Endemic star criteria

I have been adding the “endemic” Establishment Means for lots of insect species in Spain.

I also realized that when this is added to several places, each one encompassing the others, the criteria of the place said in the star seem weird to me.

For example, I added the status “endemic to La Palma” (an island from the Canary Islands) for Calliphona palmensis, and it already had already been added as endemic to Canary Islands, Canary Islands Archipelago, and Spain. It showed as endemic to Canary Islands.

In my opinion, the endemic tag should indicate the smallest place, but that is not what appears to happen. What are the criteria for this? Anyone else thinks that these criteria is not appropriate?


I agree, if that species is only found on that single island, labelling it as endemic to Spain is misleading imo.

If it was a mainland state within a country, my opinion would probably be different, e.g., if something was only found in New South Wales, I would be ok with it being labelled as endemic to Australia.

But for a small, offshore island to be lumped under Spain itself for the purposes of this annotation doesn’t seem the right way to go here. I am not totally against it being labelled as endemic to the Canary Islands more broadly, but that’s as far as I would personally go.


Are you saying these statuses are automatically added? I’ve seen taxa somehow marked as endemic to North America even though this is not possible for users to set.

1 Like

Doesn’t this propagate upwards? That is, if I mark a taxon as endemic for a second-level division of a country, it will also be marked as an endemic for that country which, after all, it is. It seems to me that this is intuitively correct: taxa endemic to the Galapagos are also endemic to Ecuador and I would want a list of endemic Ecuadorean taxa to include them. I would agree that it’s best to mark endemism at the lowest applicable geographic level.


The opposite is true for me, I don’t see this as intuitive at all. The biota on the Galapagos is pretty different to that in Ecuador. The inclusion of the former within the latter is a political thing, not a biogeographical grouping. So it’s unclear to me how lumping Galapagos species under an Ecuadorean list would be helpful at all from any kind of ecological or taxa-based perspective (aside from perhaps cases like which governments are responsible for management/conservation of certain species).

As an extreme example, the Falkland Islands fall under the UK, but if you had Falkland endemics, you wouldn’t want them lumped with a list of UK endemics


I mean, if we were using something like WGSRPD as the basis of mapping and checklists in iNat, sure, but iNaturalist places and boundaries basically come from GADM, and reflect political boundaries.

Arguably it would be better to follow more biogeographically based boundaries, but as veterans of the Great Canadian Obscuration will recall with a shudder, political management boundaries are quite significant to us…


If my coffee mug is in my kitchen, my coffee mug is in my house.

Yes, this would start to get weird if parts of my house were separated from each other by hundreds of miles.


If it’s an endemic of an island, it is endemic of the country, what’s the problem?


Endemism is an important aspect and driver for conservation measures from governments, and is also recognized by the general public as something special, so there has always been a political aspect to this (a reason to be proud of their country, like for a successful national sports team - it’s just how societies work…).
Of course, from a scientific perspective it is more reasonable to evaluate endemism based on restricted ranges and habitats, such as islands.

Those different interpretations of endemism lead to different numbers, say for the islands of Hispaniola or New Guinea, shared by two countries, or the many unique species in the Cordillera de Talamanca - which are shared by Costa Rica and Panama, resulting in a much lower number of endemism on country level.

I recently joined a presentation held by the National Parks Austria where they showed numbers of endemic species for their parks. However, four of those parks actually reach to the state border or are even shared with neighboring countries. But governments want numbers…

For (remote) islands, it is easier to see them as a closed entity (in comparison to e.g. high mountain ranges), so it is understandable how it seems weird to count those species for the whole (‘mainland’) country. Even more so with increasing distance.

Spain might have some saying in how endemic species on the Canaries should be protected, but does this warrant to have them displayed as ‘Spanish Endemics’?
And then, we have French Guiana in South America, which is an integral part of France and belongs to the European Union…
Not providing a solution here, just some food for thoughts :)


Users can mark species as endemic or invasive in places.

I’ve done that often in the area I work.

explain please? My google won’t.

1 Like

When iNatCanada obscured a lot of things? Canada has a long history of that, so maybe it’s this.


@pdfuenteb there are two points:

  1. The canary islands and other Spanish territories in Africa should not be a descending place of Spain nor Europe because it creates major inconsistencies in the places lists.

  2. It makes sense for this species to be also listed as a Canarian endemic or even Macaronesian endemic. But on individual observation it is stated “Endemic in La Palma, CN, ES: native and occurs nowhere else”

1 Like

It is now stated as “Endemic in La Palma” because I had to delete all the other establishments so it could appear as such (I was just trying to understand how it worked), and then re-add the establishment means. So it appears that it only works with the first establishment added.


Not to continents though. Doing so gives an error message.

It’s probably worth pointing out more explicitly (many have already touched on this indirectly) the intent of labelling something as endemic in the first place. If such labelling is intended for management – say, on a government list of species of special concern – then yes, the nesting makes sense even over great distances. While the Falklands are extremely far from the UK, if they’re being managed by the UK government then I would expect to see their endemics on UK government legislation dealing with them.

That having been said, is that what the “endemic” label is being used for on iNat? It doesn’t seem like it to me. This site, at least from my perspective, is really more about the biology/ecology and, therefore, I would rather see endemics listed at their smallest scale rather than the largest.

Basically, if I were the government of Panama, I would want to know all the endemics within the country’s borders, but if I were a scientist looking at a single mountain range in Panama I wouldn’t want to have to think about any species endemic to a different mountain range within the country.


Did you know that you could do this?

simply add &endemic to the url and the endemic species to the place display.

And yes your Calliphona palmensis is there.

1 Like

Can you make it say the smallest region if it displays for the largest region? For instance, let the sticker come up for Equador but if you hover over it, have it say “Endemic to the Galapagos Islands, Equador”


Makes sense to me! Letting the star show up at larger scales but listing the smallest region on hover should balance different interests pretty well IMO

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed 60 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.