Applying IUCN Red List criteria to birds at different geographical scales: similarities and differences

Charra, M.  Sarasa, M. 


Extinction risk and conservation status of species are assessed at the global scale by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). To ensure objectivity, repeatability and traceability, assessments follow a standardized process that uses reliable and verifiable information. Assessments are synthesized according to guidelines, which have recently been adjusted for application at sub–global scales. Nevertheless, species may have several, different or overlapping conservation status. To quantitatively compare assessments from global to sub–national scales, in this study we analyzed 15 assessment lists for 66 game bird species in France. Assessments were declared to be made following IUCN guidelines. Overall, our results reveal that (1) assessments at large spatial scales tend to give lower threat status than small–scale assessments; (2) large–scale assessments made it possible to formally verify information whereas smaller–scale assessments usually did not; (3) large–scale assessments are more likely to be based on standardized evidence of reduction in population size and are less exposed to ‘scale–effects’ and ‘edge–effects’; (4) large–scale assessments are also more often based on scientific literature sensu stricto; and (5) sources are more accurately synthesized than red lists at small spatial scales. Our results suggest that small–scale red lists do not fully match IUCN guidelines and differ significantly in their assessment processes when compared to global standards. The use of subjective and unreliable data in small–scale red lists (above all in national and sub–national lists) may jeopardise the original aim of IUCN Red Lists to provide comprehensive and scientifically rigorous information, and could thus compromise the credibility and prestige of IUCN red lists in the eyes of researchers, the general public, and other stakeholders.

Key words

Biodiversity assessment, Game bird species, Conservation status, Information–based management, IUCN Red Lists, Regional assessment

Reception date: 8 X 16 | Acceptation date: 24 VII 17 | Publication date: 21 XI 17

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Index Volum 41.1 (2018)