Threatened Isopoda at risk of extreme over-collection: what degree of protection should be implemented?

Sorry for the double post.

The invertebrate pet trade has recently (in the past two years) grown into quite a large isopod hobby with around 50,000-100,000 people interested in rare and exotic isopod species. This is great for isopod research and conservation; however, a large number of people are only interested in how many species they can collect (Gotta catch 'em all!). I have seen an alarming amount of people using iNaturalist observations to aid in the collection of these species, as an example, the native species Venezillo arizonicus which has a small range and is threatened by habitat destruction has been collected over 20 times in the past year based on iNaturalist data. Most populations of this species are restricted to moist burrows in their desert environment, when collectors locate these burrows they usually collect the entire population (50-100 individuals). Since most invertebrates do not have conservation statutes they are not protected by law. My question is how much protection (obscuring the observations) should we implement to protect these species and how would this affect the data quality? The entire family Armadillidae except for less than 10 species are at risk, in response should we obscure the entire family except for those 10 species or only select species?


We tend to err on the side of not obscuring populations because knowing their locations can contribute to conservation, but if you’re pretty sure access to iNat data is contributing to a substantial decline in the species, obscuring is appropriate.

I would only obscure supraspecific taxa that entirely contain children that would be obscured. You can’t obscure a family without automatically obscuring every species in the family. Can you obscure genera or some other rank instead? And are these global statuses, or just local?

Ultimately I’d recommend putting this all on a flag and discussing specifics with top IDers and observers as well as people who might know about conservation of these animals. Those discussions can then be referenced in any statuses added.


this discussion should definitely be on a flag on iNat, but out of curiosity first;

I’m very interested in how you can possibly know this; how did you get access to these data?


I’m a fellow lover of invertebrates and keen on conservation, but also reading this post i’m completely skeptical of the number of afficionados and the threat you’ve suggested - for the species you name, just from iNat data alone seems to have a range greater than 500 km2, that’s absolutely massive compared to some threatened inverts that i know, and i expect really short generation time in comparision. Of course we shouldnt really compare taxa for what is ‘more threatened’ versus not, and i understand that so many inverts are understudied for their actual conservation needs, but my initial view here is skeptisism, help me out?


I am in an isopod hobby group chat made up of the leaders of the hobby; therefore, I can see that when an individual collects a species based on iNaturalist data, I was invited due to my taxonomic knowledge. I am also on many forms that discuss Isopoda. As for the species status, I have surveyed the population (yet to be published) I also had a long discussion with Jonathan Wright (before his passing).


Venezillo arizonicus comprises two distinct populations which need to be revised as separate species the California population (White Venezillo arizonicus) and the Arizona population (gray Venezillo arizonicus) both restricted to around 250 km2 still quite a large range as you mentioned for a threatened invert species; however, the already fragmented population (due to them being mainly restricted to burrows) has been fragmented by developments. The generation time is fast; however, broods contain around 3 mancae which can cause the population to recover slowly. I had a long discussion with Jonathan Wright and at the time he said the species was vulnerable to habitat destruction; now the species is also threatened by collection. Collection can have a detrimental effect on a population (even when it is large) especially when it is mass collected like what may happen to Venezillo arizonicus.

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Thank you for the reply!

It would probably be best to obscure genera instead as you mentioned. The statuses are global as most species have a small range.

I’ll create a flag and discuss this topic with my fellow top IDers and observers.


closed to focus on flag: