Reptile Assessment Forum – Frequently Asked Questions


While this forum is a new tool that we are testing out as a complementary resource for dealing with the large number of species assessments that need to be conducted in order to complete IUCN’s ongoing Global Reptile Assessment, a number of assessment-related queries commonly arise during species assessment workshops. We hope that by making these questions and their answers available to the interested reader, as well as questions specific to the new forum, it will clarify some of the most common questions surrounding assessments. We also include some potential questions about the forum itself.

 

Q: Does the forum mean that there won’t be any more workshops?

 

A: Assessment workshops are still envisaged as being the primary means by which the Global Reptile Assessment proceeds. The typical week-long schedule of an assessment workshop is a proven method of assessing large numbers of species rapidly and obtaining valuable new data, and plays an important role in forming collaborative networks of specialists. These venues also facilitate the involvement of experts from developing countries who may not have sufficiently reliable internet access to contribute to forum-based assessment projects, each of which will typically treat several hundred species.

 

The forum has been developed as a complement to workshop assessments, as a response to an economic climate where funding for assessment purposes has become scarcer and harder to obtain, and is intended primarily to replace email-based assessments for remote or logistically challenging regions, or for geographies and taxonomic groups with too few experts to justify the expenditure of a workshop. The first forum-based assessment project, reptiles of the Horn of Africa, meets most of these criteria. The development of the forum in no way implies that assessment workshops are obsolete, or that funding them is no longer a priority. Furthermore, workshop results can still be posted on the forum, to provide an opportunity to those experts that were not able to attend the workshop to provide some feedback to individual assessments.

 

Q: How does the Reptile Assessment Forum differ from the Amphibian Assessment Forum found here?

 

The Reptile Assessment Forum has been adapted from the Amphibian Specialist Group’s new assessment forum. Assessments are conducted in the same way in both and both are powered by iNaturalist, so if you have experience with one of the forums the other will be very familiar. The key difference between the two is in application. The Amphibian Assessment Forum is linked to a particular taxonomic group with a previously-completed Global Assessment, is supported by an established online network of specialists, and its primary focus is in conducting reassessments of species with existing published Red List accounts. The moderate number of species involved, the more limited additional data needed for reassessments compared with new assessments, and the online nature of much of the Amphibian Specialist Group’s existing work makes an online forum eminently suited to be the primary tool for amphibian reassessments.

 

Ongoing Global Species Assessments, including the Global Reptile Assessment, demand a comprehensive review of each of a large number of species from a broader range of taxonomic groups, most of which have never been previously assessed, and necessitate bringing on board large numbers of new experts who may not be part of existing professional networks in their region and who may not have prior familiarity with either online tools or the Red List process. This different set of challenges demands a different toolkit, and is a large part of the reason why the Reptile Assessment Forum can only be used as a supplement to, not a replacement for, the traditional assessment workshops.

 

Q: How long is an assessment valid for?


A: An assessment becomes technically obsolete if it does not get reassessed within ten years. Species with older, published assessments are included for reassessment within the ongoing Global Species Assessments.

 

Q: I have new information on a species that has been assessed/reassessed within the last ten years. Can it be reassessed?

 

A: We are currently prioritizing the completion of the Global Species Assessments, and therefore reassessments of recently-assessed species are not presently a priority and will not be treated through the forum. Typically species with new information, especially those for which new information suggests an increase in extinction risk or taxonomic changes affecting a species concept (themselves often with corresponding changes in extinction risk), can be reassessed within the ten-year time period. This is best done through a direct approach to the relevant Specialist Group or Red List Authority (see contact details in the Amphibian and Reptile Specialist Groups page here).

 

Q: I have provided information on a species for its reassessment in the forum. When will it be published on the Red List?

 

A: The short answer is that it will depend. The forum should facilitate this by providing an open platform with well-defined dates, but after adding expert input each assessment needs to be reviewed by two independent reviewers, and once it is passed it needs to go through a consistency check by the Red List Unit. Even after an assessment is consistency-checked and passed, it needs to wait for a Red List launch date, as assessments are not posted as they are finalized. We will strive to have the assessment process concluded as soon as possible, and to keep specialists updated about the publication process for species they have helped to assess.

 

Q: There is a species that I really think should be reassessed as soon as possible because of threats, legislation and/or opportunity for conservation action. Is there a way that this assessment could be fast-tracked?

 

A: Yes. If a species is demonstrably at high risk of extinction and there is a pressing need for a quick turnaround, it may be possible to attempt to speed up certain parts of the publication process.

 

Q: The documentation in previous assessments with which I’ve been involved seems to differ to the documentation used in current assessments. Why are you asking for additional information in newer assessments?

 

A: Justification of an assessment relies on having very explicit documentation that facilitates understanding the reasons why a species is assessed in any one particular category. Making both the rationale and the supporting documentation more explicit in terms of supporting documentation (e.g. estimated extent of occurrence, area of occupancy, severe fragmentation, number of threat-defined locations and nature, extent and intensity of a threat, to name some key elements) makes the assessment more robust and easier to understand to someone who was not directly involved in it.

 

Q: I have sent information on one or more species a while ago and I don’t see a new reassessment for this species, either on this forum or on the Red List. Why is this happening?

 

A: Unfortunately we are operating at very low resources at this time, which does not enable us to address the backlog of updates that need to be encompassed into the Red List at the same rate as the information that is being generated.

 

Q: I would like to get some more Red List documents to help me in the assessment process. Where can I access those?

 

A: You can download the documents directly from the Red List website or from the Red List Documentation section of this website [link].

 

Q: I would like to propose a species for reassessment in the forum. What do I need to do?

 

A: Write to us (Philip Bowles)[add email link] or if you know the person who is coordinating an assessment for your region you can write directly to him/her.

Copyright © Dandelion by Pexeto