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What's the stance on using bugguide/iNaturalist data to extend known ranges?

For example- I've been going through iNaturalist trying to get better at stink bug identification (and trying to encourage interesting finds to be cross-posted over to bugguide) and have come across a few examples of Brochymena myops ranging north into Virginia. According to our info page here, the species ranges no further north than North Carolina (according to a 1988 source). I'm confident in these identifications but I know that we can't really verify that these photos did in fact come from Virginia.

Would it be acceptable to add in something to our info page like "iNaturalist data suggests that the species may range north into Virginia", sourcing to a range map from the site?

What do you guys think? Apologies if this has been discussed before and I missed it.

online sources of distribution data
iNaturalist is one source of distribution data. I made the following link if one wants to cite that source:
iNat link: (1)

but the the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) is the largest online source of distribution data:
GBIF link: (2)

GBIF actually incorporates data from iNat, BugGuide(!), as well as museum spmn data that has been digitized, so using GBIF covers most bases, except for published/literature records. Thus I find GBIF to be invaluable. Note, for species groups that are difficult to visually determine to the species level, GBIF usually just presents data at the genus level.

Lately, I've taken to adding a "Map" link which links to the GBIF species page within the BG Range field, see here for example. Note, I always try to include at least one literature range reference in addition to the GBIF reference.

Thanks for the responses!

Hi Andrew
It looks to me like you just want to expand BG's Info page to include data from another site, in this case iNat. I don't see a problem with this, esp if you cite the other site appropriately. But if you want to publish something formally, it should probably come from voucher-ID'd specimens.

This has frequently been an interesting, albeit swirling, debate when it comes to when it is appropriate to use online data to expand distributions. The following is a bit of an expansion of what you originally asked, but it is likely to come up in such a discussion...

When I started my Elateridae of the Southeast project back in 2010 or so, I asked a similar question about using BugGuide data. I asked several colleagues, both professional entomologists and productive amateurs like myself, and the overwhelming consensus is that formal data should come from curated specimens in an institutional collection or personal collection of a reputable collector.

As I get closer to publication I revisited this question just a month or so ago, to see if the attitude has changed as sites like BugGuide and iNaturalist have become more productive. Yet still, the overwhelming opinion was not to use such data n the absence of a curated specimen.

If you are creating a website, or even publishing records, you can maybe use BG/iNat data with a disclaimer. For example: 'Images posted online document the species' presence in Virginia, although no specimens collected from that state have been examined' and cite the site appropriately.

One of my long-term projects (I hope not too long lol) is to publish a catalogue of the elaterids of North America with Paul Johnson. And for a catalogue I am more-likely to use online data. But for descriptions, faunal studies, revisions, etc. data really should come from voucher-identifies, curated specimens.

If an insect is indisputably identifiable
then it can be a valid record. If not then not. If there is any doubt the uncertainty can be noted.

Anyone online can check and recheck at any time any Bugguide record. Not true of most specimen records in collections!

I have become an avid user of iNaturalist as well...
Mostly for the ability to see my subfamily of interest in other countries. In my opinion, both sites come with a need to trust that the photos were indeed taken where the submitter lists.

Two sites accepted as reliable databases for Orthopterans, SINA and OSF, have range maps which don't match up with what has been posted on BugGuide. I've always considered that anything within a couple states of the previously known range could certainly be range extensions. North Carolina to Virginia seems plausible to me. Perhaps you can suggest the photographer submit their photo to BugGuide. I have requested photographers send me photos they had submitted to iNaturalist so I could add them to the Orthoptera Species File site to update the range maps.

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