The use of Rana instead of Lithobates

This is a repost under the “Taxonomy” tag.

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.

Does Lithobates’ existence make Rana paraphyletic? Not too familiar with the relationships of the group. But, ive always been of the opinion that where we draw the line exactly of species and genera is kinda arbitrary anyway, and if it doesn’t cause genera to be paraphyletic why not have different genera. The existence of Lithobates and Rana shows even at a glance, that, even though both are closely related, Lithobates are their own distinct branch on the evolutionary tree, with their own history of how they spread, speciated, etc. Just having a massive genus with like what, close to 100 species spread across a good chunk of the world? Doesn’t really tell me any of that.

Hi @Pauritus, sorry it wasn’t clear earlier. These issues should be discussed as comments on taxon flags in iNaturalist, meaning the one currently at (where I see you have already added a comment), instead of here on the iNaturalist Forum.

I am closing this thread so that discussion can be focused at