Aetobatus narinari’s split based on locations

In 2013-14, aetobatus narinari was split into 3 species (narinari, laticeps, and ocellatus) based on locations.

Is there any backing to why they were split as species as all three are morphological up identical, there were slight genetic differences but wouldn’t that mean they’d be divided as subspecies

I feel that A. narinari is indifferent to the two species split from it, and that they’d be more fitting to exist as subspecies from these slight genetic differences like for example “Aetobatus narinari atlanticus”, “ Aetobatus narinari ocellatus” and “Aetobatus narinari laticeps”

You need to discuss such questions under flags for taxon in question, tag there experts if you know any from iNat.


Possibly (unsure) this may fit into the curation category. It would in general be informative to many users if the topic of when species are to be split into species or subspecies could be overviewed somewhere on the forum or in an inat informative document elsewhere.

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Recognizing these three new species on iNaturalist would require us to do what we are advised not to do: ID based on location.

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Re: whether to recognize the species/subspecies, I think in most cases scientific publications describing their new taxonomy are reliable, at least if there’s no academic debate over them. If you have questions about their validity you can email the article’s author for correspondence.

I think doing so is justified as long as the species/subspecies are valid. Although not IDing based on location may be justified if the taxa aren’t valid, but in which case they wouldn’t be needed to differentiated. I’d again recommend discussing with authors the reasons they differentiate them. From what I’ve seen among various wildlife, modern authors often try to use strong or more exact standards for when to “split” taxa, and they “merge” unnecessary ones. That’s good and can make it more reasonable for iNat to follow their system, since there shouldn’t be many unnecessary taxa. That said I agree it means identification is more difficult and must keep species range in mind.

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