[Taxacom] when is a common species critically endangered?

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Tue Jun 26 21:08:04 CDT 2012

I thought it was obvious enough what I meant, but let me spell it out:
(1) the subject line wording was just an attention grabber, not to be taken too literally!
(2) I am saying that for plants, there is a distinction (whether it is always perfectly clear or not is irrelevant here) between plants "in the wild", and plants "in cultivation". A classic case is Ginko biloba, which may be globally extinct in the wild (in China), but I walked past about 10 of them on my way here this morning! I can't give you exact definitions of these terms, but I can't be expected to be more precise about them than our conservation agency!
(3) I am saying that for animals (including mites), no such distinction can be made (other distinctions may be able to be made, e.g. domesticated, captive in zoos, etc.), so threat classifications for plants are not strictly comparable to the corresponding threat classification for animals;
(4) therefore, it is wrong to automatically give an animal the same threat classification as its host plant;
(5) with plants, the wild vs. cultivated distinction is surely about reproduction? Cultivated plants don't reproduce and spread by themselves. If they do start to do so, then they are said to "escape from cultivation into the wild", even if "the wild" is just roadsides and gardens, where they might then become a weed;
(6) the mite does reproduce and spread by itself, in uncontrolled and uncontained fashion, whether it be on plants in the wild, or on plants in cultivation, so in *that sense*, it is "in the wild" regardless;
(7) therefore, although plants in cultivation do not count for the purposes of threat classification for the plant, mites on cultivated plants should count for the purposes of threat classification for the mite ...

From: Peter Rauch <peterr at berkeley.edu>
To: TAXACOM <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu> 
Sent: Wednesday, 27 June 2012 1:47 PM
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] when is a common species critically endangered?


You don't explain your rationale for using the criterion of "wild"/"cultivated", nor for what it means to be "endangered" (and are you using that term in some legal way, or simply to mean that the species is in a precarious state of survival), nor for why the mite is "in the wild regardless" (do you mean that the mite is found in the wild on the critically endangered species (which is also found there); or do you mean that the mite is "in the wild" as it is found on the cultivated specimens of the plant ?).

What does "just because its only host plant is ..." mean ?  I.e., what is the implication here ?

And, is it the mite, or the plant, which you refer to in the subject line as "a common species" ?

I think you need to explain.


At 15:34 12/06/26, Stephen Thorpe wrote:
>For plants, this is easy to answer: when it is critically endangered in the wild, but common in cultivation. More interesting is the case of an insect or mite, host specific to such a plant. I am debating this issue at the moment. A mite has been put on the "Nationally Critical" list just because its only host plant is on the "Nationally Critical" list. But I say this is wrong! The plant is common in cultivation, and the mite is also on cultivated plants! For animals, including mites, you can't make an "in the wild" vs. "in cultivation" distinction. Basically the mite is "in the wild" regardless of whether it is on wild or cultivated plants, in my view. What do others think?


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