Eastern/ gray ratsnake complex

I’ve been baffled by this complex for a while now, why does it exist? how did this come to be?

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My understanding is that there are some areas where it’s not really possible to determine the Pantherophis species from just a photo, at least based on current literature, and I also know some of the literature was/is disputed by some people. So a “species complex” on iNat was created to capture this ambiguity and allow people to ID the observation to a taxon that’s finer than genus.

See more about species complexes on iNat here: https://www.inaturalist.org/pages/curator+guide#complexes

You can also check out more recent discussion here: https://www.inaturalist.org/flags/532159


Everyone, including the snake taxonomists, is baffled by this complex. Just a complicated group of populations that doesn’t seem to fit well in any taxonomic arrangement.


For iNat at least, the complex was added to help end an ongoing argument between snake identifiers. It got pretty ugly.