Nymphalis antiopa endangered in Florida. Really?

I just saw that Nymphalis antiopa is considered to be imperiled S2 in the State of Florida. It makes no sense. It is even debatable if N antiopa can actually complete the life cycle in Florida.

This happens all over the country in States lying at the border of the distribution of one species (In the US many of their State’s borders are straight lines, which take it even more apart from biological reality)

In a species like this (an insect) with very healthy populations all over the country (at the right places) this denomination is even more out of place. Is anyone thinking that protecting N antiopa will result in an increase in the population of this species in Florida?

Who makes these determinations? Are any understanding of the biology of the species in consideration?

i also want to know why lippia stoechadifolia is considered introduced in florida. i flagged it but last i checked there was no update. i also wonder where the determinations come from

This one was made by Natureserve (you can see that on the Status tab on the species page). I’ve noticed a number of oddities in their determinations.

In this case, might there be a few areas on the northern edge of the panhandle where they can manage? Glassberg shows their range as including the panhandle.

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The state of Florida does not consider it a threatened or endangered species:

This document describes what was known about FL distribution and breeding:

A person entered data into NatureServe, and the resulting classification was S2 in Florida:

S2 means " Imperiled — At high risk of extirpation in the jurisdiction due to restricted range, few populations or occurrences, steep declines, severe threats, or other factors."

By noting that it is N5, G5, S2 (Florida), one gets a sense that it’s safe globally (N5), in the U.S. and Canada (G5), but at high risk in FL (S2). The value of this geographically tiered type of system, is that you get a more complete picture–and states on the border of their range can be aware of species that are at risk. If the edges of a species distributions weren’t monitored, then a species’ range could shrink down to nothing and no one would notice. How else would one go about monitoring species vulnerability at the level of states?

Now, Whether the S2 classification for this species for Florida is biologically justified I have no clue. A reassessment might find that it isn’t.

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As pointed out, this is an issue with a lot of species at the limits of their ranges in certain states, the boundaries of which are often (though not always) arbitrary when viewed in the context of biogeography.

I take two sorts of views. On one hand, if an otherwise fairly abundant/healthy species receives extra protection in an area close to its range edge, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Range edge populations may contain important genetic diversity, etc.

However, if a significant amount of limited conservation resources/$$$$ are put towards protecting/conserving populations of species that are rare in one state, but don’t have much actual conservation value to the species as a whole, I think this is a bad scenario. This does happen with some herps for instance in the US, and it’s a shame. Conserving those populations has little to no value to the species as a whole, and it’s almost certain those resources would have more impact used in some other way.

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I don’t think that NatureServe rankings trigger the automatic spending of state and federal money, so one would hope that state and federal wildlife biologists make wise, data-driven decisions on how their funds are spent. Though that may not always be the case.


I’m not aware of any state or federal funding decisions that are based on sources like NatureServe, IUCN, etc. While those entities are valuable for public awareness, I would consider their vulnerability classifications as mainly symbolic, academic, etc.


Yes, I wasn’t referring specifically to NatureServe rankings here - the question seemed to be more general to me, even though the specific example used a NatureServe ranking. For herps at least, there are multiple states (not going to call out any specifically on the forum…) that have species listed as endangered/threatened on their state lists that are rare as a consequence of natural range limits (to our best knowledge at least). I do worry even about any rankings like this (NatureServe, state, etc.), because they are often used in aggregate (ie, there are XXX number of endangered invertebrates in some geopolitical area). Those totals may not be the most reliable indicators if they are influenced by these types of designations.

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