I know iNat has been very helpful by creating some species groups to include sister taxa that are difficult or impossible to identify based on the typical evidence provided in iNaturalist records. Because they are sister taxa, it is easy to group them in one clade/node.
But I’ve run up against a species identification problem pair for non-sister species. - the Rough and Smooth Earthsnakes.
They had historically been the only two members of the genus Virginia and since they are sometimes difficult to ID from photos, we had the fall back identification of Virginia sp…
But now that recent evidence has shown that they are not a monophyletic clade, one of the species (Rough Earthsnake) has been moved back to its original genus Haldea. So there is no taxonomic unit that includes these two snakes other than the subfamily natricinae. The problem is that natricinae is a cosmopolitan group of 37 genera and several hundred species.
Yet I’m 100% sure from the photos that the snake is either Virginia valeriae or Haldea striatula.
I’m sure there are a lot of other examples where we have to resort to highest common taxon when we know more specifically what we are dealing with. Mimicry and convergence would be expected to create this problem.
Is there a way we can give an “either/or” ID for these sorts of non-sister taxa?