Marking species as endemic to places

Sometimes while browsing through places and marking the species I run across one that was once endemic to a certain place, but has been spread elsewhere by humans. An example of this is the Knight Anole (Anolis equestris). Originally endemic to Cuba, it has been introduced to Florida and the Bahamas. My question is, would I mark this species as endemic on the Cuba checklist since it’s only native range is there or should it just be left as native to Cuba?


Really good question. The definition iNat shows in the help popup for Establishment Means simply says Native and occurs nowhere else.

But if the iNat community sees value in recognizing endemic ranges even after a species has spread because of human activity, maybe we should discuss changing to something like Native here and nowhere else.


I agree with the wording you propose. The current wording seems to suggest that the species can’t be found anywhere else, regardless of the way it spread. However, I definitely think that there is some value in recognizing not only how these organisms evolved in isolated environments, but the extent to which humans have affected their range.

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The definition of endemic is native and restricted to a certain place. I’d rather not have terms having specialized meanings for iNat (or any place).

Native here and nowhere else just says Native, nothing more. The here is just smaller or bigger in different cases.

Well, the idea was to convey not native anywhere else outside this place, which seems like something more than just Native, but not quite as restrictive as the current definition of Endemic, because it allows for human-aided introduction outside its native range. Maybe it’s just my wording issue.

I guess the kind of question I am curious about is, say someone managed to get some Hymenoxys texana seeds (a Texas endemic) back to southern Asia somewhere to grow them, and they managed to escape and become naturalized there. Would you stop calling Hymenoxys texana endemic to Texas at that point?

Not saying there is a right or wrong answer there, just interested in how folks usually think of “endemic” in such scenarios.

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I would still all it an endemic to Texas at least ecologically… it is another grey area though.


What is “This place”? Everything is only native to this place, the this place changes though. There are things endemic to patches of land, islands, countries, continents, planets(earth is currently only one verified :) )

This is a good question. Endemic has always been a rather loose term. There are species endemic to certain islands or mountain ranges, and those have some ecological, evolutionary and likely conservation significance. But those endemic to a certain political area (state/province, country) might be of lesser significance. And introductions have now changed the status of some species, such as Anolis equestris. Perhaps one way to state it is: Native population endemic to Cuba; introduced elsewhere.


Definitely agree here. It would be interesting to add a new establishment means field specifically for cases like this. Saying a species is endemic to North America or Germany is not really of particular importance. A species confined to an isolated geographic area (e.g. Kauai, Mt. Everest or Mammoth Cave) generally has much higher cultural and conservation importance. Would people in the eastern US say the Carolina Chickadee is an important characteristic of that location? Probably not, even though it is endemic. However, people in Hawaii would probably think that the endemic species are of cultural importance and need to be protected and recognized.

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True. The “huge scale endemics” like that have come up before and have mostly been removed. I agree they make no sense. And the potential for panspermia aside everything is endemic to Earth.

Sorry, I wasn’t being clear about that. Assignment of endemic status is always relative to a specific place record (and checklist) in iNaturalist. So this place was intended as a fill-in-the-blank placeholder in a general statement. Whatever place we are talking about (a county, state, country, etc.) – if a species was formerly native and restricted to that place, and then it gets introduced and naturalized somewhere else by humans, do we stop calling it “endemic” to its original place, where it was formerly restricted?

I agree, but I imagine that is always going to be a judgment call in borderline cases.

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Yes, once it spreads, by whatever means, it is no longer “endemic”. At that point it is simply “native” to that area. At least in my opinion.

Thanks, definitely interested in all the community opinions that exist on this topic!

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