI should be used in this case and I assume that Graham could only access the CoL as he was working in Global. It's a rare case.
I have just noticed that this was posted in 2012 - LONG before even Global was separated from UKiSpot (sometime in 2013?).
So was it posted in UKiSpot Tony? Can you tell?

Cassine's picture

Anybody can swop

dictionaries by adding a new ID (once the locality is correct for the community). The other possibility and perhaps the only workable way is that the Global community has a Global Dictionary based on UKSI, COL and SANBI. The SANBI Dictionary for plants is very comprehensive for most of Africa and surrounds as it is used to print labels for the National Herbarium in Pretoria specimens. Robert

dejayM's picture


Robert yes thanks. I have really tried that a few times - it doesn't work for me. Any attempt to use the Drop Down ONLY invokes the Dic. used in the original ID or that which suits the location (there are a few current posts with that problem). But that's probably fair and is the case in this post.
I don't think there was a separate Global post in 2012 - they were separated to appease complaints from those who ONLY wanted to see UKSI dictionary posts. Some people still find that preferable but, of course, it's easy now.
Your "...perhaps the only workable way is....." sounds useful, as it is common to find a species missing from one Dic. but present in anther.
I've used a trick in my day (not entirely removed from this) http://www.ispotnature.org/node/434476 was posted from UKSI and I then edited the Location to France. So a 'holiday' post with a UKSI dictionary ID. I did this to get into Other Obs. and it worked. It was done in the few months when ALL my posts went Global.
Here, I am (was) only really interested in how Tony achieved the swap from one Dictionary to another. The first two IDs are still CoL, his is SANBI. Clever and not fair!!
Thanks again
ðerek UK

Cassine's picture

Have you tried to add a new

ID for the Salamander? *In theory*, it should have a new ID in COL. There should not be any Salamanders in UKSI. Your editing the locality as UK and then making it France achieved the exact opposite that you were trying to do now and what Tony achieved. Robert

dejayM's picture

Cheap trick

Yes Robert, correct. I wanted my post SEEN in UK and for it to be seen in other Salamader posts - there were NO other CoL Salamaders in iSpot. But now there is one 2014 post http://www.ispotnature.org/node/454838 - see my comment there.
It was my cheap way to get seen.
We have the same problem with Isle of Man and Channel Island posts - which are not seen as part of the UK Community.

Cassine's picture

Elephantine problem

But that is the elephanthine problem (To borrow from Tony's terminology). You are not seen where it matter! If you map the specimens, there is only 1 dot in France. And another in Czech Republic. The 2nd one is only there because Ispot placed it on the vernacular in the absence of a latin name. If someone change the likely ID on that obs, it will also disappear! Effectively someone, the Ispot curator has to put an new ID's to ensure that all 4 or 5 of the Salamander obs are plotted in the map. It is a massive problem! Robert

dejayM's picture

Operation Salamander

Yes, I see. But the Salamander 'problem' is small-fry compared to the serious issues facing Admin.
Curators vs Programmers is an uneven mismatch! We need a no-score draw...and SOON.

Cassine's picture

It is part of bigger problems

It is part of bigger problems. Because the obs is linked to a Dict and a Locality. This will affect cross border distributions. Projects etc. And how do you find it? ATM the only way is to use the Dictionary. It wont show up in a map. Robert

Tony Rebelo's picture

Can I tell?

Perhaps. This is compounded by many issues!

There is no surefire way of checking, except indirectly:

First of all it was posted in 2012 (not 2015 as the date added states: this bug is fixed, but the corrupted data are not fixed) - we can tell because of the first ID.

Then the first IDs are CoL. I am not aware of CoL being around on the old UK site - but I never used it so that might just be my ignorance. I dont know when the UKSI vs CoL dichotomy came about and if IDs were retrofitted or not. So I cannot make any inferences from that (I would have expected it to be the UKSI dictionary - I would have thought CoL only appeared in 2014 with the communities implementation).

Then the habitat is Coastal: that might perhaps be definitive: we do not have a "coastal" habitat in southern Africa - so it was probably posted on the UK site (it was not "global" at the time).
But after amalgamation our habitats got corrupted: so if posted from November 2014 to today that inference would be invalid. And it assumes that the observer did not edit the habitat during this period, in which case we are none the wiser - note that the observation was edited during this period so that we can no longer be certain.

Tony Rebelo's picture


There are two solutions to the Elephant Problem.

One, we are already using for Habitats.
That is: all the habitats are on iSpot (I think incorrectly: they should be structured, but that is another issue ). iSpot only has one habitat list.
But when you add data, only the habitats for the community are in the options list.
Thus we could have "community species dictionaries" that are appropriate for communities, but really only one "species dictionary".
The problem with this is that there is no globally suitable dictionary. CoL comes close, but is still far too incomplete to be useful at a regional level.
One solution might be for the regional dictionaries to be incorporated into CoL, so that it is useful: that would probably be a win-win. But CoL appears to not have all the taxonomical levels that would be useful.

This will require a reconfiguration of the basic iSpot architecture, but is a faster more elegant solution.
It will require buyin from the communities to contribute to CoL (or whatever system is chosen).

The other is what has been mooted so far.
That is:
The community dictionaries are still used as they are for data input to ensure relevant species lists (why see all of the worlds Kingfishers, when there are only 1 in the UK and ~10 in southern Africa.)
But for the filters (and thus the projects) all the dictionaries are used. Thus instead of just using say SANBI, the SQL gathering the data gets it from all of the dictionaries. This will solve the problem, but will be a bit slower.
There is a problem with this though in that -
* the dictionaries are not compatible: SANBI uses "subsp." whereas UKSI and CoL use trinomials for animals
* SANBI goes to subspecies and varieties, but the other dictionaries tend to stop at species level.
* SANBI uses far more taxonomic levels than the others (important for insect groups with lots of species)

This can be solved by correct configuration of the SQL - the easy option.
Changing the other dictionaries (e.g. making SANBI animals trinomials, adding subspecies to the UK) will result in all the identifications made to date having to be re-identified with trinomials (a huge task), or all current IDs being 'fixed' to omit the "subsp." and then linked to the dictionary.

dejayM's picture


Both excellent summaries Tony - thanks. A bit of a mess of course but it seems to me that, in the long run, a new World Species Dictionary might be needed. My guess is that Taxonomist all over the World might relish the idea.
I've been following some of the links here

gramandy's picture

I guess...

...this needs to be sorted really as people will not get the recognition for IDing various things they come across or know. Other people will be able to take over the credit stakes.

Over to the iSpot people really.


Tony Rebelo's picture

dictionary curation

Since long before the amalgamation was mooted was asked for a dictionary curation tool that would update new synonyms and tackle these issues without affecting reputation or such.

There has been no progress on this front.

it is quite simple really. When a name changes for taxonomical reasons, and the dictionary is updated, iSpot should go to each affected record (all IDs, not just the Likely IDs) and copy the ID to a new ID with the poster and agreers all carried over (and a curatorial note).
That way no one has to do anything, and users will be notified in their changes so that if they want they can go and remove their agreement from the old name, or if they disagree they can remove it from the new name, or if they dont care they can ignore it, and if they are dead, senile or no longer interested they will not interfere with the way iSpot calculates the Likely ID and fossilize wrong or outdated IDs into the system.

gramandy's picture


....do we go to the iSpot team mob handed? Are they likely to be aware of our discussions even?

Hello iSpot team are you out there?

Besides all of this - the little critter (the subject matter) is really cute.


Cassine's picture

At the moment

the old name will just link directly to the new/accepted name. See for ex http://www.ispotnature.org/node/634312. Apart from the redlist link that shows the old name.

Tony Rebelo's picture

more precisely

Only if you click on the collection (or ID).
But for a user trying to identify something from iSpot they will see the old name - Rhus - instead of Searsia - and get it wrong.
With proper a proper curatorial situation this will not happen: the latest name will always be there, even for IDs that are not likely the correct name will be clear from the curation notes.

And even when clicking on the collection, I have been momentarily baffled and taken back to see the name change - and I know how the system works! Imagine a beginner!

Cassine's picture

Yes, agree fully!

This is almost right. It just need a line: ID auto adjusted to ... and .... Robert

Tony Rebelo's picture

Part of the Blue Community -

Part of the Blue Community - Why not add it to the collection: tag "Blue Community"

For more please see http://www.ispotnature.org/projects/blue-community

Tony Rebelo's picture

Please also fix the habitat.

Please also fix the habitat. We do not use a Coastal Community in southern Africa: it is "Littoral"

So if you edit the tags, please also change the habitat to "Littoral"