Changes in conservation status of indigenous land species

  • Image, Changes in conservation status of indigenous species.

    New Zealand has unique indigenous plants and animals that are our national taonga (treasures). Because most are endemic (found nowhere else in the world) New Zealand makes an important contribution to global biodiversity. Biodiversity (diversity of life) is important for ecosystem processes, te ao Māori including mahinga kai (customary food gathering), and culture and recreation.

    The conservation status of our biodiversity represents their risk of extinction. To date, experts have assigned the conservation status of only about 12,000 indigenous terrestrial taxa – only a fraction of the total that are thought to exist. Of the taxa that have been assessed, we do not know enough about the distribution and abundance of some taxa, particularly invertebrates, to assess their risk of extinction.

    We report on the conservation status and most-recent change in status of indigenous and resident taxa that have been assessed. This includes bats, birds, reptiles and frogs, plants (vascular plants, mosses, hornworts, and liverworts), lichens, earthworms, snails, spiders, and insects. 
     

    We classified Conservation status of indigenous land species as a case study.

    Key findings

    Trend not assessed

    Of taxa that have been assessed, 82.8 percent (285 of 344) of indigenous terrestrial vertebrate taxa (birds, bats, reptiles and frogs) were classified as either threatened or at risk of extinction. More than one-quarter (28.4 percent or 2,440 taxa) of assessed taxa cannot be assigned a conservation status because we lack sufficient information about them (classified as data deficient).

    • Of taxa that have been assessed, the following were classified as at risk or threatened with extinction:
      • 85.1 percent of reptiles and frogs (103 taxa), 83.3 percent of bats (5 taxa), and 81.6 percent of birds (177 taxa)

      • 36.5 percent of plants (1,232 taxa) and 10.5 percent of lichens (189 taxa)

      • 67.3 percent snails (303 taxa), 35.8 percent of spiders and terrestrial invertebrates (878 taxa), and 18.1 percent of earthworms (32 taxa).

    • There is not enough information to assess the conservation status (classified as data deficient) of 59.3 percent of earthworms (105 taxa), 54.1 percent of lichens (975 taxa), 38.4 percent of spiders and terrestrial insects (943 taxa), and 30.7 percent of land snails (138 taxa).
    • For the groups we can track change over time: 
      • the conservation status of 20 bird taxa improved between assessment periods (2012–16) – more than half of these (60 percent or 12 taxa) may move to a worse conservation status if current conservation management ceases

      • the conservation status of seven birds, three geckos, and one terrestrial insect (a species of ground weta) declined between assessment periods (2012–16, 2012–15, and 2010–14, respectively).

    Figure 1

    Note: Many invertebrate taxa have not been assessed. We exclude non-resident indigenous species (migrants and vagrants) that do not breed in New Zealand. We include both taxonomically determinate and indeterminate taxa. Taxonomically indeterminate taxa are those not yet formally described and named, and which may prove to be indistinct from other taxa when research is completed, or taxa that are formally described but for which there is doubt about their validity. In addition to the above, 76 taxa are confirmed extinct.

    We used the most-recent assessment data available for each group as of December 2017 – this ranges from 2010 to 2016 data.

    Bats are too few to display on this graph, they fit the following groups:
    Threatened: 4, At risk: 1, Data deficient: 1, Total: 6

     

    Table 1
    Terrestrial insects with an actual change in conservation status between 2010 and 2014
    Common name Scientific name Status change  Previous category
    (2010)  
    Current category
    (2014)
      
    Ground weta Hemiandrus furoviarius Worse At risk – naturally uncommon Threatened – nationally critical  

     

    Table 2
    Reptiles with an actual change in conservation status between 2012 and 2015
    Common name  Scientific name  Status change  Previous category (2012)  Current category (2015) 
    Nelson green gecko Naultinus stellatus Worse At risk – declining Threatened – nationally vulnerable
    Central Otago gecko Woodworthia ’Central Otago’ Worse Not threatened At risk – declining
    Cromwell gecko Woodworthia ’Cromwell’ Worse Not threatened At risk – declining

     

    Table 3
    Birds with an actual change in conservation status between 2012 and 2016
    Common name  Scientific name  Status change  Previous category (2012)  Current category (2015) 
    Campbell Island teal* Anas nesiotis Better Threatened – nationally critical Threatened – nationally vulnerable
    Auckland Island pipit*  Anthus novaeseelandiae aucklandicus Better  At risk – recovering   At risk – naturally uncommon  
    North Island brown kiwi*  Apteryx mantelli Better  Threatened - nationally vulnerable At risk – declining  
    Rowi, Okarito brown kiwi*  Apteryx rowi   Better  Threatened – nationally critical   Threatened – nationally vulnerable  
    Northern New Zealand dotterel*  Charadrius obscurus aquilonius Better  Threatened – nationally vulnerable   At risk – recovering
    Campbell Island snipe  Coenocorypha aucklandica perseverance Better  Threatened – nationally critical   Threatened – nationally vulnerable 
    Kakariki, Kermadec parakeet, *  Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae cyanurus Better  At risk – recovering  At risk – naturally uncommon 
    Eastern rockhopper penguin   Eudyptes filholi Better  Threatened – nationally critical  Threatened – nationally vulnerable 
    Korora ,white-flippered blue penguin*  Eudyptula minor albosignata Better  Threatened – nationally vulnerable  At risk – declining 
    New Zealand storm petrel*   Fregetta maoriana Better  Threatened – nationally endangered   Threatened – nationally vulnerable 
    North Island weka Gallirallus australis greyi   Better  Threatened – nationally vulnerable   At risk – recovering 
    Chatham Island warbler*   Gerygone albofrontata   Better  Threatened – nationally vulnerable  At risk – recovering 
    Poaka, pied stilt Himantopus himantopus leucocephalus   Better  At risk – declining  Not threatened  
    Otago shag* Leucocarbo chalconotus   Better  Threatened – nationally vulnerable At risk – recovering 
    Pangurunguru, northern giant petrel Macronectes halli   Better  At risk – naturally uncommon   At risk – recovering 
    Mohua, yellowhead* Mohoua ochrocephala Better  Threatened – nationally vulnerable At risk – recovering 
    North Island kaka* Nestor meridionalis septentrionalis   Better  Threatened – nationally vulnerable At risk – recovering 
    Sooty tern Onychoprion fuscata   Better  At risk – naturally uncommon At risk – recovering 
    Red-tailed tropic bird   Phaethon rubricauda   Better  Threatened – nationally endangered At risk – recovering 
    Weweia, New Zealand dabchick Poliocephalus rufopectus   Better  Threatened – nationally vulnerable  At risk – recovering 
    Matuku hurepo, Australasian bittern, Botaurus poiciloptilus   Worse   Threatened – nationally endangered  Threatened – nationally critical 
    kakariki , orange-fronted parakeet * Cyanoramphus malherbi   Worse  Threatened – nationally endangered Threatened – nationally critical 
    Hoiho, yellow-eyed penguin Megadyptes antipodes   Worse  Threatened –nationally vulnerable  Threatened –nationally endangered 
    Popokatea, Whitehead Mohoua albicilla   Worse  Not threatened   At risk – declining 
    Toutouwai, South Island robin* Petroica australis australis   Worse  Not threatened   At risk – declining 
    Toutouwai, North Island robin   Petroica longipes   Worse  Not threatened   At risk – declining 
    Campbell Island mollymawk Thalassarche impavida   Worse  At risk – naturally uncommon   Threatened – nationally vulnerable 

    Note: An ‘actual change’ in conservation status is a result in a change in a species’ population numbers or distribution, not a result of a change in available information, classification system, or taxonomy. Excludes non-resident indigenous species (migrants and vagrants) that do not breed in New Zealand.

    Symbol: * denotes taxa that have a ‘conservation dependent’ qualifier, meaning they are likely to move to a worse conservation status if current conservation management ceases.

     

    Definition and methodology

    Conservation status is a measure of the threat classification of resident indigenous animal and plant taxa. ‘Taxa’ are named groups of distinct organisms that are organised into taxonomic units that can be represented by a species, subspecies, form, or variety. The Department of Conservation (DOC) developed the New Zealand Threat Classification System (NZTCS) to provide a national system that is similar to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources Red List.

    To date, the conservation status of fewer than 12,000 indigenous terrestrial taxa in New Zealand has been assessed, and these taxa are a fraction of the total that are thought to exist. Numerous taxa in the invertebrates group have not been assessed. Of the taxa that have been assessed, nearly 30 percent cannot be assigned to a conservation status because we lack sufficient information about them (classified as data deficient), and confidence in the quality of data is low for the assessments of many other taxa. Furthermore, most of the groups of organisms that have not yet been assessed are poorly understood. For vertebrates (eg birds, bats, and reptiles) and vascular plants we have assessed all known taxa in New Zealand, with varying levels of confidence. For the other taxa we do not and should not make assumptions about overall conservation status without further research.

    We used the most-recent assessment data available as of December 2017, for the following groups:

    • bats (2012 data)
    • birds (2016 data)
    • earthworms (2014 data)
    • reptiles and frogs: reptiles (2014 data) and frogs (2013 data)
    • plants: vascular plants (2012 data), mosses, hornworts and liverworts (2014 data)
    • snails (2010 data)
    • spiders and terrestrial insects: Hymenoptera, Orthoptera, stick insects and fleas (2014) Araneae, Diptera, Coleoptera, Lepidoptera, and Hemiptera (2010 data)
    • lichens (2010 data).

    Experts assign a threat of extinction status through a DOC-led process, based on criteria of abundance, distribution, and trends. The criteria are used to monitor the status of individual taxa and report on the state of indigenous biodiversity (Townsend et al, 2008). Qualifiers provide critical additional information about a taxon’s listing, status, and management. For example, a ‘conservation dependent’ qualifier means the taxon is likely to move to a worse conservation status if current management ceases.

    We report on the conservation status of 8,603 taxa, and exclude fungi. We exclude 73 extinct taxa, and only considered indigenous and resident taxa. We include both taxonomically determinate and indeterminate taxa in our analysis. Taxonomically determinate taxa are those generally accepted by relevant experts as distinct units. Taxonomically indeterminate taxa have not been formally described and named, and may prove to be indistinct from other taxa when research is completed, or they may be taxa that have been formally described but for which there is doubt about their validity.

    The published data for snails (Mahlfield et al, 2012) excludes Powelliphanta. When snail fauna were assessed, a deliberate choice was made to focus on species thought to be threatened or at risk, omitting many others. Future assessments will include more species.

    This case study’s analysis only considers changes in conservation status that result from a change in a species’ population numbers or distribution. It excludes status changes that result from changes in available information, the classification system, or taxonomy. Where conservation status changed, this measure also looked at the NZTCS listings done in 2012 for birds (Robertson et al, 2013); 2012 for reptiles (Hitchmough et al, 2015); and 2010 for Orthoptera (Trewick et al, 2012).

    Data quality

    We classified Changes in conservation status of indigenous land species as a case study.

    Relevance

    Image, Direct relevance. This case study is a direct measure of the Land species, taonga species, and genetic diversity topic.

    Accuracy

    Image, Medium accuracy. The accuracy of the data source is of medium quality.

    References

    Andrew, I, Macfarlane, R, Johns, P, Hitchmough, R, & Stringer, I (2012): The conservation status of New Zealand Diptera. New Zealand Entomologist 35(2): 99–102. Retrieved from www.tandfonline.com.

    Buckley, T, Boyer, S, Bartlam, S, Hitchmough, R, Rolfe J, & Stringer (2014). Conservation status of New Zealand earthworms, 2014 (PDF, 574kb). New Zealand Threat Classification Series 10. Retrieved from www.doc.govt.nz.

    Buckley, T, Hitchmough, R, Rolfe, J. & Stringer, I (2014). Conservation status of New Zealand stick insects, 2014 (PDF, 465kb). Retrieved from www.doc.govt.nz.

    de Lange, P, Galloway, D, Blanchon, D, Knight, A, Rolfe, J, Crowcroft, G, & Hitchmough, R (2012): Conservation status of New Zealand lichens, New Zealand Journal of Botany 50(3): 303–363. Retrieved from www.tandfonline.com.

    de Lange, P, Glenny, D, Braggins, J, Renner, M, von Konrat, M, Engel, J, Reeb C, & Rolfe, J (2015). Conservation status of New Zealand hornworts and liverworts, 2014 (PDF, 687kb). New Zealand Threat Classification Series 11. Retrieved from www.doc.govt.nz.

    de Lange, P, Rolfe, J, Champion, P, Courtney, S, Heenan, P, Barkla, J,... Hitchmough, R (2013). Conservation status of New Zealand indigenous vascular plants, 2012 (PDF, 792kb). New Zealand Threat Classification Series 3. Retrieved from www.doc.govt.nz.

    Heath, A, Stringer, I, Hitchmough R, & Rolfe, J (2015). Conservation status of New Zealand fleas, 2014 (PDF, 551kb). New Zealand Threat Classification Series 12. Retrieved from www.doc.govt.nz.

    Hitchmough, R, Anderson, P, Barr, B, Monks, J, Lettink, M, Reardon, J,... Whitaker T (2013). Conservation status of New Zealand reptiles, 2012 (PDF, 650kb). New Zealand Threat Classification Series 2. Retrieved from www.doc.govt.nz.

    Hitchmough, R, Barr, B, Lettink, M, Monks, J, Reardon, J, Tocher, M,... Rolfe, J (2015). Conservation status of New Zealand reptiles, 2015 (PDF, 549kb). Retrieved from www.doc.govt.nz.

    Leschen, R, Marris, J, Emberson, R, Nunn, J, Hitchmough, R, & Stringer, I (2012). The conservation status of New Zealand Coleoptera. New Zealand Entomologist 35(2): 91–98. Retrieved from www.tandfonline.com.

    Mahlfeld, K, Brook, F, Roscoe, D, Hitchmough, R, & Stringer, I (2012). The conservation status of New Zealand terrestrial Gastropoda excluding Powelliphanta. New Zealand Entomologist 35(2): 103–109. Retrieved from www.tandfonline.com.

    Newman, D, Bell, B, Bishop, P, Burns, R, Haigh A, & Hitchmough, R (2013). Conservation status of New Zealand frogs, 2013 (PDF, 565kb). New Zealand Threat Classification Series 5. Retrieved from www.doc.govt.nz.

    O’Donnell, C, Christie, J, Hitchmough, R, Lloyd, B, & Parsons S (2010): Conservation status of New Zealand bats, 2009 (PDF, 570kb). New Zealand Journal of Zoology 37: 297–311. Retrieved from www.doc.govt.nz.

    O’Donnell, C, Christie, J, Lloyd, B, Parsons S, & Hitchmough R (2013). Conservation status of New Zealand bats, 2012 (PDF, 570kb). New Zealand Threat Classification Series 6. Retrieved from www.doc.govt.nz.

    Robertson, H, Baird K, Dowding J, Elliott, G, Hitchmough, R, Miskelly, C,... Taylor, G (2017). Conservation status of New Zealand birds, 2016 (PDF, 600kb). Retrieved from www.doc.govt.nz.

    Robertson, H, Dowding, J, Elliott, G, Hitchmough, R, Miskelly, C, O’Donnell, C,... Taylor, G (2013). Conservation status of New Zealand birds, 2012 (PDF, 621kb). New Zealand Threat Classification Series 4. Retrieved from www.doc.govt.nz.

    Rolfe, J, Fife, A, Beever, J, Brownsey P, & Hitchmough, R (2016). Conservation status of New Zealand mosses, 2014. (PDF, 583kb). New Zealand Threat Classification Series 13. Retrieved from www.doc.govt.nz.

    Sirvid, P, Vink, C, Wakelin, M, Fitzgerald, B, Hitchmough, R, & Stringer, I (2012): The conservation status of New Zealand Araneae. New Zealand Entomologist 35(2): 85–90. Retrieved from www.tandfonline.com.

    Stringer, I, Hitchmough, R, Dugdale, J, Edwards, E, Hoare, R, & Patrick, B (2012): The conservation status of New Zealand Lepidoptera. New Zealand Entomologist 35(2): 120–127. Retrieved from www.tandfonline.com.

    Stringer, I, Hitchmough, R, Lariviere, M, Eyles, A, Teulon, D, Dale, P, & Henderson, R (2012) The conservation status of New Zealand Hemiptera. New Zealand Entomologist 35(2): 110–115. Retrieved from www.tandfonline.com.

    Townsend, AJ, de Lange, PJ, Duffy, CAJ, Miskelly, CM, Molloy, J, & Norton, DA (2008). New Zealand Threat Classification System manual (PDF, 478kb). Retrieved from www.doc.govt.nz.

    Trewick, S, Johns, P, Hitchmough, R, Rolfe, J. & Stringer, I (2016). The conservation status of New Zealand Orthoptera, 2014 (PDF, 519kb). Retrieved from www.doc.govt.nz.

    Trewick, SA, Morris, SJ, Johns, PM, Hitchmough, RA, & Stringer, I (2012). The conservation status of New Zealand Orthoptera. New Zealand Entomologist 35(2): 131–136. Retrieved from www.tandfonline.com.

    Ward, D, Early, J, Schnitzler, F, Hitchmough, R, Rolfe, J, & Stringer I (2017) Conservation status of New Zealand Hymenoptera, 2014. (PDF, 538kb). New Zealand Threat Classification Series 18. Retrieved from www.doc.govt.nz.

    See Data quality information for more detail.

    Archived versions

    See Change in conservation status of indigenous species (archived April 2018)

    Published 19 April 2018

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