Notes, definitions and guidelines
The attached documents contains all current definitions of Annex 5 to Resolution Conf. 9.24, newly proposed definitions and comments received in the beginning of April.
This document is available in English and Spanish.
The current definitions are included in small caps.
The newly proposed definitions are included in bold. Explanatory notes provided to these definitions are included in normal print.
Comments received are included in italics.
Comments received after 15 April will be made available in a separate document, but are in English only.
1. Area of distribution (Current definition in Annex 5)
Area of distribution is defined as the area contained within the shortest continuous imaginary boundary which can be drawn to encompass all the known, inferred or projected sites of occurrence, excluding cases of vagrancy (though inferring and projecting area of occurrence should be undertaken carefully, and in a precautionary manner). The area within the imaginary boundary should, however, exclude significant areas where the species does not occur, and so in defining area of distribution, account should be taken of discontinuities or disjunctions in the spatial distribution of species. For migratory species, the area of distribution is the smallest area essential at any stage for the survival of that species (e.g. colonial nesting sites, feeding sites, etc.). For some species in trade where data exist to make an estimate, a figure of less than 10,000 km2 has been found to be an appropriate guideline (not a threshold) of what constitutes a restricted area of distribution. However, this figure is presented only as an example, since it is impossible to give numerical values that are applicable to all taxa. There will be many cases where this numerical guideline does not apply
2A. Decline (Current definition in Annex 5)
A decline is a reduction in the number of individuals, or a decrease of the area of distribution, the causes of which are either not known or not adequately controlled. It need not necessarily still be continuing. Natural fluctuations will not normally count as part of a decline, but an observed decline should not be considered part of a natural fluctuation unless there is evidence for this. A decline that is the result of a harvesting programme that reduces the population to a planned level, not detrimental to the survival of the species, is not covered by the term ‘decline’.
For some species in trade where data exist to make an estimate, a decrease of 50% or more in total within 5 years or two generations, whichever is the longer, has been found to be an appropriate guideline (not a threshold) of what constitutes a decline. A guideline (not a threshold) of what constitutes a decline in a small wild population could be 20% or more in total within ten years or three generations, whichever is the longer. However, both these figures are presented only as examples, since it is impossible to give numerical values that are applicable to all taxa. There will be many cases where these numerical guidelines do not apply.
2B. Decline (USA)
A decline is a reduction in the numbers or biomass of a species. Decline can be expressed in two ways: the overall long-term extent of decline and/or the recent average annual rate of decline. The extent of decline will generally be more relevant to the need for a CITES listing than the rate of decline. A given historical extent of decline and/or a given terminal rate of decline is more worrisome for a low productivity species than it is for a high productivity species.
Extent of decline:
The historical extent of decline should be the ultimate criterion for considering a species for listing in the CITES Appendices. However, different baselines may be appropriate in different situations. Depending on the species under consideration, the baseline may relate to some point in history, or to the potential or ideal baseline given alterations to the environment that have affected current carrying capacity. Use of potential or ideal baselines reflect, respectively, the reality that habitat changes have occurred in the past, and the possibility that such changes may be reversible. However, if the potential baseline is very small due to dramatic reductions in the carrying capacity of the habitat over time, it then becomes necessary to ask whether the current carrying capacity is adequate to ensure survival of the species.
Within reasonable limits, it is not necessary to have a timeframe for the extent of decline.
However, the threshold extent of decline should be a function of the productivity of the species. For a very high productivity species (e.g. one with high fecundity and a rapid turnover of generations), consideration for listing in CITES Appendices might not be triggered until the species has declined to relatively low levels; for example, about 5% of the baseline. For a very low productivity species (e.g. one with low fecundity and a long period between generations), consideration for listing in CITES Appendices might be triggered at much higher levels of relative population size; for example, a decline to about 25% of the baseline level. For species between these two ends of the spectrum, the threshold percentage decline should be interpolated (see Figure 1 for an example based on generation time alone). The decline need not necessarily be continuing.
Rate of decline:
The rate of decline may also be important in several respects: for example, when a population has already experienced a large extent of decline; as a surrogate for the extent of decline; or as a general indicator of the urgency of the need for remedial action. In addition, an unplanned rapid rate of decline might be indicative of a rapid change in environment, or a disease attack, or competition with an invasive species. The rate of decline is only relevant if a decline is still occurring (i.e. the population has exhibited a declining trend over the last several years) or has the potential to resume. A given recent (5-10 year) rate of decline is more problematic for species with higher historical extents of decline and for species with lower productivity. Thus, the (recent) rate of decline generally needs to be combined with the (historical) extent of decline and species productivity3. A method for combining these three factors where species productivity is indexed only by generation time is depicted graphically in Figure 2 (provided as an example but not required to be reproduced in a listing proposal). Use of this graph would imply that the threshold for a species with a mean generation time of three years would be an average recent rate of decline of about 9.1% per annum if it had previously been reduced to about 50% of its baseline level, or about 1.8% per annum if reduced to 10% of its baseline level. The corresponding thresholds for a species with a mean generation time of 10 years would be about 4.3% per annum if the population had previously been reduced to 50% of its baseline level and about 0.9% per annum if reduced to 10% of its baseline level.
Figure 1. The threshold extent of decline as a function of productivity, where productivity is indexed by the inverse of the natural logarithm of generation time.
Figure 2. The threshold average annual rate of decline (expressed as a multiplier of the inverse of the natural logarithm of generation time) for various levels of extent of decline (%B0). The solid line bends towards the x-axis at low %B0, indicating threshold levels of depletion that are likely to be of concern regardless of the recent rate of decline. The dashed line indicates the range of extent of decline where one would not normally be concerned about the threat of extinction unless the average annual rate of decline was very rapid. The dotted lines indicate that the actual numeric values have uncertainty associated with them.
3. Extended period (Current definition in Annex 5)
The meaning of the term extended period will vary according to the biological characteristics of the species. Selection of the period will depend upon the observed pattern of natural fluctuations in the abundance of the species and on whether the number of specimens removed from the wild is consistent with a sustainable harvesting programme that is based on these natural fluctuations.
4. Fragmentation (Current definition in Annex 5)
Fragmentation refers to the case where most individuals within a taxon are found in small and relatively isolated sub-populations, which increases the probability that these small sub-populations will become extinct and the opportunities for re-establishment are limited. For some species in trade where data exist to make an estimate, an area of distribution of 500 km2 or less for each sub-population has been found to be an appropriate guideline (not a threshold) of what constitutes fragmentation. However, this figure is presented only as an example, since it is impossible to give numerical values that are applicable to all taxa. There will be many cases where this numerical guideline does not apply.
5A. GENERATION TIME (Greg Leach)
Current definition in Annex 5
Generation is measured as the average age of parents in the population; except in the case of species that breed only once a lifetime, this will always be longer than the age of maturity.
IUCN Draft recommendations
Generation (length) time reflects the turnover rate of breeding individuals in a population i.e. the average age of parents of the current cohort (.e.g. newborn individuals in the population). Generation length is greater than the age at first breeding, except in taxa that breed only once (annuals/ephemerals). Where generation length varies under threat, the more natural i.e. pre-disturbance, generation length should be used. Generation length can be estimated in many ways.
The definition of generation time has received considerable discussion within IUCN, in particular relating to long-lived species such as trees and the variability of generation length under different environmental conditions or harvest regimes.
The problems occur not so much with the definition but when generation time is actually used in criteria, particularly to set threshold values. This has resulted in suggestions for capping the maximum value of generation time in criteria. In marine species it has been suggested that the timeframe for decline criteria should actually be inversely related to generation time.
The IUCN definition provided above appears workable. The real issues for CITES is how is it used in the criteria.
The following comments relate to some thoughts on application of the definition to plant species.
· At what stage do we identify the "current cohort"? Problems arise if we count seedlings as the new cohort. Taxa with long-lived seed banks may germinate long after parent/s have died making estimates of the average age of parents a bit pointless. Similarly with species that typically have episodic recruitment after death of parents e.g. after bushfires. Generation length can also be highly variable if we count seedlings as the new cohort as again seed-bank longevity and seed dormancy can lead to quite variable generation lengths. Perhaps the average age of individuals that set viable seed should be measured. i.e. measure time to seed or propagule production as generation time in some species.
· How will generation length deal with clonal individuals as " new cohorts"? Bulbules for example might be identifiable and counted as new individuals but rhizomatous plants such as some of the sedges and grasses are more complicated. Mat forming species would be effectively impossible to count. A sexually produced seedling may subsequently spread rhizomatously. Is a new generation produced once the vegetatively produced individuals are capable of independent existence – or only when these have subsequently seeded? In cases where vegetative reproduction may be the main form of growth, generation length based on sexual reproduction maybe difficult to quantify and once quantified a poor time scale over which to monitor population changes.
Comments of the USA
The above comments arise because of the expectation that generation time should be fixed. This is an unreasonable assumption. For trees, for example, a pragmatic use of generation time should include both 1) the time required for a seedling to reach the canopy, and 2) the reproductive schedule of individuals once they reach the canopy (i.e., do they seed immediately or only mast-fruit; how long do seeds remain in the seed bank, etc.). Rather than setting a quantitative threshold, perhaps recommendations can be made to include these parameters.
For asexual reproduction, a preferable measure of generation time would be the time from independence of the parents (via asexual reproduction) to independence of their asexually produced offspring. It would be improper to merely use the time from production (via asexual reproduction) of the offspring to their independence. Generation time must include the average time from their independence to the asexual reproduction of their offspring.
The last sentence of the proposed definition can be deleted. An alternative could be to add to the current definition: ‘Mean generation time can also be measured as the average time between the birth of an individual and the birth of one of its own offspring’.
We need to have an improved definition of cohort if it is to be used in the criteria (although we recognize that it is a standard term that shouldn’t need defining).
5b. Generation time (USA)
There are several ways of measuring mean generation time. One common method is the average age of parents in the population. Except in the case of species that breed only once a lifetime, this will always be longer than the age at maturity. Within taxonomic groups, long mean generation time is usually correlated with low productivity. However, the correlation may not hold when making comparisons across taxonomic groupings, due to the diversity of combinations of life history characteristics. Mean generation times are more appropriate as ingredients of rebuilding or recovery plans rather than decline criteria. If all else is equal, a given average annual rate of decline will result in more rapid depletion of a low productivity species than a high productivity species. The reason is that the high productivity species will replenish itself faster. For the same reason, a large decline from one year to the next would be more worrisome for a low productivity species than for a high productivity species. Thus, contrary to common usage, the timeframe for decline criteria should actually be inversely related to mean generation time, as it is in the examples given in Figures 1 and 2. Although it may be reasonable to index productivity by some function of the inverse of generation time, it may be preferable to use other metrics which relate more directly to productivity, even though these may require more data to calculate; for example, the intrinsic rate of natural increase.
Comments from John Donaldson (PC, Africa)
The problem with generation time can be resolved to some extent by looking at the reason for including it in the first place. It is really there to give some indication of different life history responses with the underlying assumption that a large decline in one generation (? breeding event) is likely to have a greater impact than an equivalent decline over several generations. The IUCN have not taken differences in recovery into consideration and this is what Pamela Mace was worried about, i.e. overall decline may be more important than rate of decline because long-lived species generally have slower recovery rates than short lived species.
If we accept the reason for having generation time, then one of the ways of estimating generation length for episodic recruiters would be the average interval between recruitment events (e.g. average fire interval). The same could be true for other forms of dormancy linked to rainfall or other events. The IUCN definition sort of covers this by saying that 'generation time can be estimated in many ways" but I think it would be helpful to be more explicit.
As you say, clonal reproduction is also difficult but as far as I know plants usually reach a certain age before they produce offsets. One potential problem is that clonal reproduction takes place often at a younger age than sexual reproduction. This means that an emphasis on clonal reproduction will lead to a much shorter generation time - will this be a problem?
6. Large fluctuations (Current definition in Annex 5)
Large fluctuations occur in a number of species where the population size or area of distribution varies widely, rapidly and frequently, with a variation greater than one order of magnitude. For some species in trade where data exist to make an estimate, a figure of two years or less has been found to be an appropriate guideline (not a threshold) of what constitutes a short-term fluctuation. However, this figure is presented only as an example, since it is impossible to give numerical values that are applicable to all taxa. There will be many cases where this numerical guideline does not apply.
7. marine organism (Doug Butterworth)
A plant or animal that spends the greater part of its life in the marine environment".
Possible problems - "the greater" could be replaced by "an important" or "a substantial" (I don't like "a significant" because of its statistical connotations)?
Comment Secretariat. Doug Butterworth correctly noted that would categorize a seabird as a marine organism. This problem can partly be resolved by changing ‘spends in’ to ‘depends on’. Perhaps the following text would come more closer.
"A plant or animal that for the greater part of its life lives in and depends on the marine environment."
Comments from the USA
While we do not disagree with this definition, we do not believe that it is necessary to define it in the criteria. The CITES Convention covers all species, whether aquatic (freshwater or marine) or terrestrial, and as such no definition is necessary. Seabirds are marine organisms
8. MATURE INDIVIDUALS (Greg Leach)
There is no existing definition in Annex 5.
A related definition would be that of "population" which is measured as the total number of individuals. There is no distinction of the number or proportion of individuals that are able to reproduce.
The following definition is taken from the IUCN draft recommendations:
The number of mature individuals is defined as the number of individuals known, estimated or inferred to be capable of producing offspring that reach reproductive age.
When estimating this quantity the following points should be borne in mind.
· Where the population is characterised by natural fluctuations use a lower estimate. In most cases this will be much less than the mean.
· Mature individuals that cannot produce recruits should not be counted (e.g. densities are too low for fertilization, or reproductive conditions are not met.)
· This measure is intended to count individuals capable of reproduction and should therefore exclude individuals that are environmentally and behaviourally or otherwise reproductively suppressed in the wild.
· In the case of populations with biased adult or breeding sex ratios it is appropriate to use lower estimates for the number of individuals which take this into account (e.g. estimated effective population size)
· Reproducing units within a clone should be counted as individuals, except where such units are unable to survive alone.
· In the case of taxa that naturally lose all or a subset of mature individuals at some point in their life cycle, the estimate should be made at the appropriate time, when mature individuals are available for breeding.
Important aspects relating to plants that need to be covered:
- plant life cycles that have a dependency on an animal vector at some stage. This would include a specific frugivore that disperses the seed (e.g. mistletoe bird for mistletoe dispersal) or a highly specific pollinator (e.g. wasps and orchids). These situations appear to be covered in the definition and under dot points 2 and 3.
- plant life cycles that have a dependency on some ecological event such as fire to break seed dormancy. Dot point 3 appears to cover the contingency where ecological disruption prevents breeding.
- Dioecious species that have unequal sex ratios. Appears to be covered under dot point 4. Also obligate outcrossers e.g. pin & thrum flowers.
- Vegetative reproduction can cause difficulties in defining an individual. The definition makes no distinction between sexual or asexual reproduction nor does it make any distinction for species that may reproduce in both modes. As defined an individual capable of either or both modes of reproduction would be counted as mature. This appears practical. Dot point 5 provides guidance that vegetative units would only be counted as individuals once they have reached a stage capable of independent existence. In some instances the actual physical count of individuals may be difficult e.g. a field of grass with all individuals interconnected by stolons, but each unit capable of independent growth.
- Apomixis appears covered in the definition.
- Annuals and monocarpic species are covered by the last dot point.
- Use of the term "offspring" – in plants would this equate to propagules?
Comments from John Donaldson (PC, Africa)
I agree that the concerns for plants are dealt with by the various dot points included in the IUCN definition.
Comments from the USA
As was discussed at the Joint meeting of the Animals and Plants Committees in December 2000 (and on which there was broad agreement), the current version of Annex 1 of Conf. 9.24 is preferable, which refers to the "appropriate life history phase" (usually the mature phase, but not always), rather than restricting the application of criteria only to mature individuals in all cases.
It might also be preferable to use the concept of "effective population size" instead of "number of mature individuals". It would also be more general to a broad range of taxa and life histories. However, we do not disagree with the IUCN concepts that pertain to mature individuals.
9. NEAR FUTURE (Secretariat)
‘Near future’ needs to be defined in terms of a measurable period. This could be a figure of five years (as used in the current Criterion D of Annex 1 to Resolution Conf. 9.24) or a number of intervals between meetings of the Conference of the Parties (Paragraph B. of Annex4.) the latter period is variable, and the Secretariat therefore proposes to define ‘near future’ as:
Any time within a period of five years following the meeting of the Conference of the Parties where the status of the species concerned is discussed.
Less then five years following the date mentioned.
Comments from USA
We do not agree with the need to define the term "near future". The concept of "near future" is exceedingly species-specific. We also do not concur with the definition as proposed. For a very long-lived species, five years may not be "near future", nor would it be appropriate in the context of the criteria in Annexes 1 and 2. For species with short generation times, five years may be too long to be considered "near future". The concept of five years in Annex 4 pertains to an appropriate precautionary interval, and is a different concept.
10. OVER-EXPLOITATION (Doug Butterworth)
A population is in a state of biological over-exploitation when its abundance has been reduced below the level which, on average, provides the greatest net rate of productivity (in absolute, as distinct from per capita terms);
A population is being biologically over-exploited when both its abundance is below the level which, on average, provides the greatest net rate of productivity, and the rate of harvest exceeds the rate which is, on average, sustainable for the population's current level of abundance.
Note: One needs the "biological" to distinguish from the different concept of "economic over-exploitation", and the "on average" to cover for natural variability (though what I've suggested isn't water-tight, as strictly one would need to distinguish short-term variations from longer-term/"regime-shift" changes (i.e. some linkage to generation time in regard to the period over which the average is taken). I've expressed what are essentially maximum sustainable yield and sustainable yield as rates to avoid having to state a time unit. The parenthetical piece re "absolute" and "per capita" is to avoid the frequent confusion of production by the population as a whole with production on a per-individual basis. Instead of "sustainable" (which begs another definition), one might like to stick with the current Appendix II equivalent of "can be continued in perpetuity". Some might prefer "abundance" or "size"?
Comments from the USA
While these definitions are interesting, and quite good, we do not believe that over-exploitation needs to be defined, or that defining it here will assist the CITES Parties. A preferable definition would be (however): over-exploitation occurs when harvest decreases population growth to below replacement; i.e., negative population growth rate that occurs when deaths (natural and from harvest) plus emigration exceeds births plus immigration.
We do not believe that we should use the term "sustainable" here, or attempt to define it in the criteria.
These definitions argue for maximum sustainable yield (MSY) considerations, which I do not believe we should be the basis for the CITES listing criteria. The concept is certainly valid in some contexts, but we do not believe that the Parties should utilize the concept in the listing criteria. We would be glad to discuss this further at the meeting of the Criteria Working Group.
11. POPULATION (Secretariat)
We propose to maintain the current text, which is as follows:
Population is measured as the total number of living individuals of the species (as defined in Article I of the Convention). In the case of species biologically dependent on other species for all or part of their life cycles, biologically appropriate values for the host species should be chosen.
12. POPULATION SIZE (Secretariat)
Owing to differences in life forms, population size is measured as numbers of mature individuals only. In the case of taxa biologically dependent on other taxa for all or part of their life cycles, biologically appropriate values for the host taxon should be used.
This text is taken from the IUCN criteria. The CITES definition further contains a guideline for determining a small population.
For some species in trade where data exist to make an estimate, a figure of less than 5000 individuals has been found to be an appropriate guideline (not a threshold) of what constitutes a small wild population. However, this figure is presented only as an example, since it is impossible to give numerical values that are applicable to all taxa. There will be many cases where this numerical guideline does not apply.
The Criteria Working Group should consider whether the current figure of 5000 individuals needs to be modified in view of the use of mature individuals in the definition of population size.
Comments from the USA
We believe that the concept of "effective population size" is more relevant, and more valid in terms of population biology, than "mature individuals". We recommend inclusion of the concept of effective population size (both in the definitions in Annex 5 and in the body of the listing criteria resolution), using this definition:
Effective population size is the number of individuals in a population that actually reproduce. The effective population size is usually lower than the total population size or total number of adult individuals for a number of reasons including: (1) the sex ratio is not 1:1; for example, in a monogamous species a population with 100 breeding males and 400 females, only 100 of the females can actually reproduce; (2) unequal family size (i.e., the number of offspring produced by each breeding adult is not the same); for example, polygamous species in which only a few dominant males reproduce, thus making a greater genetic contribution to the next generation; or (3) age-related differences in fecundity.
We recommend deletion of the paragraph on small populations from the definitions in Annex 5. What constitutes a small population, or a small effective population size, is inherently species- and life history-dependent. Although there is a caveat that this figure is only a guideline, we believe that it can easily be misconstrued, and a scientific evaluation of the status of a species and any listing proposal would be better without this figure.
13. Possibly extinct (Current definition in Annex 5)
A species is presumed extinct when exhaustive surveys in known and/or suspected habitat, and at appropriate times (diurnal, seasonal, annual), throughout its historic range have failed to record an individual. Before a species can be declared possibly extinct, surveys should take place over a time frame appropriate to the species' life cycle and life form.
14. Recruitment (USA)
Introduction or the production of new individuals into a population by either sexual (combination of gametes or reproductive cells) or asexual (e.g., ramets, budding, fragmentation) reproduction. Changes in recruitment may be the result of changes in fecundity (i.e., number of offspring produced) and/or age structure (i.e., proportion of individuals belonging to the various age classes) in a population. In general, declining populations will show a decrease in fecundity, decrease in survivorship of younger pre-reproductive individuals, increase in the proportion of older post-reproductive individuals, and/or decrease in number of younger pre-reproductive individuals.
Comments from USA
First line: Insert ‘into a demographic class of’ after ‘individuals’ and delete ‘into’
Fifth line: Insert ‘, or changes in the total number of mature individuals producing recruits’ after ‘population’
Sixth line: Insert ‘and number’ after ‘survivorship’
Delete the last line and add: ‘(although this is not the case for all species subject to density-dependent effects)’
15. Reproductive potential (USA)
Reproductive potential is the reproductive capacity or output, and is the average number of offspring that remain to be produced by (e.g., seed production, egg production, births) each individual at a given age. For some animal species, removal from a population of older post-reproductive individuals will not impact the growth rate of a population as they already have produced all their offspring. On the other hand, removal of individuals that have not or have just reached reproductive age will result in a decline in the growth rate of the population. For some plant (and animal) species, the reproductive potential or capacity is correlated with size, vigor, and the fitness of an individual. For plants, reproductive potential is the fitness of an individual plant (along with other factors) that determines reproductive success.
Comments from USA
The last sentence can be deleted as it is redundant.
16A. Reproductive success (USA)
For the purposes of this resolution, reproductive success is defined as any measure of the fecundity, heterozygosity, genetic variability, or intrinsic growth rate within or among populations.
Comments from USA
Delete ‘heterozygosity, genetic variability, or intrinsic growth rate within or among’
16B. Reproductive success (Greg Leach)
There is no definition of the term in the current Annex 5 nor has IUCN found it necessary to define it in their extensive review if the IUCN criteria. I offer the following:
Reproductive success of an individual or population is a measure of the number of individuals that make it to reproductive maturity from one generation to the next. It is the extent of realisation of the reproductive potential.
The actual measurement for plants would take into account fecundity (seed set or vegetative capacity) and seedling survival.
For plants it is going to be a difficult parameter to measure, particularly in long-lived and clonal species. There will be difficulties with long-lived seeds in a seed bank where germination from one seeding event may occur over an extended period of time. Healthy seed banks from older generations may mask declines in reproductive success due to losses such as from harvesting.
It would seem predictable that in most instances real data will be lacking and the term will be used in a qualitative sense e.g. high or low, increasing or decreasing reproductive success. Inference and/or surrogate data will probably play a bigger role than actual measurement. For example, reproductive success has decreased because feral herbivores have increased with subsequent increased grazing pressure on seedlings.
Comments from John Donaldson (PC, Africa)
I wonder if we need to define this. It strikes me as a very difficult parameter to quantify. In many of the plants I have been working on, the relationship between seed production and recruitment is one of the most difficult areas to monitor and is often confounded by density dependent factors. I cannot remember where reproductive success occurs in the criteria but some of the problems are dealt with under the definition of mature individuals (i.e. if very few adults actually reproduce, then the number of mature individuals will be small).
17. SPECIES (Secretariat)
At the joint meeting it was suggested that the term ‘species’ might need further defining. Having carefully studied the current definition in paragraph (a) of Article I of the Convention the Secretariat believes, however, that there is no such need.
The text of that paragraph reads as follows:
‘Species’ means any species, subspecies or geographically separate population thereof.
Species and subspecies clearly refer to the biological concept of a species, and does not require any further definition.
‘Geographically separate population’ refers to parts of a species or a subspecies, within particular geographical delimitations which the Conference of the Parties has clearly taken to include geopolitical delimitations. This term also covers the ‘stocks’ traditionally used in fisheries.
It is in this context that the word species is used in all CITES documents, although we recognize that the problem is the use of the term species (CITES context) being defined as species (biological context). Any attempt to further define ‘species’ might create confusion, or even conflict with the text of the Convention. However, one possibility to differentiate between the two concepts is every time when the word species is used exclusively in its biological context, it be referred to as ‘species’ and explained on the first occasion with a footnote.
Comment from FAO (Kevern Cochrane)
An important comment relates to the suggestion that the definition of species remains unchanged. Two arguments are presented for this. The one is that such a change could cause confusion and I cannot comment on that argument as it relates to CITES procedures and processes and is therefore for CITES to decide on. The second argument, however, suggests that there is no need to change it, with an implication that it is sound as it stands. Here I must disagree and refer to the recommendation of the FAO Technical Consultation which drew attention to the need to reconcile the terminology relating to species, populations and related terms with more common usage, particularly that customary in fisheries. The current definition states (taken from the attached definitions) "'Species' means any species, subspecies or geographically separate population thereof." And thereby clearly confuses biological definitions and "geopolitical delimitations" and hence gives rise to the problems referred to by FAO. Having said that, the suggestion that a distinction could be made between the CITES definition of a species and the biological definition of a species, e.g. through the use of inverted commas, would be useful, provided it was rigorously adhered to. It amounts to creating a new term (I won't provoke argument by putting forward an opinion as to which one is the new term) which appears to be what is required.
Comments from USA
We agree with the Secretariat’s views on this issue. Species does not need to be defined
18. STRATEGY, r- and K
These two terms do not require the drafting of new text. The definitions will be those available in standard references and in common use in population biology. These will be provided later.
Comments from the USA
We can concur that the concepts of r- and K-strategy do not need to be defined. However, we believe that the concept should be included in any definition or notes that deal with vulnerability, extent of decline, etc. Please refer to our proposed definitions of define decline and vulnerability.
19. Sub-populations (Current definition in Annex 5)
Sub-populations are defined as geographically or otherwise distinct groups in the population between which there is little exchange. For some species in trade where data exist to make an estimate, a figure of less than 500 individuals has been found to be an appropriate guideline (not a threshold) of what constitutes a very small sub-population. However, this figure is presented only as an example, since it is impossible to give numerical values that are applicable to all taxa. There will be many cases where this numerical guideline does not apply.
20. Threatened with extinction (Current definition in Annex 5)
Threatened with extinction is defined by Annex 1. The vulnerability of a species to threats of extinction depends on its population demographics, biological characteristics, such as body size, trophic level, life cycle, breeding structure or social structure requirements for successful reproduction, and vulnerability due to aggregating habits, natural fluctuations in population size (dimensions of time and magnitude), residency/migratory patterns. This makes it impossible to give numerical values for population size or area of distribution that are applicable to all taxa.
21. Vulnerability (USA)
Vulnerability can be defined as the susceptibility of a species to over-exploitation or, conversely, the inverse of the capacity of a species to recover from overexploitation (i.e. the inverse of resilience). In general, low productivity species are more vulnerable or susceptible to exploitation than are high productivity species. Low productivity species (often referred to as "K-selected" species) are those that have one or a combination of long generation times, slow growth rates, or low fecundity; high productivity species (often referred to as "r-selected" species) have the reverse characteristics3. K-selected species generally have lower resilience to exploitation because they are unable to rebound as quickly. There are also several additional risk factors that cannot easily be incorporated into a generic risk evaluation because they are applicable only to specific taxonomic groups or in specific cases. Such factors include population density (especially for sessile or semi-sessile species that rely on air, water or other vectors to disperse and mix spawning products), migration, endemism, habitat specificity, dietary specificity, and symbiotic relationships. These and other factors may increase (or decrease) the risks to the species, and may therefore necessitate appropriate modification to any thresholds suggested in these guidelines. Vulnerability must be taken into account when evaluating a species against the criteria in this resolution.
22. affected by trade
A species "is or may be affected by trade" if:
i) it is known to be in trade; or
ii) it is probably in trade, but conclusive evidence is lacking; or
iii) there is potential international demand for specimens; or
iv) it would probably enter trade were it not subject to Appendix-I controls;
Explanation: This paragraph has been removed from the operational section [paragraph b) under the second RESOLVE]) and incorporated in Annex 5 because it concerns definitions. Paragraph iv) is deleted because it concerns a listing criterion, and is not a definition of a species "that is or may be in trade".
i) it is known to be in trade, and that trade has a detrimental impact on the status of the species; or
Explanation: The wording of former paragraph i) is improved in accordance with suggestions from the CWG and discussions in the joint meeting.
ii) it is suspected to be in trade, or there is potential international demand for the species that may be detrimental to its conservation.
Explanation: The former paragraphs ii) and iii) have been incorporated into this paragraph which addresses instances in which conclusive evidence of trade in the species is lacking but suspected to exists, and in which potential trade or the international demand may be detrimental to the conservation of the species. The new text is based on recommendations from the CWG and discussions in the joint meeting.
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