Rare species

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A rare species is a group of organisms that are very uncommon, scarce, or infrequently encountered. This designation may be applied to either a plant or animal taxon, and is distinct from the term endangered or threatened. Designation of a rare species may be made by an official body, such as a national government, state, or province. The term more commonly appears without reference to specific criteria. The IUCN does not normally make such designations, but may use the term in scientific discussion. [1]


Rarity rests on a specific species being represented by a small number of organisms worldwide, usually fewer than 10,000. However, a species having a very narrow endemic range or fragmented habitat also influences the concept. [2] [3] Almost 75% of known species can be classified as "rare". [4]

The International Union for Conservation of Nature uses the term "rare" as a designation for species found in isolated geographical locations. They are not endangered, but classified as "at risk". [5] [6]

A species may be endangered or vulnerable, but not considered rare if it has a large, dispersed population. Rare species are generally considered threatened because a small population size is more likely to not recover from ecological disasters.[ citation needed ]

Rare species are species with small populations. Many move into the endangered or vulnerable category if the negative factors affecting them continue to operate. Examples of rare species include the Himalayan brown bear, Fennec fox, Wild Asiatic buffalo and Hornbill.

A rare plant's legal status can be observed through the USDA's Plants Database.

Rare species

Giant Panda Ailuropoda melanoleuca Vulnerable 1,000 to 3,000 China (Sichuan province)
Wild Bactrian camel Camelus ferus Critically endangered 950 Kazakhstan/Northwest China/Southern Mongolia
Cheetah Acinonyx jubatus Vulnerable 7,000 to 10,000 Africa/Southwestern Asia
California condor Gymnogyps californianusCritically endangered446 West North America
Alagoas curassow Mitu mitu Extinct in the wild 130 (in captivity) North East Brazil
Philippine eagle Pithecophaga jefferyiCritically endangered200 breeding pairs Eastern Luzon, Samar, Leyte, and Mindanao
Black softshell turtle Nilssonia nigricansExtinct in the wild150 to 300 (in captivity) Sultan Bayazid Bastami shrine at Chittagong
Key tree-cactus Pilosocereus robinii Critically Endangered7 to 15 Florida Keys, Mexico, Puerto Rico
Kakapo Strigops habroptilus Critically Endangered149 New Zealand
Maui's dolphin Cephalorhynchus hectori maui Critically Endangered55 New Zealand
Vaquita Phocoena sinus Critically Endangered12 Gulf of California (Mexico)
Gobi bear Ursus arctos gobiensis Critically Endangered22 Gobi Desert (Mongolia)

See also

Related Research Articles

Threatened species IUCN conservation category

Threatened Species are any species which are vulnerable to endangerment in the near future. Species that are threatened are sometimes characterised by the population dynamics measure of critical depensation, a mathematical measure of biomass related to population growth rate. This quantitative metric is one method of evaluating the degree of endangerment.

<i>Abutilon menziesii</i> Species of flowering plant

Abutilon menziesii, known as Koʻoloaʻula in Hawaiian, is an endangered species of flowering shrub in the mallow family, Malvaceae, that is endemic to Hawaii. It is a sprawling shrub that can reach up to 10 feet in height. The leaves, which range from an inch in width to about five inches, vary in their shapes. They have a velvety feel to them. The small hibiscus-shaped flowers generally hang downward. Though charming up close, the flowers can be hidden by the much larger leaves and not often visible at a distance. Although the Hawaiian name ʻula refers to the more commonly seen red color, koʻoloa ʻula flowers are known in a range of colors: pink, pink and white, pale red, maroon, deep purplish-red (wine), salmon, and blond or butter. The center or staminal column is yellowish.

Conservation status indication of the chance of a species extinction, regardless of authority used

The conservation status of a group of organisms indicates whether the group still exists and how likely the group is to become extinct in the near future. Many factors are taken into account when assessing conservation status: not simply the number of individuals remaining, but the overall increase or decrease in the population over time, breeding success rates, and known threats. Various systems of conservation status exist and are in use at international, multi-country, national and local levels as well as for consumer use.

Cleland Conservation Park Protected area in South Australia

Cleland Conservation Park is a protected area located in the Adelaide Hills, South Australia about 22 kilometres (14 mi) south-east of the Adelaide city centre. Cleland Conservation Park conserves a significant area of natural bushland on the Adelaide Hills face and includes the internationally popular Cleland Wildlife Park and the popular tourist destinations of Mount Lofty summit and Waterfall Gully. It is maintained by the South Australian Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR).

<i>Amaranthus brownii</i> Extinct species of flowering plant

Amaranthus brownii was an annual herb in the family Amaranthaceae. The plant was found only on the small island of Nihoa in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, growing on rocky outcrops at altitudes of 120–215 m (394–705 ft). It was one of nine species of Amaranthus in the Hawaiian Islands, as well as the only endemic Hawaiian species of the genus. It is now considered extinct.

Biodiversity action plan

A biodiversity action plan (BAP) is an internationally recognized program addressing threatened species and habitats and is designed to protect and restore biological systems. The original impetus for these plans derives from the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). As of 2009, 191 countries have ratified the CBD, but only a fraction of these have developed substantive BAP documents.

<i>Isotria medeoloides</i> Species of orchid

Isotria medeoloides, commonly known as small whorled pogonia or little five leaves, is a terrestrial orchid found in temperate Eastern North America.

<i>Astrophytum asterias</i> Species of cactus

Astrophytum asterias is a species of cactus in the genus Astrophytum, and is native to small parts of Texas in the United States and Mexico. Common names include sand dollar cactus, sea urchin cactus, star cactus and star peyote.

<i>Protea comptonii</i> Species of flowering plant in the family Proteaceae

Protea comptonii, also known as saddleback sugarbush, is a smallish tree of the genus Protea in the family Proteaceae. It is found in South Africa and Eswatini.

Justicia flaviflora is a species of herbaceous plant in the family Acanthaceae. It was previously classified as Beloperone flaviflora. The species is endemic to the island of Trinidad in the Caribbean republic of Trinidad and Tobago where it is only known from near the peaks of mountains in the Northern Range. It is an erect herb with leaves up to 27 cm (11 in) long. It is suffering from habitat degradation and has become increasingly rare, being now rated as "critically endangered".

<i>Lycopodiella inundata</i> Species of spore-bearing plant

Lycopodiella inundata is a species of club moss known by the common names inundated club moss, marsh clubmoss and northern bog club moss. It has a circumpolar and circumboreal distribution, occurring throughout the northern Northern Hemisphere from the Arctic to montane temperate regions in Eurasia and North America. It grows in wet habitat, such as bogs, ponds, moist spots on the tundra, and long-standing borrow pits.

Vulnerable species IUCN conservation category

A vulnerable species is a species which has been categorized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as likely to become endangered unless the circumstances that are threatening its survival and reproduction improve.

<i>Potamogeton compressus</i> Species of aquatic plant

Potamogeton compressus is a species of aquatic plant known by the common names grass-wrack pondweed, flatstem pondweed and eel-grass pondweed.

<i>Cladonia perforata</i> Species of fungus

Cladonia perforata is a rare species of lichen known as Florida perforate cladonia and Florida perforate reindeer lichen. It is endemic to the state of Florida in the United States, where it is known from 16 populations in four widely separated areas of the state. It is native to a very specific type of Florida scrub habitat which is increasingly rare and patchy due to habitat destruction, degradation, and fragmentation. In 1993 this was the first species of lichen to be federally listed as an endangered species of the United States.

<i>Lilaeopsis schaffneriana</i> Species of flowering plant

Lilaeopsis schaffneriana is a rare species of flowering plant in the family Apiaceae known by the common names Schaffner's grasswort and cienega false rush.

Endangered plants of Europe

Endangered plants of Europe, the list below contains plants that dwell in or migrate to any region in Europe and any nearby islands of the Atlantic Ocean. This includes plants that are found in the East Atlantic Ocean (Azores), Iceland, the Adriatic Sea, the Sea of Azov, the Black and Caspian Sea, Corsica, Cyprus, Palearctic, Russia, Eurasia, North African Coast, the Mediterranean Sea and islands located in the Mediterranean Sea, and the islands of Spain. As of 2007, twenty-one percent of Europe's vascular plant species are classified as threatened, according to the IUCN. The list below was compiled from data on the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species (IUCN) and "Earth's Endangered Creatures" (Online). The International Union for Conservation of Nature, identifies species in need of attention before approaching extinction and works to increase prevention of extinction. The list below includes vulnerable (VU), endangered (EN), critically endangered (CR), and recently extinct (EX) species.

<i>Polyscias flynnii</i> Species of flowering plant

Polyscias flynnii is a plant species endemic to the island of Kauai in Hawaii. It is rare, found only in one population covering about 1 km2 in the Kalalau Valley. It is regarded as threatened. It is threatened by feral goats and non-native plant species in its habitat. It was federally listed as an endangered species of the United States in 2010.

Protea vogtsiae, also known as the Kouga sugarbush, is a small flowering shrub of the genus Protea within the family Proteaceae, which is only found growing in the wild in the southern Cape Region of South Africa.

<i>Betula chichibuensis</i> Species of birch

Betula chichibuensis, commonly known as Chichibu birch, is a species of birch native exclusively to limestone outcrops in the Okuchichibu and Kitakami Mountains of central and northeast Honshu, Japan. The tree is rated as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List due to its extreme rarity and limited range.


  1. "Assessment Process". www.iucnredlist.org. Retrieved 2017-11-14.
  2. R. MacNally and G. W. Brown, Reptiles and Habitat Fragmentation in the Box-ironbush Forests of Central Victoria, Australia: Predicting Compositional Change and Faunal Nested-ness, Oecologia 128:116–125 (2001).
  3. Prendergast, J. R.; Quinn, R. M.; Lawton, J. H.; Eversham, B. C.; Gibbons, D. W. (1993-09-23). "Rare species, the coincidence of diversity hotspots and conservation strategies". Nature. 365 (6444): 335–337. Bibcode:1993Natur.365..335P. doi:10.1038/365335a0.
  4. Dinerstein, Eric (2013) The Kingdom of Rarities. Island Press. ISBN   9781610911955.
  5. "Rare Species". www.encyclopedia.com. Retrieved 2017-11-15.
  6. "IUCN – A brief history". IUCN. 2017-10-06. Retrieved 2017-11-15.

Further reading