Why is an observation of a hybrid species complex not counted as a research grade observation?

I recently made an observation of a large black snake and identified it as an eastern ratsnake. At least one other person agreed and my observation was upgraded from needs identification to research grade. Several others corrected my observation to eastern/gray ratsnake complex. I believe this means that my observation is most likely a hybrid of eastern and gray ratsnake. I assume the correction was made based on the fact that the observation was made in an area where hybridization is common. My question comes from the fact that my observation was downgraded from research grade to needs identification when it was identified as eastern/gray ratsnake complex. Since, outside of doing genetic testing there would be no way to definitively go any further in the identification, I can’t understand why the observation of a member of a hybrid complex is not as worthy of research grade as a pure species.

1 Like

Complexes fall into the “above species, below family” category, which can become Research Grade but don’t automatically. If you mark “No, it’s as good as it can be” at the bottom of the DQA it should become RG.


Not sure I know what/where DQA is.

Data Quality Assessment. On the observation page, scroll down to the bottom. It’s the big box with all the checkmarks. If you wait a minute I’ll get a screen shot.

This thing:


Thanx. I found it and checked the box. I am pretty sure you’d have to do genomic testing to go any further.


There was a feature request and discussion around this here if you’re interested: https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/make-observations-with-a-species-complex-level-community-id-automatically-become-research-grade/15226

1 Like

It’s also worth reiterating – even if I haven’t internalized it yet either – that “RG” status shouldn’t be such a big deal. it’s all available for research; and even RG observations can be flawed or inappropriate. RG is just an arbitrary guideline.


Complexes are used when you need microscopic or genomic details to get to species ID. Sometimes it’s possible to identify to the nominate species, but not always.

We are allowed to assign different personal levels of importance to it. I for one am frustrated that so few of my observations make RG – and more frustrated still when one that was RG for a long time gets downgraded.

1 Like

We’re all allowed to have feelings about whatever we want! I don’t mean to police that. I guess I’m just trying to encourage not putting too much importance on it; it’s arbitrary and doesn’t really mark a difference between useful and useless observations.


This topic was automatically closed 60 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.