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A Guide to the Amphibians
and Reptiles of California


Special Conservation Status Information




observation link



You can download the current Special Animals List, a collection of listings produced by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the current State and Federally Listed Endangered and Threatened Animals of California list here:

https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Data/CNDDB/Plants-and-Animals


For quick reference - below is a list of some of the status listings and codes used on the Special Animals List that are also used on this web site. (Copied from the July 2022 Special Animals list and edited for this page.)

There may be other status designations on the list which are not listed on this web site. For a full list of all status codes, a complete explanation of their meaning, and links to the organizations with their own explanations, see the Special Animals List, or go to the organization's web site.



NatureServe Element Rankings


Global Ranking (G-rank)

The global rank (G-rank) is a reflection of the overall status of an element throughout its global range.


• GX: Presumed Extinct – Not located despite intensive searches and virtually no likelihood of rediscovery.

• GH: Possibly Extinct – Known from only historical occurrences but still some hope of rediscovery. Examples of evidence include (1) that a species has not been documented in approximately 20-40 years despite some searching and/or some evidence of significant habitat loss or degradation; (2) that a species has been searched for unsuccessfully, but not thoroughly enough to presume that it is extinct throughout its range.

• G1: Critically Imperiled – At very high risk of extinction due to very restricted range, very few populations or occurrences, very steep declines, very severe threats, or other factors.

• G2: Imperiled – At high risk of extinction due to restricted range, few populations or occurrences, steep declines, severe threats, or other factors.

• G3: Vulnerable – At moderate risk of extinction due to a fairly restricted range, relatively few populations or occurrences, recent and widespread declines, threats, or other factors.

• G4: Apparently Secure – At fairly low risk of extinction due to an extensive range and/or many populations or occurrences, but with possible cause for some concern as a result of local recent declines, threats, or other factors.

• G5: Secure – At very low risk of extinction due to a very extensive range, abundant populations or occurrences, and little to no concern from declines or threats.

• GNR: Unranked – Global rank not yet assessed.



State Ranking (S-Rank)

The state rank (S-rank) is assigned in much the same way as the global rank, but state ranks refer to the imperilment status only within California’s state boundaries.


• SX: Presumed Extirpated – Species is believed to be extirpated from the state Not located despite intensive searches of historical sites and other appropriate habitat, and virtually no likelihood that it will be rediscovered

• SH: Possibly Extirpated – Known from only historical records but still some hope of rediscovery. There is evidence that the species may no longer be present in the state, but not enough to state this with certainty. Examples of such evidence include (1) that a species has not been documented in approximately 20-40 years despite some searching and/or some evidence of significant habitat loss or degradation; (2) that a species has been searched for unsuccessfully, but not thoroughly enough to presume that it is no longer present in the jurisdiction. • S1: Critically Imperiled – At very high risk of extirpation in the state due to very restricted range, very few populations or occurrences, very steep declines, severe threats, or other factors.

• S2: Imperiled – At high risk of extirpation in the state due to restricted range, few populations or occurrences, steep declines, severe threats, or other factors.

• S3: Vulnerable – At moderate risk of extirpation in the state due to a fairly restricted range, relatively few populations or occurrences, recent and widespread declines, threats, or other factors.

• S4: Apparently Secure – At a fairly low risk of extirpation in the state due to an extensive range and/or many populations or occurrences, but with possible cause for some concern as a result of local recent declines, threats, or other factors.

• S5: Secure – At very low or no risk of extirpation in the state due to a very extensive range, abundant populations or occurrences, and little to no concern from declines or threats.

• SNR: Unranked – State rank not yet assessed. Additional Notes on NatureServe Ranks

• Rank Qualifiers

o Taxa which are subspecies receive a taxon rank (T-rank) in addition to the G-rank. Whereas the G-rank reflects the condition of the entire species, the T-rank reflects the global status of just the subspecies. o Q = Questionable taxonomy that may reduce conservation priority — Distinctiveness of this entity as a taxon at the current level is questionable; resolution of this uncertainty may result in change from a species to a subspecies or hybrid, or inclusion of this taxon in another taxon, with the resulting taxon having a lower-priority (numerically higher) conservation status rank. The “Q” modifier is only used at the global level, not at the state level.

• Uncertainty about the status of an element is expressed in two major ways:
o By expressing the ranks as a range of values: e.g., S2S3 indicates the
rank is somewhere between S2 and S3.
o By adding a “?” to the rank: e.g., S2?; this represents more certainty than
S2S3, but less certainty than S2. vi




IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria

EX - Extinct
EW - Extinct in the Wild
CR - Critically Endangered
EN - Endangered
VU - Vulnerable
NT - Near Threatened
LC - Least Concern
DD - Data Deficient
NE - Not Evaluated





Listing and Special Status Information


CALIFORNIA ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT (CESA) LISTING CODES
: The listing status of each species is current as of the date of this list. The most current changes in listing status will be found in the “Endangered and Threatened Animals List,” which the CNDDB updates and issues quarterly. Additional information can be found on the California Fish and Game Commission CESA web page.

• SE - State listed as endangered
• ST - State listed as threatened
• SCE - State candidate for listing as endangered
• SCT - State candidate for listing as threatened
• SCD - State candidate for delisting


FEDERAL ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT (ESA) LISTING CODES: The listing status is current as of the date of this list. The most current changes in listing status will be found in the “Endangered and Threatened Animals List,” which the CNDDB updates and issues quarterly. Federal listing actions are published in the Federal Register.

• FE - Federally listed as endangered
• FT - Federally listed as threatened
• FPE - Federally proposed for listing as endangered
• FPT - Federally proposed for listing as threatened
• FPD - Federally proposed for delisting
• FC - Federal candidate species (former Category 1 candidates)

Section 4(c)(2)(A) of the Act requires the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service to conduct a review of listed species at least once every five years. Five year reviews are available from the Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office or from the National Marine Fisheries Service.


OTHER STATUS CODES: The status of species on the Special Animals List according to other conservation organizations is provided below. Taxa on these lists are reviewed for inclusion in the CNDDB Special Animals List, but are not automatically included. For
example, taxa that are regionally rare within a portion of California may not be included, because they may be of lesser conservation concern across their full range in California.


Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Sensitive: Bureau of Land Management
Manual §6840 states that “BLM sensitive species are: (1) species listed or proposed for listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and (2) species requiring special management consideration to promote their conservation and reduce the likelihood and need for future listing under the ESA, which are designated as Bureau sensitive by the State Director(s). All Federal candidate species, proposed species, and delisted species in the 5 years following delisting will be conserved as Bureau sensitive species.” Downloadable copies of the California-BLM Special Status Animals and Sensitive Species Lists are available.

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF) Sensitive: California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection classifies “sensitive species” as those species that warrant special protection during timber operations. The list of “sensitive species” is given in §895.1 (Definitions) of the California Forest Practice Rules.

CDFW Fully Protected: The classification of Fully Protected was the State's initial effort to identify and provide additional protection to those animals that were rare or faced possible extinction. Lists were created for fish, amphibians and reptiles, birds, and mammals. Most of the species on these lists have subsequently been listed under the California and/or federal endangered species acts; the exceptions are white-tailed kite, golden eagle, trumpeter swan, northern elephant seal, and ring-tailed cat. The white-tailed kite and the golden eagle are tracked in the CNDDB; the trumpeter swan, northern elephant seal, and ring- tailed cat are not. The Fish and Game Code sections dealing with Fully Protected species state that these species "...may not be taken or possessed at any time and no provision of this code or any other law shall be construed to authorize the issuance of permits or licenses to take any fully protected" species, although take may be authorized for necessary scientific research. This language arguably makes the "Fully Protected" designation the strongest and most restrictive regarding the "take" of these species. In 2003, code sections dealing with Fully Protected species were amended to allow the Department to authorize take resulting from recovery activities for state-listed species. More information on Fully Protected species and the take provisions can be found in the Fish and Game Code: birds at §3511, mammals at §4700, reptiles and amphibians at §5050, and fish at §5515). Additional information on Fully Protected fish can be found in the California Code of Regulations, Title 14, Division 1, Subdivision 1, Chapter 2, Article 4, §5.93. The category of Protected Amphibians and Reptiles in Title 14 has been repealed.

CDFW Species of Special Concern (SSC): It is the goal and responsibility of the Department of Fish and Wildlife to maintain viable populations of all native species. To this end, the Department has designated certain vertebrate species as “Species of Special Concern” because declining population levels, limited ranges, and/or continuing threats have made them vulnerable to extinction. The goal of designating SSCs is to halt or reverse their decline by calling attention to their plight and addressing the issues of concern early enough to secure their long-term viability. Not all SSCs have declined equally; some species may be just starting to decline, while others may have already reached the point where they meet the criteria for listing as a threatened or endangered under state and/or federal endangered species acts.

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species: The IUCN assesses, on a global scale, the conservation status of species, subspecies, varieties, and even selected subpopulations in order to highlight taxa threatened with extinction, and therefore promote their conservation. Detailed information is available from the IUCN Red List Online.

United States Forest Service (USFS) Sensitive: The USDA Forest Service defines sensitive species as plant and animal species identified by a regional forester that are not listed or proposed for listing under the federal Endangered Species Act for which population viability is a concern, as evidenced by significant current or predicted downward trends in population numbers or density, or significant current or predicted downward trends in habitat capability that would reduce a species’ existing distribution. Regional Foresters shall identify sensitive species occurring within the region. More information on California species can be found on the Pacific Southwest Region (Region 5) Plants and Animals site, including links to download the Regional Forester’s Sensitive Animal Species List.

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