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CREO's Publication and Database Initiative

Published extinction data, by being publicly accessible, can be carefully scrutinized, tested, and reviewed. Moreover, published data have already undergone some degree of professional review and assessment of reliability. Thus, CREO recognizes that published information should be the principal route for disseminating extinction evidence, and references to this evidence should be provided in any analysis of a species' extinction.

Yet, recent extinctions of species are rarely addressed as a primary issue in research papers because there is no publication route specifically designed to serve this purpose. Therefore, much of the relevant information on extinctions is very difficult to locate in the literature, and some extinction data are not published at all, but exist only within the notes of experts working in the field.

If there were several venues specifically designed for the publication of extinction-related information, then:

  • there would be an increased amount of pertinent extinction information available,
  • extinction data would be more easily located in the literature, and data collection and analysis could become more expedient in the future,
  • the content and quality of extinction data would be standardized.

Publication Initiatives

We are looking for funding and/or venues to support these publications:

  • CREO - IBOY Book Project
    A proposal by CREO and Systematics Agenda 2000 International to produce a new survey of recently extinct species has been accepted as part of DIVERSITAS 2001 program: International Biodiversity Observation Year (IBOY). This volume will present extinction data that have been reviewed critically according to a CREO-developed extinction criteria and categories. It will therefore be the most comprehensive and reliable reference book available on recent extinctions.

  • The Extinction Forum
    We would like to develop a serial publication, or a regular column in an existing publication, that would become the recognized route for the collection and dissemination of any newdata on extinctions, ranging from minor notes on the presence or absence of a species as noted by recent fieldwork, to the election of species to extinction categories. By monitoring data from this publication we could quickly and accurately update extinction lists with the new information.

  • Recently Extinct Species
    This series, or regular column, would allow authors to provide a comprehensive summary of information pertaining to one particular extinct species.
    (See Example!)

  • Mortal Remains
    The catalog series, Mortal Remains, would be specifically designed to list the location of all known remains of extinct species preserved in collections of museums, academic or research institutions, and private collections.
    (See Example!)

Database Initiatives

CREO's planned publications are designed to streamline the process of data collection and provide a system for thorough and reliable data capture. In this way, all extinction information gathered through CREO publications could easily be incorporated into a database.

Our priority is to develop a database that includes species information and an associated bibliography, however, all of the information components described below would be useful to incorporate in a searchable database:

  • Species Information
    Fields representing information-level design should include: hierarchical taxonomic designations, species name and systematic history, common names, extinction status, type locality, geographic descriptors, ecosystem descriptors, former distribution, sampling history, extinction causes, extinction date, diagnosis, notes on related species and threat status, history of collection/observation, information compilers, and notes.
  • Mortal Remains Information
    Fields representing information-level design should include: museum name, museum location, type status, registry numbers, collection date, collection locality, collector, identifier, condition, size, loan/use policy, preparation, age class, and notes.

  • Bibliographic Information All bibliographic information pertaining to recent species' extinctions that is collected through the CREO research program should be incorporated into the database. Users should be able to search by author, date, and a variety of subject descriptors.

  • Image Information
    Fields representing information-level design should include: depicted image, image source, photo or drawing, and use policy.

A database on recent extinctions built from data compiled through the CREO research program would represent a central repository and resource that would be unrivalled in terms of scope, detail, and practical value. Information in the database would be constantly maintained and updated, and peer-reviewed for accuracy, so that it would provide an essential resource to scientists, policy-makers, and educators with an interest in biodiversity issues. Furthermore, this database (and the CREO publications from which the database is derived) would provide a focus for the interaction of taxonomists, ecologists, conservation biologists, and anthropologists whose research is related to extinction processes.

Accessing the CREO Extinctions Database

Presently, the CREO Extinctions Database consists of two separate lists for mammals and fish only. Additional lists are under construction and will be added when they become available.

The databases can be accessed on line via Web browser or email.

The extinctions databases exists in the form of tab delimited files which can be downloaded and imported into any standard Unix, Windows or Macintosh database or spreadsheet application. The data in the files are contained in 31 separate fields and, once imported, can be searched and/or sorted according to any field.

The fields can be grouped in many different ways, depending on what sort of search you are interested in making. Here is one convenient grouping, which should help in answering some of the commoner questions people ask about extinct species: What is the technical (taxonomic ) information on the species? Where did this species live? How is it known that the species is extinct?

Taxonomic Information on Species

(Answers these questions: What is the species’ valid name? Does it have a common name? Where is it located within the taxonomic hierarchy? Who described the species, and what other names [synonyms] exist for it?)

Common names
Species reference
Taxonomic status
Synonym of valid taxon

Distributional and Collection Information on Species

(Answers these questions: Where did the species formerly live, and what was its habitat like? How many specimens of this species are there? What other information is available on this species?)

Habitat documentation
Habitat notes
Former distribution
Former distribution comments
Island vs mainland
History of collection
Specimens in collections

Extinction Status of Species

(Answers these questions: Is the species extinct according to CREO criteria? If it is judged to be extinct, what CREO criteria were used to determine this, and how good is the assessment? How does the IUCN classify the extinction status of this species? Who saw or collected the "last" specimen, and when did that happen? Is it known or surmised how the species become extinct? Has anyone looked for it recently, and what was the result?)

CREO status
CREO status justification
EED (estimated extinction date)
EED reference
EED notes
EED basis
IUCN 2000
AEC (alleged extinction cause)
AEC reference
Survey information

Click here to download the CREO Extinctions Database.xls files.

CREO List of Mammal Extinctions since AD 1500
by Ross MacPhee and Clare Flemming
Department of Mammalogy
American Museum of Natural History

CREO List of Fish Extinctions since AD 1500
by Ian J. Harrison and Melanie L.J. Stiassny
Department of Ichthyology
American Museum of Natural History

Database Designer
Rolf Levenbach
Department of Education
American Museum of Natural History

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