Labeling Animal Hybrids

I know some plant hybrids are saved in iNat’s data base, however, as far as I know there’s nothing similar for animal. So what does everyone do if they do or ever did come across a hybrid out in the wild? I know they aren’t as common in nature as plant hybrids but they certainly exist.

Today I came across what I’m almost certain (and everyone else I’ve tried running it by) is an example of a natural hybrid between the Green Sunfish ( Lepomis cyanellus) and the Pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus). I had no way of properly labeling it so I just left it at the genus and left a note in the description about it.

I know it’s a hard to implement hybrids into iNaturalist because honestly with many examples it’s likely impossible to 100% identify a hybrid without a genetic test and really you end up with people guessing. At the same time though I think it’s important to identify hybrids in a system like this because if you continue to see a pattern of hybrids being found in a certain area that may be telling us something important about the species involved in that cross in that area.

We do have a few animal hybrid combos – check out the various geese, for example.

Another example is the population of non-native hybrid spiny-tailed iguanas at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson:×-macrolopha

If you come across a missing animal hybrid that should be in the database (e.g. it’s been documented in scientific literature), then you can flag the taxon at the genus level. From what I understand, the provided box doesn’t let you write much, but you can find the flag at and write a longer comment

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For everyone’s general information, here are the current guidelines for including names for hybrids within iNaturalist.

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I’m going to be showing my ignorance here I suspect, but I am confused by the treatment of intergeneric hybrids in the current guidelines. It states “Hybrids between species in different genera usually receive a generic name that is a portmanteau of the two constituent genera and a novel specific epithet, so the name of a hybrid genus should follow the pattern “× NEW_GENUS,” e.g. × Chitalpa , and should receive the rank “genushybrid.” The hybrid species should follow the rules above, e.g. × Chitalpa tashkentensis , and its parent would be the genus hybrid, e.g. × Chitalpa .”

Working primarily with birds, I have not come across this convention when reading about avian intergeneric hybrids in both popular and scientific journals. It is common to find them referred to by their respective scientific names rather than given a novel name, e.g. Bucephala clangula ⨯ Lophodytes cucullatus. Am I missing something?

I recently joined the Wild Hybrid and Intergrade Birds of North America project and was wanting to add some of the few hybrid combos I have photographed over the years, most of which are not currently in the database. Thanks for any guidance or clarity!


I’m not sure I even follow the example in the guidelines, but the handful of birds I just checked follow the standard you mention in the second paragraph (e.g., Anser anser x Branta canadensis). I couldn’t find any that employ a portmanteau of the genera.


No x Brantanser or x Anseranta, eh? I wonder if that is specific to botanical nomenclature only?

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The intergeneric one is:
Basileuterus rufifronsGeothypus trichas

The others are congeneric hybrids:

Piranga ludovicianaflava

Icterus cucullatusbullockii

Myioborus pictusminiatus

Should the protocol be to add them to one of the parent taxa and then flag for curation? Thanks for guidance!

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