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Purpose

I want to take a collection of iNaturalist observations and build a tree diagram of the taxonomic levels that occur in that sample.

Background

Most of us have seen diagrams like this

or like this

that illustrate some of the taxonomic ranks that biologists assign organisms into.

I am looking at the data export options for iNaturalist and I see that there are more possibilities than conveyed in these simple diagrams. I am also unfamiliar with precisely what these added levels are telling us. I could ignore these additional levels, but I would rather not if they are biologically meaningful. I have tabulated these export variable options in the order that I am guessing they belong in, alongside the similar names mentioned on wikipedia.

iNaturalist Wikipedia
taxon_kingdom_name Kingdom
taxon_phylum_name Phylum
taxon_subphylum_name Subphylum
taxon_superclass_name
taxon_class_name Class
taxon_subclass_name Subclass
taxon_superorder_name
taxon_order_name Order
taxon_suborder_name Suborder
taxon_superfamily_name
taxon_family_name Family
taxon_subfamily_name Subfamily
taxon_supertribe_name
taxon_tribe_name Tribe
taxon_subtribe_name Subtribe
taxon_genus_name Genus
taxon_genushybrid_name
taxon_species_name Species
taxon_hybrid_name
taxon_subspecies_name Subspecies
taxon_variety_name Variety
taxon_form_name Form

Questions

  1. Is there a total order on the iNaturalist taxon levels? If not, what are the exceptions?
  2. Do I have the taxonomic levels in the right order in my table?
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  • $\begingroup$ Wikipedia has another table with some more of these levels: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxonomic_rank#Terminations_of_names $\endgroup$
    – Galen
    May 15, 2022 at 19:13
  • $\begingroup$ I am not interested in software recommendations along the lines of "just put your data in <software_name> and it will figure it out". I have software solutions. I want a conceptual understanding of the (possibly partial or total) order. $\endgroup$
    – Galen
    May 15, 2022 at 19:22
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    $\begingroup$ I'll just point out that these rank-based definitions are highly problematic and not really consistent with current thinking (despite their prevalence on the web). biology.stackexchange.com/questions/55457/… $\endgroup$
    – kmm
    May 15, 2022 at 23:26
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    $\begingroup$ Too echo what @kmm says, these other middle/intervening levels of the hierarchy exist precisely because it doesn't quite work to build a hierarchy like this. When you want to refer to some relevant group, you sometimes have to come up with a new name for it. $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause
    May 16, 2022 at 1:30
  • $\begingroup$ This may be a better question for the iNaturalist forums. $\endgroup$ Jul 11, 2022 at 22:39

1 Answer 1

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I believe this is the correct order, based on this question:

kingdom
phylum
subphylum
superclass
class
subclass
infraclass
subterclass
superorder
order
suborder
infraorder
parvorder
zoosection
zoosubsection
superfamily
epifamily
family
subfamily
supertribe
tribe
subtribe
genus
genushybrid
subgenus
section
subsection
complex
species
hybrid
subspecies
variety
form
infrahybrid

Note that the hybrid ranks, biologically, break the otherwise strict hierarchy.

This FAQ may also be helpful.

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