I feel like status conservation priorities are reverted on iNat and i would like your opinions.
Currently higher geographical area status override local status. (such as : world > continent > countries > region)
So for exemple : if a taxa is listed as LC for a continent, this same taxa will be listed as LC for a region even if this taxa is listed as CR in this same region.
It leads to two problematic scenarios :
A species at higher geographical rank is threaten but at lower rank it is least-concerned.
In this scenario some non-sense occur, like Fraxinus excelsior being listed as NT and therefore threaten in France while it’s in the top 5 of the commonest plant in the country. Or some introduced species in countries are listed as endangered, because UICN world list status override countries status.
A species at higher geographical rank is least-concerned but at lower rank it is threated. Therefore automatic geoprivacy does not apply and taxa conservation status neither. What is problematic for some taxa, critical locally.
Shouldn’t local status conservation (and geoprivacy) override higher status conservation (and geoprivacy) ?
yes, and that is how it already works
For example, the leafy seadragon. Its global status is least concern, with locations set to be open. But the statuses for South Australia and Western Australia have been set to protected and priority 2 (idiosyncratic Australian statuses) and obscured. Check any observation from these two states, and you’ll see that the record is obscured
ok my bad for geoprivacy, but doesn’t work for status
For the status I would argue that global is always “more interesting” than local if only one status has to be displayed (obviously they are both interesting and important).
When a species is threatened globally but is doing fine in my region (e.g., 50% decline globally but luckily the population within my region is stable), I’m quite interested to know the global trends because it means the local population is super important and that I should keep an eye on trends (maybe we are just not aware that it’s declining locally). The conclusion is that I should monitor that species as much as possible.
Conversely, when a species is threatened locally but is doing ok globally, it sometimes just mean that my region is at the periphery of the species’ distribution and in some cases it may not be a huge deal if the species risk disappearing from that given administrative area.
So I would personally not prefer seeing the local status over the global status. My personal preference actually might to always see the worst conservation status: if the species is EN globally and LC locally I want to know it’s EN globally; if it’s the opposite I want to know it’s EN locally.
Just my personal view on the topic :)
Because this isn’t an issue specific to site curators, but more a question about the functional design of iNaturalist, I moved this to the General category.
I would be interested in knowing about an example of this situation. Seems like one of the two statuses would be questionable in a situation like this, and might need re-evaluation.
Since local conservation statuses often come with legal protections or implications, I’m thinking it might be more important to prioritize display of local status over global status.
But moreover, if iNat is prioritizing taxon geoprivacy in one way, then it would make sense to prioritize underlying conservation status in a parallel way.
It’s true that it’s less common to have a species more threatened globally than locally, but it happens. To give you an example, Little Bustard is NT globally because it has declined over the past decades, but not up to 30% so it does not qualify for threatened under criterion A2. As the assessment is detailing (https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/22691896/129913710#assessment-information), the declines were particularly strong in the West (European) part of the range. Therefore the European Red List states the species is VU. But then at local scales there are some places where the species is not declining so much (for instance in French regions PACA and Languedoc-Roussillon, the species was classified NT). And there are nothing wrong with these assessments: a species can be declining by >30% globally and be stable locally. The assessments mean different things.
Of course this reasoning works well for species assessed under criterion A on population decline, but not so well under criterion using geographical range size or population size (the local range / population cannot be bigger than the global range / population); although it can still theoretically happen with subcriteria such as fragmentation, continuing decline or extreme fluctuations (these could be triggered globally, making the species threatened globally, but not locally)
Regarding your comment on local conservation efforts, I know that the opposite is also true. Species that are threatened globally but are doing fine locally can also be targetted for conservation actions because the population is important. The little bustard (I think) is still a good example for this: the fact that it’s declining at national and european level contributes to motivating conservation actions at local scales even in regions where it’s classified as NT (so not declining too much) because we need those populations to protect the species.
In the end it totally depends on your conservation goals, but both approaches have value.
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