Official reference for iNat taxonomy is http://www.reptile-database.org/ except for explicit discrepancies described here: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/inaturalist-reptile-working-group/journal
See also this (copied from https://www.inaturalist.org/pages/curator+guide#authorities)
Most of our classifications come from our external name providers, but for some groups we try to adhere to different taxonomic authorities. Note that this means when we are tracking a secondary taxonomic authority like this, we explicitly do not track the taxonomy from the primary literature. We have a couple reasons for this:
- Taxonomy is subjective and not every scientist agrees with every paper While it may seem like the naming and classification of organisms is a formal process and all scientists agree on what names organisms should have, the truth is much messier. While there are standards for when and how an organism should be named, they do not apply to all taxa, and there are basically no universal standards for when two groups of organisms should be considered separate species. Biologists have never been able to agree on standards in these areas, so the result is much more akin to correct use of language than correct use of the periodic table: everyone has their own opinion, but most people tend to follow authorities (either individuals or groups) who they trust to make reasonable decisions about what names should be used. Thus, using names and classifications just because someone published a paper declaring that they should be used (even a peer-reviewed paper) is not a great idea, because it doesn’t prove that the scientific community supports that paper’s assertions.
- iNaturalist is not a place to argue about taxonomy Or at least we don’t want it to be. Since taxonomy is subjective, people argue about it all the time, and since there is no absolute truth one can apply to settle such disputes, they can become rancorous, often to the point of absurdity. Following taxonomic authorities helps us avoid having these arguments on iNat. We can argue about which authorities to follow, but following authorities allows us to skip arguments about each and every paper.
- Primary sources are often hidden, while secondary sources are usually open iNat is largely a community of amateurs, and despite the advances made by open-access journals, the bulk of taxonomic literature is still prohibitively expensive for most amateurs to access. Avoiding the primary literature in favor of secondary taxonomic authorities, most of which are freely available on the Web, allows all our users to inspect the sources of taxonomic changes, not just the users with privileged access to the scientific literature.
- Following established authorities makes it easier for us to share your data with researchers “What taxonomy do you use?” is often one of the first questions we get from researchers interested in using our data, if we’re even fortunate enough to have that discussion. More often people find our data through aggregators like GBIF, so if we’re using synonymous names that researchers or GBIF doesn’t know about, researchers searching GBIF won’t find our data. Following authorities moderates the pace of taxonomic change in our data and increases the probability that people searching through it by name will find what they’re looking for.
Unfortunately, I’m not sure the authority is ever going to tell you that the range border between two species isn’t where we thought. If the authority can’t resolve the question even in principle, I think you really have to look at other bodies and try to figure out what they are doing. So are North American herp societies, state natural heritage agencies etc. following the new taxonomy? Maybe this will resolve things easily (iNat shouldn’t be switching to a new taxonomy if nobody else is).
Ultimately the point is that iNat wants to follow the consensus among scientists, and not try to determine whether any particular taxonomy is better or worse.
In any case, it shouldn’t be fought over on individual observations, and treatment of the literature should really be consistent across all observations. I see two options:
- Just keep all the relevant observations at genus-level until a consensus is obvious or an authority actually resolves things.
If that doesn’t seem reasonable I’d suggest:
- Make a journal post laying out the issue, tag in anyone possibly relevant, and try to come up with a consensus for how things should be treated the time being. At that point, people should be following that consensus.
I think this is probably the best way to follow the spirit of the iNat policies when the authorities aren’t useful. Maybe someone else has a better idea.