Add a "vagrant" establishment means

Just like Tropical Fire ant observations have an “introduced” status near its name, and on location pages, I would like it if there was a Vagrant status. It should ask for extra ID verification and should be marked on location pages. I would like the sign to be a capital red R on a black background, but it’s not important.

It sounds like a hard task, species start breeding in places where they were absent or one year but not the other, so not always it’s clear. We don’t have invasive status, only introduced, I guess also because even though for some species invasion is obvious, but it’s more of a grey area for many introduced species that are abundant but their role in local society is not clear or wasn’t studied enough. Maybe creating a special page with observations of species met far from other clusters of observations of that taxon, could do practically the same as you want, it would be hard to generate automatically, so it should be done for user request. At least if verification is your main goal.


Then maybe use an algorithm similar to eBird’s. If a species is out of range at any place at a given time, it can be classified as vagrant, but if subsequent observations find it in that place at the same time for subsequent seasons, it can be reported as a “Possible vagrant” or similar.

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Vagrant kind of implies “not established”, so I don’t fully understand why it might be indicated under establishment means. This designation is for HOW something became established, not the degree to which it is… maybe as a grey area to indicate partial (or potential for) establishment?


That’s because it occurs, just accidentally. But it STILL OCCURS.

Yes, a greyish area will be useful.

For me, it is tricky to think that all individuals of a species would stick to the species range maps that we see in academia. Nature is nature - it goes where it goes. I think that as organisms move freely and are also moved around a lot due to the innumerable factors of the world (ex: storms, humans, habitat fragmentation, temperature changes, physical barriers, glaciation, floods, evolution, etc.) determining “what is supposed to be where” becomes trickier do to the increasing number of variables. Perhaps our standards are all relative to something that, to be frank, may not be achievable anymore or does not helpfully serve us in understanding our world.

I wonder what iNaturalist is trying to achieve when they put Invasive and Non-Native labels on observations. What goal are they attempting to achieve? How do we define non-native - how far back in history and human influence do we need to consider to make these calls on labeling? I think labels should serve a purpose. I wonder - what purpose do you think “Vagrant” will serve the community?
I think trying to keep tabs on vagrant, and non-vagrant IDs would be adding another label to the mess of labels that academia attempts to confine nature in. I understand the frustration of labels and the nuances between how species and individuals are labeled - your feelings are completely understandable!

Please feel free to discuss more; I love conversations on such topics.


I think there’s no time limits, plants that were introduced 3 centuries ago are still introduced, though for some species it’s impossible to say what was their “real” area as they traveled with humans thousands years ago, though I’d say if they stayed at the same continent it can be classified as expanding range naturally.


I think it can help to notify people that a species is not under-documented (like Harnosand in Sweden has only five birds with one obs. each) but is supposed to be rare, and it can call for extra verification and approval by skilled ID’ers. It can also help to make iNat moments even more exciting when a rare species is found! Vagrant status can be a “Super vagrant” or a “Possible vagrant” depending on distance from range. For example, a Sri Lanka frogmouth in Jaffna, Sri Lanka would be a “Possible vagrant” as it is very close to the true range. A Ruby-crowned kinglet in Sri Lanka would surely be a “Super vagrant”, while a Common Rosefinch could be just a “Vagrant”.

We could update maps with a grey area, as @kiwifergus suggested, of, say, 50-500 km away from native range as a “possible vagrant” rage.

And the observation records the fact that it occurs…

I think atlases are a mechanism for defining range, but I’ve not worked with them at all so someone else will have to comment on the applicability for vagrancy. If they work as I imagine them to, then by definition any observation outside of range is vagrant (or potential location error).

My suggestion of a grey area is more along the lines of having any observation that is outside of range showing an indicator that it is so. I don’t think we need a grey area showing on the map, that would just “clutter” the map for users who don’t need that information.

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Okay, makes sense, but we can have it in-built but not displayed.

We don’t even have actual range maps for most of species, for thousands of species it is not known for science at all. Although creating such grey area around done observations to notify users can be a good idea.

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So we can do it for the more known species until science progresses.

I have worked with them, and they suffer from exactly this issue - what is a ‘range’. We can enter anything we want in atlases, checklists etc, but unresolved is what should we enter ?

Discussed in more detail here although like other topics it wandered in different directions than the original discussion.


So to be clear, I don’t think this has anything to do with the mechanism by which taxa are designated endemic or native or introduced… vagrancy is more an attribute of an individual, rather than a population. If it does transpire that there are multiple sightings of that species at that out of range location, then you either move the range boundary or you don’t, and that would be dependant on the specifics of the observations themselves.

If an individual normally resides at one side of it’s range, and then appears at the other side of it’s range, then technically it is vagrant! So we are not really talking about vagrant individuals, but rather “out of defined range” individuals, which is something entirely different to establishment means.


I mentioned earlier, “at a particular date”. If a Greater flamingo was reported in Sri Lanka during breeding season, that IS a vagrant! Even more unusual if they were breeding there!

That’s my point. It is unusual. Establishment means is talking about populations, which is more about what is usual…

Nymphalids and hawkmoths show how hard it is, they travel a lot, they show up where they don’t breed in big numbers and each year, and also where they breed too, but many kilometres away from were these specimens hatched.

yeah, I’m thinking of all the spiders that balloon. A range of where they turn up and don’t survive, like out at sea, is moot. I would expect a range map to show where the population typically extends to, and I would always expect the extents of the range to be “fuzzy”. Putting a measured degree of fuziness (eg the 50-500km suggested) is going to be incredibly species dependant… I can see it being interesting, but the cost/benefit is too high to be implementing it across the board. Certainly, anyone wanting that could extract the data and produce those maps for the taxa of interest.