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CREO Spring Workshop: May 15 and 16, 1999

Workshop Sponsors

The CREO spring workshop was funded by:

  • Center for Environmental Research and Conservation (CERC) at Columbia University

  • Center for Biodiversity and Conservation (CBC) at the American Museum of Natural History

  • Objective of the Workshop

    The purpose of the workshop was to develop a system of criteria and categories that can be used to assess evidence for extinction across major taxonomic groups.

    Why is it Important to Accomplish this Objective?

    If we do not all agree on how we analyze evidence in order to confirm extinctions, "extinction" will mean something different to everyone, and resulting surveys of extinct species will be inconsistent. However, determining uniform criteria to use for assessing extinction evidence across all taxa can be complicated, because differences in the biology and ecology of different taxonomic groups can significantly affect the way that the group is sampled and the way its population dynamics are monitored. In other words, criteria that are appropriate to apply for some taxa may not be necessary for others.

    Workshop Strategy and Agenda

    We have already developed prototype criteria and categories for analyzing fish and mammal extinctions. We sent information about these criteria and categories out to all CREO Advisory Panels, along with a feasibility survey that asked specific questions about how these criteria would need to be refined and adapted to apply to other taxonomic groups.

    Results from the Feasibility Surveys have been compiled, and these results have indicated what issues will require discussion at the workshop. The workshop agenda was developed from the responses to the surveys, and was designed to tackle the most pertinent issues that were raised.

    Take a look at:

  • Responses to the Feasibility Survey

  • Workshop Agenda

  • Specific issues discussed at the workshop include:

    1. Species Concepts: What units should we count?

    2. What evidence indicates that a species is extinct?

    3. What evidence allows us to establish an extinction date?

    (For the second and third issue, our objective was to develop a system of criteria for acceptable evidence that has some flexibility. The system should allow for certain criteria to be acceptable in some cases but not necessarily all, reflecting differences in how reliably different species or different taxa can be detected (i.e. species/taxa that are easily sampled/identified vs. those that are rare/cryptic).


    Because of space and budget constraints, we were only able to invite the chairs (or other representatives) for each panel for animal taxa (Amphibia, Aves, Coleoptera, Crustacea, Lepidoptera, Mammalia, Mollusca, Pisces, Reptilia), and three representatives for plant taxa. Representatives from the World Conservation Monitoring Centre, the Species Survival Commission, and The Nature Conservancy also attended. (See the agenda for more information about specific speakers and presentations.)

    Take a look at the Results of the Workshop.

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