Information and Advisory Note Number 49                                                Back to menu

Priority species in Scotland: animals

1. Introduction

This Note incorporates a list of the animal species, occurring in Scotland, which have been identified as priority species under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. It also details and defines, for use in SNH, the terms used for the priority categories. This note is intended also to bring about common usage of terminology within SNH, in line with that being adopted by other relevant agencies in the UK. In addition, there have been recent important amendments to RDB categories and these are also explained in the following paragraphs.

For the purposes of this note, "animals" includes all vertebrates, and all invertebrate groups for which RDBs or status reviews have been published. Several invertebrate groups, some with thousands of species, are thus excluded. Information and Advisory Note No. 48 on priority plants complements this Note.

1.1 Priority listings

Species are assigned priorities, or are attributed with threat categories, from three main sources:

1.2 The UK Biodiversity Action Plan

The UK Government published "Biodiversity: the UK Action Plan" in January 1994. This included 59 summary action points recommended for the Government and its agencies to achieve specific objectives aimed at conserving and enhancing biodiversity. These were supplemented by many more actions within the text of the report. However, although the 59 "summary" points provide a baseline against which to measure success, it should be noted that there is sometimes a difference in the expression of intent between the summary objectives and the main text. In view of this, SNH is adopting the priority order set out in step 33 (listed below) for species for which plans are to be prepared and implemented. The order is as follows.

A definition of these terms, which have been adopted by SNH, are as follows.

(i) Globally threatened species
This term is to be used of species which are included on the most recent lists published by either IUCN or the World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

(ii) Threatened endemics
Endemism will be based on the most recent authoritative taxonomic statement. This category is to be used in respect of endemic species included in accepted red data books and status reviews. Generally, sub-species have been excluded since, in many cases, these have been described from varieties or forms at the end of geographical dines.

(iii) Scheduled and annex species.
 This is self explanatory.

(iv) Endangered/vulnerable species in RDB.
 These include all species listed as endangered or vulnerable in the published RDBs and reviews. There are reviews pending of the RDB status of four groups of insects and once these are published the lists appended to this note will be revised. The list will also need revision once the new IUCN criteria have been applied to animals (see below).

1.3 The BAP Steering Group report

"Biodiversity: the Steering Group Report was published in December 1995 as a follow-up to the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. This contains
action plans for 116 species (list 1) and a list of 286 species (list 2) for which it is recommended that plans are prepared within the next three years. However, it should be noted that not all of the latter species would qualify under the categories set out under step 33 of the Biodiversity Action Plan. The Steering Group report used a different set of criteria, explained in full in the report, as follows:

1.4 Red Data Books
In November 1994, the IUCN adopted a new set of threat categories and quantitative criteria for use in international red data lists. It is intended that these will be used for national red data lists in time. These recognise three distinctly different types of listing at the national level.

The term Red Data Book (or list) should now be used only for the first type of list. Some publications previously called Red Data Books are now more correctly referred to as conservation value lists, for example the Red Data Book on birds. The recent production of "Birds of conservation importance' by JNCC is an example of the third type of list. This list is very similar to the "Biro's of Conservation Concern* list released by the NGO sector. The main differences are that the statutory list draws out the importance of globally threatened species and gives greater importance to rare declining species over declining species that are more common.

The old and new IUCN Red Data Book threat categories are compared below:

Old                                                                New
Extinct                                                         Extinct Extinct in the wild
Endangered                                               Critically endangered Endangered
Vulnerable                                                  Vulnerable
Rare                                                            (No direct equivalent)
(No direct equivalent)                                Low risk:
ditto                                                             conservation
ditto                                                             near threatened
nationally scarce                                        nationally scarce
Indeterminate                                             Data deficient
Insufficiently known                                    Data deficient

It is unclear when the new IUCN criteria will be applied to the red data lists for animals and both the old definitions and the new ones are likely to operate in parallel for some time. The new IUCN criteria are more tightly defined than the old criteria. Their application to animal red lists in the UK may mean that many species may move from one category to another. For many invertebrates a lack of information may mean that they move into the data deficient category. Reviews of RDB status for water beetles, nematoceran, empid and cyclorraphan flies and macro-moths are in advanced stages of preparation at JNCC and will be published in 1996/97. The attached table will be amended when these appear.

2. Application of status

2.1 SSSI selection guidelines
The criteria relating to the selection of SSSIs on the basis of animal interest are set out in chapters 13-19 of the "Guidelines for the selection of biological SSSI's". Those for mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish are still largely valid. The guidelines for invertebrates should be used in conjunction with the most recent RDBs or reviews. The lists for butterflies and dragonflies published in the Guidelines are still largely valid for the species found in Scotland.

2.2 NNR and SSSI management plans

In most plans an attempt is made to evaluate features of significance which need to be taken into account in setting objectives or carrying out operations on the ground. Detailed guidance on this is set out in a previous NCC publication (NCC, 1988). Importance is assessed at the international, national and regional level. It is vital to have a consistent approach to this in SNH. Animal species should only be deemed to be of
international or national significance if they meet the definitions set out below. (0 Internationally important To qualify under this criterion the species has to be identified as globally threatened or included on a relevant Annex to EC legislation or international agreement or convention to which the UK is a signatory. Additionally, this status will be accorded to those species for which the UK holds a significant part of the world population. The assessment of the latter situation will be based on internationally agreed criteria or, in the absence of such criteria, on whether the UK is believed to hold at least 25% of the world population or range based on published evidence. It thus includes all those endemics that are not included in RDBs.

(i) Nationally important
This is not a Biodiversity Action Plan category but we have identified such species on the basis of a) presence on relevant schedules to UK legislation and b) listed as threatened in accepted UK red data books. "Nationally" refers to Great Britain only, that is England, Wales & Scotland but not Northern Ireland.

2.3 Advice to local authorities In the course of commenting on routine casework and in preparing a precognition for a public inquiry, staff may have occasion to make reference to the status of species which form part of the interest of the site in question. Again there will be overlap between the use of new and old criteria produced by IUCN. It is also necessary to take a consistent approach throughout the organisation. Until revised RDBs are published, reference will have to made to an existing published status. The definitions set out in the preceding sections should be used.

3. Explanation of the table

The following table provides a synopsis of species occurring in Scotland ranked according to the Biodiversity Action Plan categories. It does not attempt to list all animal species but only those that fall into the top four BAP categories and that are included on lists 1 and 2 of the Steering Group report (plus additional information where available). An exception is made in the case of birds, where nearly all species are listed on Appendix II of the Bern Convention (a full list of these is available from RASD). For this table, listing on the Bern or Bonn Convention alone is not a criterion for inclusion. This table will need to be revised at intervals as further information becomes available.
The columns in the table are:

Column 1 - Taxon
Species are grouped in the order of the UK
Biodiversity Action Plan priorities. They are
listed by scientific name in the following order
within each category - invertebrates, fish,
amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals.

Column 2 - Biodiversity Action Plan rank Each species is attributed a number coded as follows:
1 - globally threatened
2 - threatened endemic
3 - international/UK schedules
4 - threatened RDB species
5 - other species on the steering group report lists

Column 3 - Steering Group report priorities The table indicates if the species occurs on list 1,2 or 3 of the DoE steering group. All list 1 and 2 species are included in the table regardless of their BAP rank.

Column 4 - Source
The source for the BAP rank attributed to a
species is given, as follows:

WCMC: World Conservation Monitoring Centre lists (for globally threatened spp.)
HSD: listed on Annex II & IV of the Habitats Directive
BD: listed on the Annex I of the Birds Directive
WCA: listed on schedules 1 or 5 of the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act as amended
RDB: listed in a published Red Data Book or review
DoE: listed on list 1 or 2 of the BAP steering group report if not in any of the categories above

Column 5 - Red Data Book status.
The following abbreviations are used:
Ex - extinct
E = endangered
V = vulnerable
R = rare
I =indeterminate
K = insufficiently known
Sc = scarce
The categories given in the RDB column for the birds are those allocated in the JNCC 'Birds of Conservation Importance' list. However, it should be noted that this is a conservation action priority list rather than a Red Data Book.

The categories for birds are:
1 = IUCN Globally threatened
2 = Rare and declining British breeding birds
3 = Rapidly declining but common British breeding birds
4 = Moderately declining, historically declining but common, internationally important, localised or threatened in Europe' British birds.

All category 1 and 2 species are listed regardless of their status otherwise. Only entries from the published Red Data lists have been given here. Revised entries will be added as new reviews are published. To date, no RDB has been prepared for non-avian vertebrates. Unofficial RDB lists have been prepared by some NGOs but these have not been sanctioned by JNCC in the context of either the former or the revised IUCN criteria.

Columns 6&7- 10km squares The number of 10km squares in which each species occurs is indicated for Scotland and for GB as a whole. These figures are derived from a number of different sources. Most are from a JNCC report from the Biological Records Centre at Monks Wood (Dring, 1994). This has been supplemented by published atlases where these are available. For birds, the numbers are of 10km squares with proven breeding records. The numbers of squares were estimated from the New Atlas of Breeding Birds (Gibbons et al. 1994). Other information has been derived from contract reports, from specialists and from personal knowledge. For some groups, especially invertebrates, detailed information is not readily available. Wherever possible the foregoing information has been revised or augmented in the light of information derived from reports received under SNH contracts.

Column 8 - SNH Region Where known, the occurrence of species in SNH Regions is indicated. Regions shown in parentheses indicate that that records are doubtful, very old, or the species is now thought to be extinct in the Region in question. Only birds with proven breeding records or regular wintering areas were attributed to Regions. Almost all of the bird species listed have been recorded as passage, wintering or vagrant birds in all SNH Regions.

Columns 9&10- International status The status of species in respect of the appendices of the Bern and Bonn Conventions and Annexes of the EC Habitats Directive has been checked against the most recent texts (all species on Annex II and IV are listed). The letters indicate the relevant appendices. All species on Annex I of the EC Birds Directive I are listed.

Columns 11 &12- UK protection inclusion on the relevant schedule of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) and the 1994 Conservation (Natural Habitats, etc.) Regulations (abbreviated to "Reg'ns") are indicated. All species on schedule 1 & 5 of the Act and schedule 2 of the regulations are listed.

4. References (other than RDB and Reviews)

Anon, 1994. Biodiversity: the UK Action Plan(Cm2428). HMSO, London

Anon, 1995. Biodiversity: the UK Steering Group Report. HMSO, London.

Dring, J.C.M., 1994. Support for the national Biological Records Centre 1993/4: first annual report. Part 3 Summaries of species occurrence. JNCC Report No. 187. JNCC, Peterborough.

Gibbons, D.W., Reid, J.B. & Chapman, R.A., 1993. The New Atlas of Breeding Birds in Britain and Ireland: 1988-1991. T&A.D. Poyser.

Lack, P., 1986. The Atlas of Wintering Birds in Britain and Ireland. T & A.D. Poyser.

NCC, 1988. Site management plans for nature conservation: a working guide. NCC, Peterborough.

NCC, 1989. Guidelines for the selection of biological SSSIs. NCC, Peterborough.

5. Authors

Dr David Phillips, Dr Main Cooper

6. Contacts

International and Biodiversity Branch

David Phillips (invertebrates)
Main" Cooper (non-avian vertebrates)
Andy Douse (birds)

Designated Areas and Sites Branch

Martin Gaywood (HSD species)
Aquatic Environments Branch John Baxter (marine species) Willie Duncan (freshwater species)

7. Contact address

Scottish Natural Heritage 2 Anderson Place EDINBURGH EH6 5NP
Tel: 0131-447 4784


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