Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 96, Issue 10, pp 1159–1168

National “versus” global red lists of imperiled fishes: why the discord?


DOI: 10.1007/s10641-011-9843-x

Cite this article as:
Helfman, G.S. Environ Biol Fish (2013) 96: 1159. doi:10.1007/s10641-011-9843-x


Countries develop “Red Lists” of their endangered freshwater fish species. At the same time, international bodies such as the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recognize fishes threatened at a global scale. A comparison between red listed fish species in 12 countries with their IUCN ranks showed that many of the species that appear on country lists are not recognized similarly by IUCN, and vice versa. Disagreement arises as a result of missing assessments, misapplication of data or protocols, focus on local vs. global status, emphasis on subspecies vs. species, acceptance of simple rarity as a metric of imperilment for marginal populations, failure or inability of countries to follow IUCN protocols, lack of communication, disagreement on the status of species, and legal wrangling, among others. Regardless, disagreement can be used to justify delaying action to protect species and undermines the credibility of those engaged in preservation efforts. These problems could be diminished via greater communication and respect between national and international entities, active conflict resolution, and creation of an IUCN category that recognizes species protected by national legislation via a “TH(N) (Nationally Threatened)” rank, regardless of adherence to IUCN protocols.


Regional red listsNational red listsEndangered speciesSpecies protection programsInternational Union for the Conservation of NatureImperilment ranking

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Odum School of EcologyUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA