With the number of endangered species increasing and budgets for protection remaining inadequate, there is an urgent need to judiciously prioritize management. Some potential approaches include prioritizing based on threat, uniqueness (i.e., full species prioritized before subspecies) or endemicity. Here, we use Canada as a case study to test whether management under the national Species at Risk Act prioritizes endemic and globally at risk species, versus subspecies and populations of globally secure species. Canada is an ideal case study because it is a large country with many species that are at the northern edge of their ranges, but others that are globally at risk endemics. We show that Canada does a poor job of prioritizing globally at risk and endemic full species. Only a small proportion of species listed have legally required ‘Action Plans’ for management, and this proportion is not significantly greater for globally at risk species. In addition, reptiles, amphibians, mammals and fish are more likely to be managed as subspecies or populations compared to other taxa, possibly due to greater differentiation among populations, bias in research toward charismatic or economically-valued taxa, or to allow continuation of economic activities that threaten portions of species’ habitats. Given the limited resources being allocated to conserving species at risk of extinction, we suggest that full, endemic threatened species for which host nations bear sole responsibility must be the highest priority, and that globally threatened species should also be given high priority.

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Environmental Science and Policy
Department of Biology

Raymond, C.V. (Calla V.), Wen, L. (Lina), Cooke, S.J, & Bennett, J.R. (2018). National attention to endangered wildlife is not affected by global endangerment: A case study of Canada's species at risk program. Environmental Science and Policy, 84, 74–79. doi:10.1016/j.envsci.2018.03.001