Rana vs Lithobates

I realize not many many agree with me on this, but in regards to northern leopard frogs, bullfrogs, wood frogs, etc here in North America, I see many people using Lithobates. Lithobates was proposed by Hillis and Wilcox (2005) for certain central and south American frogs, and then Frost et al (2006) placed the aforementioned North American species into Lithobates. Subsequently, some (but not all) organizations referred to Lithobates pipiens, etc, rather than their former Rana designation.

The most recent paper on Rana/Lithobates, put pipiens, catesbeianus, clamitans, etc, back into Rana. I also note that many other papers, subsequent to Frost’s paper, rejected the use of Lithobates (e.g. Pauly et al. 2009). I also note that, up to and including this current year, Rana is still more commonly used than Lithobates.

From Yuan, et al. 2016:

" The major well-differentiated, morphologically and ecologically distinct clades within New World Rana largely support the traditional subgeneric designations for the genus… …Based on our phylogenetic analyses and the lack of any diagnostic morphological characters for the putative genera recognized by Fei et al. 2012 or Frost et al. (2006), and the clear monophyly of the larger group, we retain all these species in the traditional genus Rana."

I am suggesting that we switch these species back to Rana for INaturalist.

Frost DR, Grant T, Faivovich J, Bain RH, Haas A, Haddad CFB, De Sa RO, Channing A, Wilkinson M, Donnellan SC et al. 2006. The amphibian tree of life. Bull Am Mus Nat Hist 297:1–370

Pauly, Greg B.; Hillis, David M.; Cannatella, David C. (2009). “Taxonomic freedom and the role of official lists of species names” (PDF). Herpetologica. 65 (2): 115–128.

Yuan, Zhi-Yong; Zhou, Wei-Wei; Chen, Xin; Poyarkov, Nikolay A.; Chen, Hong-Man; Jang-Liaw, Nian-Hong; Chou, Wen-Hao; Matzke, Nicholas J.; Iizuka, Koji; Min, Mi-Sook; Kuzmin, Sergius L.; Zhang, Ya-Ping; Cannatella, David C.; Hillis, David M.; Che, Jing (2016). “Spatiotemporal diversification of the true frogs (genus Rana): A historical framework for a widely studied group of model organisms”. Systematic Biology. 65 (5): 824–842.

Such questions should be discussed in taxon flags.

Should I repost under the taxonomy flag?

(Sorry - new to INaturalist)

Yes, probably under Lithobates, you can add all the links and info into flag comments and tag other people who are experts in frogs or/and curators for amphibians.

There is a taxon flag for this under discussion at: https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/60340/flags

Looks like the issue is that iNat usually follows Amphibian Species of the World (ASW), and they haven’t yet accepted this change.

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This is one of those taxonomic situations that is in real flux at the moment. It’s probably best not to make changes in the taxonomy currently used on iNat. The consensus might very well shift to re-accepting Rana rather than Lithobates for many of these frog species, but I think that flipping it now would not be a good idea. Wait for a few more studies to clarify the situation.

Another more recent paper on the subject, from Nature (also indicating the controversial nature of debate):

The taxonomic classification of Ranid species is contentious and highly debated amongst scholars27. This stems largely from the suggested reclassification of the genus Rana in favor of Lithobates a few years ago28. Our phylogenetic analyses based on comparisons at the nucleotide level of complete mitochondrial genomes and genes from selected salamanders, toads, and Ranids does not offer a rationale for the proposed change. It instead supports a close relationship between species classified as Lithobates, which may be considered a subgenus within the Rana genus. This observation is consistent with the recent phylogenetic analysis by Yuan et al.32.

Closing this topic so that the taxonomic discussion can be focused on the taxon flag at https://www.inaturalist.org/flags/510500