Why is Canis familiaris labled as "introduced"?

Can you still say a species is introduced when the introduction happened thousands of years ago?

Aren’t all domestic animals introduced? So, is that distinction relevant for them?

Good question. In the case of domesticated animals, they have been introduced in most places on the planet except where they were first domesticated, which isn’t necessarily known. An individual dog record on iNat is going to be considered introduced because that animal got to its documented location via human intervention, in one way or another. So although it’s redundant to label all dog records that way, it isn’t incorrect. And it clearly places the dog records for a certain location in the non-native species category where it belongs.


Wouldn’t it make more sense to just mark them as “captive/cultivated” or change the item to “captive/cultivated/domesticated”?

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I suppose you could. The distinction I’m most interested in is if the domesticated animal at a particular location represents a feral population or not. That is also not a clear-cut category since some supposedly feral populations of domesticated species (dog, cat, horse, etc.) persist in part with support from humans. In my region, there are feral or semi-feral populations of domesticated dog, which potentially could be documented differently on iNat than a photo-record of someone’s pet dog in their backyard.

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The problem if you mark all domestic animals as captive is that feral records are not going to make to Research grade. And in some places that is important, like in my case, when we use iNat as a tool helping decision making policies.


Well vechocho that seems to be a problem of the “captive” flag, it seems some cryptic database rule does not allow the same species to exist as captive and feral in the same area. … This should be solved by changing the non realistic database rules, that come with the captive flag.

As for Canis familiaris I found the following statement on iNat
“Introduced in Asia: Arrived in the region via anthropogenic means”
This is certainly nonsense as Canis familiaris evolved in Asia from its wild ancestors to the domestic animal it is now.

To come back to the original question of liesvanrompaey.

Biodiversity databases like iNaturalist are needed, as mankind is about to loose an important resource. - Biodiversity. So having as much information as possible on where species are currently living, is important, in order to preserve this resource.

One aspect of biodiversity, is genetic diversity. Often, species introductions by humans, go back to a very limited number of individuals. Which means that introduced populations are often genetically poor, while populations of organisms within their native range are genetically much more diversified. It therefore makes usually sense, to focus conservation efforts on native and endemic species, and not on introduced species.

So the distinction of introduced versus native is relevant, even if the introduction happened before we were born. And certainly the conservation of domesticated species should primarily focus on their area of origin … see: e.g. the Potato Park, located in the Cusco region of Peru.

So in theory domesticated potato plants in Cusco, Peru should not be marked as introduced. (And look here, they are not!) https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/508364
While in Idaho and Ireland they should be marked as introduced (Idaho is marked! well still working on Ireland) https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/29877581, https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/29206038

Yes, of course in some cases it is only a hypothesis.
Anyway they are called archaeozoa (plants of ancient introduction in the wild are acheophytes).
As far as domestic dog is concerned, native populations cannot exist since it has evolved not by itself but as a domesticated taxon.

Evolution with relations to other organisms, is rather the norm than the exception. Aphids evolved with ants, monarchs with milkweed and dogs with humans. Aphids and monarchs are native somewhere … so why shouldn´t dogs?

Try to look at the evolutionary line of organisms. If this line is discontinuous in space and time due to transport of organisms by human to a new area, then the organism is introduced (e.g. cattle and dogs in the Americas). If the line is continuous like in the case of potatoes in Peru, apples in the Altai mountains and dogs in Asia … then the organism are clearly not introduced, which means they are native.

I’d argue that every Canis familiaris on the planet today has arrived at its current location via human intervention, recently or in the past. Since we can’t pinpoint exactly where the first domesticated dog arose – probably more than one location – and there has been a lot of human transport and crossbreeding of dogs since, identifying a native domesticated dog is probably not possible.

The history and taxonomy of Canis, both wild and domesticated, is pretty convoluted. E.g., check out the Domestic Dog and Dingo accounts on iNat. The species complex of wolves and dogs is sometimes called “Canis soup” for good reason.


In iNat, all domestic dog records are by default “feral” unless the “captive/cultivated” option is selected.


I appreciate your arguments jnstuart, but i want to remind you of the meaning of the word “introduced”. It means “insert or bring an organism into an area where it was formerly not present”. A organism can not be considered “introduced by human” into an area where it was continuously present and where it either arrived by itself, or where its ancestors have already lived before human started interfering with them.

I know that the suspected locations for the domestication of dogs stretches from Western Europe, to Central and Eastern Asia. And i see that it might be technically tricky to outline the native range of dogs, especially as these domestication events predate written history and might have happened repeatedly. But i would insist that other domesticated taxa, where these events were better documented or easier to locate, should be assigned a native range in iNat, which means an area where they are not marked as introduced.

The definition as used by iNat when they flag a record as “introduced” is:

“Introduced in [some area]: Arrived in the region via anthropogenic means.”

We can debate whether that is a sufficient definition or not, either for the species as a whole or an individual organism . But it seems appropriate for all modern domesticated dog records.

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Well “introduced” or “native” is a character of species in a certain area. This is not a character of individuals or individual observations. - This is the way I understand this and also the way it is handled on iNaturalist. So transport of individual organisms by human, within the native or introduced range, is largely irrelevant for the decision “introduced” or “native”.

Well that is the same definition i gave, in other words. Arrived means it (the species - evolutionary lineage) is now present in the area, but was formerly not.

Domestic animals, by definition, don’t have native ranges because they were bred in captivity. The wild form they were bred from (which may be the same species in the case of something like a Muscovy or a different species in the case of dogs) have native ranges.

There are no “wild” Canis familiaris - all individuals are either captive or feral (i.e. descendants of formerly captive animals now breeding in the wild).

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In the case of an animal, the “captive/cultivated” is only for use when the animal is a pet, livestock, etc. and not free-roaming or feral. This distinction is useful for delineating where feral populations are breeding, without muddling the picture with captive individuals. For example, there are horses in every state in the U.S., but in most places these are captive animals and only a few states have feral breeding populations.


Well “wild - captive” is at least in languages i speak, not synonymous to “native - introduced” these 2 pairs of antonyms are in my humble opinion as independent as tall - short and slim - plump.

To test the above definition given by fogartyf, i looked up some domestic animals … and the majority of all domestic animals seem to have a native range in iNaturalist. Apis mellifera has a native range, Apis cerana has one either, Carassius auratus, Betta splendens, Columba livia have one, and many other domestic animals have a native range too … Nymphicus hollandicus, Melopsittacus undulatus, Taeniopygia guttata, Rattus norvegicus, Chinchilla lanigera, Mus musculus, Oryctolagus cuniculus, even Cavia porcellus, Bos javanicus, Bos gaurus, Bos mutus and Sus scrofa … (I got tired of looking up more). All have a more or less well known native range.

While doing this search i also found out, that iNat claims that some evolutionary lineages are introduced everywhere on earth. That-s an rather remarkable point of view and it raises the question whether or not, these evolutionary lineages (dogs, cats, cattle, zebu, sheep, goats, lamas and alpacas) originated at least within our solar system :alien:.

In (at least most - I’m not familiar with all of those species) of the examples you listed, the domesticated form and the wild-type are considered conspecific, so there’s nothing amiss. For example, domestic pigeons are considered to be the same species as the wild-type species they were bred from. So Columba livia correctly has a range for the wild-type, and the domestic form of the taxon is listed as introduced everywhere it occurs. That gets a little more difficult in places were the domesticated form has been introduced in the native range of the wild-type, but that’s where using the correct taxon in iNat becomes important.

You are correct that wild-captive and native-introduced are not synonymous. I don’t think anyone is asserting they are. In iNat, wild/captive is determined by the community in the Data Quality Assessment for each record, whereas the native/introduced range is a quality of the entire taxon. Every record is either wild or captive, and the location of that record falls in a portion of the range designated as native or introduced.


Seriously?? And, why might that be, may I ask? 4 + people just got through pointing out that Canis familiaris can never be marked as wild/feral, because the species itself evolved alongside human civilization. I’m really confused here.

“Wild” is the default status for all iNat observations of any species - there is no option to mark an observation as such. Essentially, every observation you upload is assumed to be wild (with feral being a specific case of wild) unless the “captive/cultivated” option in the DQA is selected. Does that make sense?

Just to clarify definitions, feral refers to an individual that is derived from a captive population but is now established outside of captivity (aka it is “wild”).

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