Frequently Asked Questions

If you have a FAQ you would like to see answered here, please send it to sara@gov.nt.ca.

NWT General Status Ranking Program /
Species Monitoring Infobase

What is the difference between a General Status Rank and a COSEWIC status?

What are G-ranks and S-ranks?

What are CDCs?

What does a General Status Rank of "May Be At Risk" mean?

How can I use the General Status Ranks in my work?

Can I use the lists of NWT wild species provided in the infobase as official lists?

What can I do if I know of a species found in the NWT that is not described in the infobase?

How can I correct errors in the infobase?

How can I provide more information to the infobase?

What can I do if I do not agree with a General Status Rank for a species?

How can I cite information from the infobase?

How did Traditional and local knowledge contribute to the General Status Ranks?

Where can I find the General Status Ranks for wild species in other territories and the provinces?

What are the differences between the GS ranks in the NWT and in Canada?

Where can I find up-to-date official names for species?

Which field identification guides can I use to identify species in the Northwest Territories?
 

Territorial Species at Risk (NWT) Act

Why do we need a territorial species at risk law when there is already a federal one?

Federal Species at Risk Act (SARA)

SARA FAQ

Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC)

COSEWIC FAQ

 

What is the difference between a General Status Rank and a COSEWIC status?

A General Status (GS) Rank is the result of a coarse evaluation of the status of a species. GS ranks identify, in a very general way, which species are thought to be secure, which are sensitive and which species may be at risk and therefore require more attention or investigation. Species with a GS rank of “May be at Risk” are the highest priority for more detailed assessment by either the jurisdiction or by COSEWIC.

The GS ranks of wild species were evaluated for the first time in all Canadian provinces and territories in the year 2000. The first Canada-wide report on the GS ranks of wild species was published in 2001. It will be updated every five years.

The GS rank project was initiated to fulfill a commitment made under the "Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk" to monitor, assess and report regularly on the status of all wild species.

For more information on species monitoring in Canada, please visit:

Wild Species

Species at Risk Public Registry

A COSEWIC (Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada) status is the result of a detailed assessment of the status of a species. A COSEWIC status identifies whether or not a species is at risk of becoming extinct. Species at risk are those designated as Endangered or Threatened. Since 2001, COSEWIC has been using the results of the General Status Rank project, along with other information, to prioritize which new species the committee will assess in detail.

Note that all species ranked as "At Risk" in the NWT list of General Status Ranks have a COSEWIC status of either Endangered or Threatened.

COSEWIC was been performing detailed species assessments and listing species at risk since 1978. COSEWIC publishes a new list of species at risk every year. The recently tabled (February 2001) federal species-at-risk legislation proposes that COSEWIC be the independent body of experts who list species to be legally designated as At Risk in Canada.

Click here for more information on COSEWIC.

 

What are G-ranks and S-ranks?

CDCs track and assign ranks for a selected list of wild species. The tracking lists differ among Provinces (states or countries). Most species on the CDC tracking lists are rare.

Ranks assigned by CDCs are sometimes also called G-ranks, S-Ranks, "Heritage Ranks" or "Conservation Ranks".

Species (elements) can be ranked at the sub-national level (e.g., Provincial S-Ranks) and at the global level (G-Ranks). In general, scientists from the Association for Biodiversity Information (ABI) assign Global, U.S., and Canadian national ranks. ABI scientists receive guidance from subnational data and from experts on particular taxonomic groups.

To find more information, please visit NatureServe.

 

What are CDCs?

Conservation Data Centres (CDCs, also known as Natural Heritage Information Centres) exist in six provinces, two territories and one region (Atlantic) in Canada. The General Status (GS) ranking exercise used the information and expertise accumulated in CDCs extensively to help rank species in some provinces. There is no CDC in the Nunavut.
Definitions of conservation ranks can be found from the B.C. Conservation Data Centre web-page.

 

What does a General Status Rank of "May Be At Risk" mean?

A "May Be At Risk" rank is NOT a legal designation and has no legal consequences.

 

How can I use the General Status Ranks in my work?

Here are some examples of how the results of this project can be used. Please share your ideas and comments with us!

1) Use the infobase to determine the proportion of species in each group that were ranked as "May be at Risk", "Sensitive", "Secure", "Undetermined" or were not assessed.

2) Use the habitat field in the infobase to determine where

  • most "May be at Risk" and "Sensitive" species occur

  • most "Exotic-Vagrant" species occur

  • most "Undetermined" species occur

3) Make a list of plants and animals for which more information is needed and look for them in your study area. Report your findings and be an official contributor to this project. 

4) Use the threat fields in the infobase to study what kind of threats appear to be the most important in the NWT.

5) Use the ecozone field in the infobase to build official lists of plants and animals for your community or your project area. Crosscheck this list with a list of all the species that members of your community or your study team have identified so far.

6) New results will be published in 2005, and every 5 years after that. One will be able to study where species have improved in status and where our knowledge has improved. 

7) Report the status of species of interest to you in your work. Here is a paragraph providing an example of how to use and cite General Status Ranks:

Three NWT bird species of special interest may be found near Fort Smith: one endangered1 species, the whooping crane, and two species ranked as "may be at risk"2 in the NWT, the yellow rail and the white pelican.

1 COSEWIC. 2000. Full list of species assessed by COSEWIC. (Accessed 15 March 2001).

2 Government of the Northwest Territories. 2000. NWT Species 2000. Yellowknife, NT. 50 p.

Note that all species ranked as "At Risk" in the NWT have a COSEWIC status of either endangered or threatened.

 

Can I use the lists of NWT wild species provided in the infobase as official lists?

Yes. We compiled these lists over the past two years by gathering all the available information published or communicated by knowledgeable people.
However, errors may be present. Please report them to us, as error-free species lists are important for the future evaluation of status ranks and for other users.

 

What can I do if I know a species is found in the NWT but is not listed in the Infobase?

You can report your observations and findings to WILDLIFEObs@gov.nt.ca.

Please, provide your name and address.

If possible, provide a good description of

  • the species
  • location(s) (Latitude and Longitude)

 

How can I correct errors in the Infobase?

Correct information is important for this project.

You can report your observations and comments to WILDLIFEObs@gov.nt.ca.

Please, provide your name and address.

 

How can I provide more information to the Infobase?

You can report your observations and comments to WILDLIFEObs@gov.nt.ca.

Again, please, provide your name and address.

 

What can I do if disagree with a General Status Rank for a species?

You can contribute to the ranking of species status in the NWT. The next revision of the printed version of the General Status Ranks of Wild Species in the NWT will be published in 2005.

Your knowledge is important for this project.

You can report your observations and comments to the Government of the Northwest Territories by e-mail, phone: 867-920-6327, or by writing to: Director, Wildlife Division, Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Government of the Northwest Territories, Box 1320, Yellowknife, NT X1A 2L9.

Please, provide your name and address.

 

How can I cite information from the infobase?

The infobase is a compendium of referenced information summarized solely to help rank the general status of species. Each line of information in the infobase is referenced to the original sources. Sources of information may be printed publications, databases or knowledgeable persons.

The information provided in this infobase may be cited under specific rules:

If the original source is printed material and is available, please CITE THE ORIGINAL SOURCE, and acknowledge use of the Infobase in your work.

If the original source is a knowledgeable person, as referenced in the Infobase by reference codes beginning with H, the information may be cited as:

(Referenced from the CD)

Knowledgeable person's name, Affiliation. YEAR. in Government of the Northwest Territories. NWT Species Monitoring - Infobase. CD Format - Version YEAR. Environment and Natural Resources, GNWT, Yellowknife, NT.

(Referenced from the Web site)

Knowledgeable person's name, Affiliation. YEAR. in Government of the Northwest Territories. NWT Species Monitoring - Infobase. Available online: http://nwtspeciesatrisk.ca (Date accessed).

Environment and Natural Resources, GNWT, Yellowknife, NT.

 

ENR Library

Many references are available from the ENR Library. Check the journals list and online catalogue for availability.

 

How did Traditional and local knowledge contribute to the General Status Ranks?

Traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) and local knowledge are being integrated into this knowledge base by citing printed work and databases on TEK and local knowledge, and by citing knowledgeable people. Along with scientific information, both TEK and local knowledge were essential in ranking the status of NWT wild species. For example:

  • TEK and local knowledge indicated the actual presence of a species (e.g., Long-toed Salamander in Liard Valley).
  • TEK and local knowledge contributed to the number of species known to exist in the NWT.
  • TEK and local knowledge contributed to information relative to each indicator, for example, the number of occurrences (herds etc.), identification of threats, etc.
  • TEK and local knowledge contributed to our understanding of the importance of individual species to our northern social fabric and economy (see "Human/economic considerations" field in the infobase).

All co-management boards responsible for wildlife in the NWT contributed to draft ranks and then reviewed them. During this process, TEK and local knowledge contributed information that changed ranks and increased the number of known species in the NWT (e.g., salmon species and some marine mammals were confirmed present by TEK). Because co-management boards have access to and experience in the use of TEK-based information, they were a major source of TEK information in this exercise. ENR regions and staff also helped, as they have on the ground experience of integrating TEK and local knowledge with wildlife management.

 

Where can I find the General Status Ranks for wild species in other territories and the provinces?

All provinces and territories participated in the Canada-wide ranking exercise. All of them used the same guidelines and GS rank definitions. The ranking process resulted in Canada-wide GS ranks of wild species.

What are the differences between the GS ranks in the NWT and in Canada?

The General Status ranking process in the NWT looked at the status of each species in the NWT, while also taking into account available information:

  • on populations in adjacent provinces (northern British Columbia, northern Alberta, northern Saskatchewan) and territories (Yukon, Nunavut), and
  • on populations of migratory NWT species from wherever they spend a portion of their life cycle (e.g., migratory stop-overs, wintering grounds, breeding grounds outside the NWT).

The General Status ranking process in Canada looked at the status of each species in Canada as a whole, taking into account how each species was doing in each of the provinces and territories where they are occur.

All provinces and territories participated in this ranking exercise. All shared the same guidelines and GS rank definitions.

You can access both Canada-ranks and the ranks in each province and territory (including the NWT) here.

 

Where can I find up-to-date official names for species?

Names of species can change because of new taxonomic work or newly accepted conventions in naming standards. We will endeavour to keep the species names in the database current.

The infobase developed for this General Status ranking exercise describes species according to the nomenclature standards developed and shared by all CDCs and the Association for Biodiversity Information (ABI).

For detailed information on standard names for any species, please visit the NatureServe web-site, and follow links therein.

We have attached links to some organizations recognized as authorities on taxonomy and nomenclature standards for North American species. This information was summarized for your convenience only; these links do not constitute an endorsement by the GNWT.

Mammals

Mammal Species of the World (MSW)

Birds

Check-list of North American Birds 

Vascular Plants

Plant names in the infobase are currently being revised according to the Flora of North America as noted on the NatureServe web-site

Important Note: Several Latin scientific names have been modified since the publication of the textbook generally used to identify plants in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut (Porsild, A.E. and Cody, W.J.. 1980. Vascular plants of continental Northwest Territories, Canada. National Museum of Natural Sciences, Natural Museums of Canada, Ottawa, ON.).

To obtain the accepted recent names of NWT plants, please refer to this infobase, or to the online Flora of North America, or (for most species occurring in both the NWT and the Yukon) to the textbook: Cody, W.J. 1996. Flora of the Yukon Territory. NCR Research Press, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Fishes

FishBase: A Global Information System on Fishes 

Butterflies

North American Butterfly Association

 

Which field identification guides can I use to identify species in the Northwest Territories?

These titles are provided only for your convenience. This list is not comprehensive and does not represent an endorsement. Other works may exist that could provide comparable or better reference material for identifying individual species in the Northwest Territories.

Mammals (terrestrial and marine)

(Large - not a field book) Wilson DE, Ruff S, editors. 1999. The Smithsonian Book of North American Mammals. Smithsonian Institution Press, in association with the American Society of Mammalogists, Washington, DC.

Birds

Robbins, C.S., Brunn, B. and ZIM, H.S. 1983. A guide to field identification. Birds of North America. Golden Press, New York, NY.

National Geographic. 1999. Field guides to Birds of North America. Third edition. National Geographic Society, Washington DC.

Vascular Plants

Plant names have been modified since the early 1990s. Any field guides published before that time may not use the most current scientific Latin names for plants in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. 

(Comprehensive) Porsild, A.E. and Cody, W.J.. 1980. Vascular plants of continental Northwest Territories, Canada. National Museum of Natural Sciences, Natural Museums of Canada, Ottawa, ON.

(For most species occurring in both the NWT and the Yukon) Cody, W.J. 1996. Flora of the Yukon Territory. NCR Research Press, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

(Common species) Johnson. D., Kershaw, L., MacKinnon, A., Pojar, J. 1995. Plants of the western boreal forest & aspen parkland. Lone Pine Pub. Edmonton, Canada.

Freshwater Fishes

Page LM, Burr BM. 1991. A field guide to freshwater fishes: North America north of Mexico. New York: Houghton Mifflin. 432 p.

Butterflies

Layberry RA, Hall PW, Lafontaine JD. 1998. The butterflies of Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. 280 p.

Tiger Beetles

Catling, P. 2006. Tiger Beetles of the Northwest Territories. Agriculture and Agrifood Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada 19 pp. Note: Ranks provided in this report precedes the publication of NWT Species 2006-2010; refer the later publication for current ranks.

Dragonflies and Damselflies

Catling, P. 2004. Odonata of the Northwest Territories - Status Ranking and Preliminary Atlas. Agriculture and Agrifood Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada 19 pp. Note: Ranks provided in this report precedes the publication of NWT Species 2006-2010; refer the later publication for current ranks.

  

Why do we need a territorial species at risk law when there is already a federal one?

The Species at Risk (NWT) Act and the federal Species at Risk Act are complementary to each other. Having a territorial Act allows concerns about species to be addressed at the NWT level. Sometimes, the status of species in the NWT can be different from the status in Canada as a whole. The actions needed to protect the species can be different too.
For species other than migratory birds, fish and marine mammals, outside of federal lands, the protections under the federal Species at Risk Act do not apply as long as the NWT is providing effective protection.
 

Federal Species at Risk Act

Go to SARA FAQ 
 

Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC)

Go to COSEWIC FAQ