ranon.2011's picture

Bird - Stonechat

Observed: 14th September 2012 By: ranon.2011ranon.2011’s reputation in Birdsranon.2011’s reputation in Birdsranon.2011’s reputation in Birdsranon.2011’s reputation in Birdsranon.2011’s reputation in Birds
14.09.12 Bird - Stonechat
Species interactions

No interactions present.


ranon.2011's picture

Then iSpot needs to ensure

Then iSpot needs to ensure that using the identifier reflects this.

RoyW's picture

Taxonomical changes

Unfortunately this is one of the things that Ispot tends to take quite a while to catch up with.

Martin Harvey's picture

species names

iSpot has always taken the view that it is best to follow a recognised source for recommended names, and we currently use a version of the NBN species dictionary as supplied by the Natural History Museum.

Knowing that names have changed can be useful of course, but personally I would suggest that such information could be added as a comment rather than an additional ID, allowing the main iSpot ID to remain consistent with the NBN dictionary. But I'm sure opinions will differ on this.

We will be updating to the latest version of the NBN dictionary over the coming year (although as of today it still has Stonechat as S. torquata). We don't intend to make ad hoc changes to the dictionary names because A) that would lead to inconsistency and a lack of clarity in where names have come from, and B) we are not taxonomic experts.

There have been cases (in the insect world at least) where suggested name changes have subsequently been withdrawn again, so it can sometimes be a good thing to be a bit behind the times!

We do realise that people have differing and sometimes strong feelings about which names are most correct, but the best solution we can see is to remain consistent to a reputable source. Where names are out of date it is helpful to pass this on to the NBN dictionary managers, which can be done via:

(but bear in mind that the iSpot version of the NBN dictionary is a couple of years old, so in some cases updates will have been made already but are not yet available here).

The main NBN dictionary can be accessed at:

Entomologist and biological recorder

RoyW's picture

Thanks for the information Martin.

My personal opinion is that adding a new name as a comment is the best way forward when a name has been changed but both the old and new names still clearly refer to the same taxa (ie. when there is a name change without a 'split' being involved). An example would be European Greenfinch, which is now universally Chloris chloris (where the most up to date taxonomy is in use) but which is still has the 'recommended' scientifc name of Carduelis chloris on Ispot.

However, in this case the name "Stonechat, Saxicola torquata, would now almost universally be taken as referring to African Stonechat (although using a spelling for the species name which considered by all taxonomical authorities to be incorrect - and has been corrected to torquatus).
The only taxonomical authority that I am aware of that does not currently have the former "Common Stonechat, S. torquatus", as African Stonechat, S. torquatus, European Stonechat, S. rubicola, and Siberian Stonechat, S. maurus is the American Ornithologists Union (and the Clements World Checklist which follows their decisions). They did have them treated as separate species but have since 'lumped' them together again - and have done the same with several other species treated as separate by all other authorities.

It is interesting to note that the NBN forum link that you give for alerting them to new names/changes in names suggests that "PESI" (the Pan-European Species directory Infrastructure" is the main source that the NBN follow for species names - and I note that PESI has S. rubicola as a valid species name on a page that was last modified in May 2005!

For bird names I suspect that the NBN actually follow the British Ornithologists Union, who tend to be fairly slow to adopt taxonomical changes because they take their time to probably consider the relevant studies. The BOU only published their adoption the 'split' of S. torquatus early this year (see the 7th taxonomic sub-commitee report on the page linked below). They published the corrected changing torquata to torquatus in 2004 though (see 2nd taxonomical sub-commitee report):