Journal archives for February 2024

February 25, 2024

Identification of Actinodium

Actinodium is quite a unique genus of flowering plant. Endemic to southwestern Western Australia, the flower heads look just like a daisy, but the genus is actually in Myrtaceae. There is one described species, Actinodium cunninghamii, the 'Albany Daisy'. Most observations get identified as this species.

However, there is actually a second entity in this genus, the currently undescribed phrase name species Actinodium sp. Fitzgerald River (H.A. Froebe & R. Classen 810). The two are very similar morphologically, and they also have strongly overlapping ranges. Here is how the two are separated in KeyBase:

Leaves 2.5–5 mm long; inflorescence heads 8–25 mm in diameter; linear bracts of outer sterile flowers 3-5 mm long = cunninghamii

Leaves usually 3.5–5.5 mm long; inflorescence heads 20–45 mm in diameter; linear bracts of outer sterile flowers 5–11 mm long = sp. Fitzgerald River

So broadly, sp. Fitzgerald River is a bigger plant. The leaf length character is the least useful given the ranges for the two strongly overlap, but the other two characters are almost mutually exclusive: sp. Fitzgerald River has flower heads with a much broader diameter, and the bracts of the outer sterile flowers are much longer.

(just noting that there may be other differences between the two, eg something like colour, but I am not aware of these differences, the only information I could find separating the two online is this key, so that's what I'm operating off)

Unfortunately most iNat observations of Actinodium don't have something for scale in shot, so it's difficult to confidently assign an ID in some cases. Having said that, there are definitely some observations where you can tell that the flower heads are quite small or quite large, and observations with hands in them help too. I'm going to review the 100+ records on iNat and, where an observation cannot be reliably assigned to either species, downgrade it to genus. For observations that are clearly sp. Fitzgerald River, the best ID for now is also genus, but I'll also add an observation field to keep track of them.

UPDATE: having gone through a few now, there are definitely observations that seem, to me at least, fairly easy to assign to either of the entities even without a sense of scale.

For example, here's one that is a very obvious cunninghamii based on very small flower heads: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/59563521

And then compare that to something like this where the flower heads seem to clearly be very large, a stark difference: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/35162058

Not all are so clear cut, and of course I picked these specific examples as 'extremes'/very obvious cases of each entity and not all of them look like this, but there are certainly ones which I'm confident about assigning.

Posted on February 25, 2024 03:39 AM by thebeachcomber thebeachcomber | 9 comments | Leave a comment

New Western Australian Isopogon changes

In January 2024, a new paper came out with some important changes in what are referred to as the Isopogon spathulatus and Isopogon polycephalus complexes. The paper is accessible here: https://doi.org/10.1002/tax.13129. Also noting two of the authors, @bmichanderson and @botanistbob, are on iNat, so congrats to them both!

To summarise the changes:

1 . Isopogon pallidus is newly described. This species was previously referred to as the phrase name Isopogon sp. Darling Range (F. Hort 1662).

2 . Isopogon elatus is newly described. This species was previously referred to as the phrase name Isopogon sp. Ravensthorpe (D.B. Foreman 1207).

3 . Two subspecies of Isopogon spathulatus were newly described, and thus of course Isopogon spathulathus subsp. spathulatus also now came into existence given there were no other subspecies before this paper. These are as follows:

i) Isopogon spathulatus subsp. elongatus is newly described. This was previously referred to as the phrase name Isopogon sp. Fitzgerald River (D.B. Foreman 813)

ii) Isopogon spathulatus subsp. obovatus. This was previously known as Isopogon buxifolius var. obovatus

The nominotypical subspecies, Isopogon spathulatus subsp. spathulatus, contains under it the synonyms Isopogon buxifolius var. spathulatus, Isopogon buxifolius var. linearis and the phrase name species Isopogon sp. Canning Reservoir (M.D. Tindale 121 & B.R. Maslin).

So notably here, we have three phrase name species that have now been formally described, and the circumscription of Isopogon buxifolius sensu strictu has been narrowed, and it's now recognised as quite a short range species.

The paper contains a fantastic key to species and subspecies of Western Australian Isopogon with entire, essentially flat leaves (both surfaces clearly visible). The key is as follows:

and here are some nice distribution maps from the paper:

I have already implemented all of these taxonomic changes in iNat, and all of the new species are now available. I'm going to go through observations relevant to the newly described stuff and add IDs where I can

fyi @margl @hillsflora @bushmonger @kelnat @boobook99 @nicklambert @gregtasney @possumpete @kezzza4
feel free to share and tag others

Posted on February 25, 2024 10:01 AM by thebeachcomber thebeachcomber | 6 comments | Leave a comment

Project Update 6: 2000+ members!

To my great surprise, I just realised it's been more than two and a half years since I last wrote a journal post for this project! Very lax of me, and apologies to all for the lack of more regular updates.

The project has been surging along, and we now have more than 7,000 observations, which is fantastic to see. We also recently surpassed 2,000 project members, thanks in part to some regular mentions of the project in recent iNat blog posts (eg observation of the week).

So for all the newer members, I'll run through the project rules again:

1 . Any observations you add must be the first photograph(s) of that species anywhere. If an observation is the first one for that species to be uploaded to iNat, but other photos of that species from an earlier point in time already exist anywhere elsewhere online/in print, then that observation should not be added to the project. This is the biggest source of observations that I have to remove from the project. So your observation must be both the first photograph of that species on iNat and also the first anywhere.

If you encounter an observation of a species that is older than one already in the project, add it, but please message me so I can remove the one that no longer qualifies as oldest.

2 . Your photograph must be of a living individual. A number of observations have been added that depict things like empty mollusc shells, dead fishes, pinned insects, etc. Whilst these are of course valuable observations, they are not eligible for the project.

3 . If the male and female of a species are sexually dimorphic, then both are valid to be added to the project. So too if a species has distinct life stages (eg caterpillar/chrysalis/butterfly), they are all valid to be separately added to the project (assuming the other rules apply). Ditto for plants; if one observation shows the first ever photos of flowers, and another the first ever of fruits, they are both ok to add to the project. Please make sure, however, that the first two rules are also followed in these cases.

The project is very much self-sustaining now, with users adding observations to it every day, and there are a number of users in particular who have added many IDs and/or added records to the project, so huge thanks to everyone involved. I'd like to especially highlight the recent efforts of @borisb, who has contributed tremendously (IDing and adding) in the world of beetles and has been a very vocal advocate for the project, letting users know each time he adds one of their observations.

Posted on February 25, 2024 12:48 PM by thebeachcomber thebeachcomber | 0 comments | Leave a comment