New Leatherback Red List Assessments Published

First-ever combined subpopulation listing and global listing show variation in leatherback status worldwide.

Leatherback turtle. © Brian HutchinsonFor decades, the IUCN Marine Turtle Specialist Group has debated the utility and appropriateness of single global listings on the Red List of Threatened Species for widely distributed, long-lived marine turtle species. The main disadvantage of global listings is that they fail to describe and assess wide variations in marine turtle population dynamics, extinction risk, and conservation status across subpopulations, so can lead to misleading and confusing results.

Today marks an important breakthrough for marine turtle Red List assessments. The IUCN Red List Authority has published the new leatherback Red List assessments, which, for the first time, include subpopulation-level listings—not simply a global listing. This is the first time that any marine turtle species has been officially assessed, globally, to the subpopulation level, and sets an important precedent for other marine turtle Red List assessments, as well as red listing of other widely distributed, long-lived species, such as sharks, marine mammals, and seabirds.

These assessment results reflected the wide variation in leatherback subpopulation status, accurately highlighting subpopulations that have declined greatly over time, as well as those that are small and /or geographically restricted, and merit Critically Endangered status. These subpopulations require effective protection and reduction of threats to ensure their future existence.

Leatherback turtle, Trinidad. © Brian HutchinsonGlobally, leatherback status is now Vulnerable. East Pacific, West Pacific, Southwest Atlantic, and Southwest Indian Ocean subpopulations were listed as “Critically Endangered,” Northwest Atlantic leatherbacks were listed as “Least Concern,” and Northeast Indian Ocean and Southeast Atlantic subpopulations were listed as “Data Deficient.”

We are working on Red List updates to several other marine turtle species using this subpopulation approach, as well as other improvements to how we interpret and apply Red List criteria to marine turtle assessments.

Check out the IUCN Red List website to view the new leatherback subpopulation Red List assessments.

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MTSG Member Wins Whitley Award for Nature

The UK-based Whitley Fund for Nature awarded Joanna Alfaro-Shigueto, an MTSG member from Lima (Peru), with one of the world’s most prestigious wildlife conservation awards – the Whitley Award.


The results were announced during a ceremony at the Royal Geographical Society in May, at which the Whitley Fund for Nature’s patron, Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal (Princess Anne) presented the prizes. Continue reading

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Hawaiian Green Turtle Red List Assessment Accepted

We are pleased to report that the Red List Assessment of the Hawaiian subpopulation of green turtles (Chelonia mydas) has been accepted by IUCN. As detailed in our last post, the final assessment of the Hawaiian green turtle concluded a status of Least Concern for this subpopulation. This status is a testament to the decades of collaborative research and conservation in Hawaii that allowed the population to recover, and gives hope to the recovery of depleted marine turtle populations in other parts of the world. The final assessment is available on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species Website (Update: IUCN is currently experiencing technical difficulties with their website. In the meantime you may download the PDF here). Continue reading

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Hawaiian Green Turtle Red List Assessment Revised

A version of a Red List Assessment of the Hawaiian subpopulation of green turtles (Chelonia mydas) was completed by Nicolas Pilcher, Milani Chaloupka, and Erin Woods and submitted by the MTSG to IUCN for consideration late last year. This followed a review of the draft assessment by the entire MTSG and the Assessment Steering Committee, and multiple rounds of revision.

The IUCN Red List Office recently provided comments on the draft 2011 assessment and considered that our conclusion of a Near Threatened status was not consistent with the restricted area of habitat assessment criterion used in the draft assessment. We had erred on the side of caution by concluding Near Threatened but on further reflection we have now revised the assessment given a more detailed consideration of the assessment Criterion B. Continue reading

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Hawaiian Green Turtle Red List Assessment Submitted to IUCN

 

 

UPDATE (1/30/2012): After review by IUCN, the Red List Assessment of Hawaiian green turtles has been revised and is pending re-submission. See this post for details.

The final version of a Red List Assessment of the Hawaiian subpopulation of green turtles (Chelonia mydas) was completed by Nicolas Pilcher, Milani Chaloupka, and Erin Woods and submitted by the MTSG to IUCN for consideration this week. This follows a review of the draft assessment by the entire MTSG and the Assessment Steering Committee, and multiple rounds of revision. Continue reading

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