What this report does
This report summarizes the general status assessments of a large number and variety of wild species occurring in Canada. It focuses on the general status of all species within each of these groups, rather than on the general status of only rare or endangered species. So, for example, one can ask questions like: Are salamanders doing better than frogs in Nova Scotia? Has the general status of salamanders in Nova Scotia changed since 2000? Is this pattern the same in Manitoba, or Canada as a whole? How does the general status of salamanders and frogs compare with that of other groups that are associated with water, like fishes? These and many other questions can be answered because the report draws together information on different types of species, from all provinces and territories and portions of three bordering oceans, and presents general status ranks for species in each region as well as overall Canada General Status Ranks (Canada ranks).
General status assessments focus on establishing what information and expertise already exist and using these to develop general status ranks for as many species as possible. This allows existing knowledge to be presented to the public rather than delaying a report until complete scientific information is available. There is a large number of species that are undescribed or unrecorded (i.e. species that are new to science or species that are already known to science but that have not yet been documented as occurring in Canada; Mosquin and Whiting, 1992).
The exceptional number and variety of species covered in the Wild Species series requires that it distill detailed information into broad general status categories. Accordingly, while in some cases the report draws upon the information available from initiatives devoted to particular species groups, regions, or functions, it is not a replacement for these efforts, which have a narrower focus and more specific aims. In particular, general status assessments do not replace comprehensive scientific evaluations by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) or provincial and territorial equivalents, which provide in-depth, targeted assessments of individual species that may be at risk. General status assessments also differ in methods and scope from bird conservation plans (e.g. Partners in Flight for landbirds; Canadian Shorebird Conservation Plan for shorebirds; and Wings Over Water for seabirds and colonial waterbirds), which have developed their own priority-setting systems tailored to their unique program objectives.
The following is a summary of some of the achievements of the Wild Species series. This series:
- integrates information on a large number and variety of Canada's wild species (11 950 species in 20 groups), including most vertebrates and all vascular plants that have been found in Canada. This allows comparison of general status between individual species, as well as comparison within and between groups of species, based on taxonomic or regional boundaries;
- alerts Canadians to species that may require attention to prevent their extinction, before the species reach a "critical condition." Early warning of a species in trouble increases the success and cost-effectiveness of conservation programs. General status assessments also help to prioritize which species are in most urgent need of a more detailed status assessment, additional management attention, or basic research into population size, distribution, threats or trends;
- updates the general status of the species that were assessed for the first time in the previous reports. This comparison highlights species whose general status is declining or improving, shows where information gaps have been filled, and where further information is still required;
- summarizes the identity and distribution of select non-native wild species (exotic species) across Canada. Few Canadians are aware of fauna and flora that are introduced, or the potential impacts of exotics on native species;
- identifies gaps in our knowledge about wild species in Canada. Directing resources and expertise towards filling these gaps is essential for a more accurate and comprehensive picture of the general status of Canadian wild species;
- establishes or enhances local networks of people with information to share about Canada's wild species. People identified during this process form part of a coordinated knowledge base critical to this, and future, Wild Species reports;
- shares information with Canadians about the diversity and general status of wild species across the country. Consolidating information about wild species in Canada lets everyone from schoolchildren to resource managers, farmers, and developers know what species are present in Canada and how they are doing.