Add a "Reintroduced" establishment category

I did try to start a discussion on this a few months ago alongside another establishment idea I had (https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/reintroduced-and-self-introduced-establishment-means/3437), but the discussion was dominated by the “self-introduced” idea, with nothing about the “reintroduced” category, so I’ll make a suggestion post just for this one.

Might it be possible to create a “reintroduced” establishment category for plants / animals that have been reintroduced to an area they were extirpated from? The reason I suggest this category is because I think it would be good practice to indicate that just because an organism is present and native to a certain locality doesn’t mean that it has always been there in the immediate past. For example, a foreign user looking at the American Bison distribution map may assume that most of the localities east of the Rockies are home to relict populations of bison when in actuality, their populations were reintroduced from surviving bison herds in the Rockies and westward.

In addition, reintroduced animals can be of much different genetic origin than the former residents of the area. For example, the yellow-crowned night-herons on Bermuda were reintroduced to take the place of the extinct Bermuda night-heron, which was a completely different species in the same genus. But if one didn’t hear about the reintroduction and looked at the range map, they might assume the night-heron population on Bermuda to be an isolated population that naturally colonized the area after being blown in by storms. Thus, adding a symbol for a reintroduced taxon can educate users about how animal populations can be reestablished by human effort, and also indicate that the population currently present is not the same as the one in the past.

Unlike other establishment categories, this one could also be compatible with other establishment means (i.e. the red wolf is an endemic species to the US but has been reintroduced to NC, so an observation would have both the green star icon and the reintroduced one).

My suggestion for the "“reintroduced” establishment icon on an observation would be a white cross on a blue background (something like this). I suggest this because blue isn’t a color that has been used by these icons yet, and the cross is a frequent symbol of first-aid (much like how reintroduction is basically first-aid for a species’s survival chances). Of course, I do understand it looks a bit like the Greek flag.

I rather like this idea.

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This is a brilliant idea, as I’ve often come across native plants that I know human agency was involved in establishing. The genetic make-up may be the same if local seed was used, but unfortunately, one usually has no idea where the original seed came from, and may have totally different genetics than what was originally there.

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I agree this is a good idea. I’ve posted a couple of animal records from my area that were of reintroduced species and it required explanation in the Description to make clear these were not native individuals.

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Well, establishment means applies to a place not an observation so won’t help if it’s reintroduced into a place where it was also still extant. For that you’d probably need an annotation or field.

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I’m thinking about species like Black-footed Ferret, which was extirpated rangewide, and therefore any observation in the field is of animals in a reintroduced population. Or North American River Otter which was extirpated in many areas of the U.S. but has since been reintroduced and reestablished; many extant populations are derived solely from animals that were transplanted from elsewhere.

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It’s a good idea but in practice I don’t think it would work out so well. To run with the river otter point, they were fully extirpated here in my county but never completely went away in counties within an hour’s drive. The reintroduced populations ultimately mingled with non-reintroduced populations that naturally spread back to the area and it’s impossible to say what’s what. An average observer also may not know the specific details about which species were reintroduced to which counties or regions within a state.

Pumas are another example. There have always been occasional sightings of pumas in Tennessee. There’s not a firm consensus on whether the ones currently popping up in West Tennessee are truly wild cats expanding their range, or if they’re the descendants of escaped and released exotic pets. There’s no sure way to know until there’s been DNA testing.

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I was actually pondering over this a bit before, and I decided that the possible establishment category should only work when the reintroduced populations have no connectivity to either wild populations. To go back to the bison example, most of these reintroduced populations are restricted to one relatively small patch of remnant grassland or restored grassland and basically no genetic continuity is allowed between them, so it would be applicable for them. But on the other hand, if there is a reintroduced population of beavers that commingles with other native populations in the same area, the reintroduced category wouldn’t be applicable for that.

But predominantly, I intend this category to be used mainly for large regions of land that a species has been extirpated from and reintroduced to. For example, the bison was completely extirpated from most areas east of the Rockies until reintroduction, the whooping crane was completely extirpated from the state of Wisconsin until reintroduction, the Bermuda night heron was completely wiped out from the island of Bermuda until a closely related species was reintroduced. Cases like these involve significant areas of land (more than half of a country, a whole state, a remote island chain) and are what I had in mind for this establishment means.

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It’s obviously situation specific. Yes, there will always be ambiguous examples where the category might not be useful or applicable. River otters in your area might not be readily assignable to reintroduced, but they are where I live in the Southwest U.S. Consider the reintroduced (in the 1980s) Verde River population of otters in Arizona which is effectively isolated from any other otter populations. No evidence of any extant native otters anywhere close.

If we have a “reintroduced” could we also please have an “extralimital” category for species that have naturally extended their range, either because of habitat alteration (e.g. cities = forests and sports fields = wetlands) providing novel habitats, or for climate-change or other natural colonization in historical times?
((On the assumption that “introduced” means introduced by direct human transfer of some sort).