Q: Who do I contact with feedback on or suggestions for the assessment forum?
A: If you are in contact with the person moderating the forum project in which you are interested, please liaise with them. In all other situations, you can contact the Amphibian RLA at the following address: rla[at]www.amphibians.org.
Q: Can I host an assessment forum for my country or region?
A: Given the current quality control requirements needed for conservation assessments to be published on the IUCN Red List, and our very limited human resources, we are unable to process large numbers of assessments at this time. Country-level global reassessments may be possible if requests come with the funding and resources necessary to conduct such reassessments, or if the herpetological community of the country or region in question is willing to take over stewardship of its global assessments through its respective regional/national Working Group.
Q: Does the existence of the forum mean that there won’t be any more workshops?
A: Not necessarily. When need and opportunity (i.e. funding and collaborations) intersect, we will explore the workshop option. However, given current economic times, funding for assessment purposes has become scarcer and harder to get, and given that we still need to move forward with maintaining the Red List amphibian database we need to explore other options to update the database. The forum provides one such option. 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: Why does the forum seem to prioritize reassessments instead of new species assessments?
A: The forum is a more efficient medium than email in terms of reaching a wider audience of experts when workshops are not feasible due to funding or logistical constraints. New species assessments are mostly recent discoveries of geographically circumscribed species or species for which there is not much information, so the number of experts involved will be more limited. This means that in these cases it will be most efficient to assess a species on a one-on-one basis via email or Skype. The exception to this will be new or revalidated species resulting from a taxonomic split of a relatively widespread species, where there may be more experts who are familiar with the subpopulations now deemed to be new species found in their research areas.
Q: For how long is an assessment valid?
A: An assessment becomes technically obsolete if it does not get reassessed within ten years. As most (ca. 4400) of the currently published amphibian assessments were assessed as part of the comprehensive GAA initiative in 2004, they will become obsolete by 2014 if they are not reassessed before then.
Q: I have new information on a species that was assessed/reassessed after 2004. Can it be reassessed?
A: We are currently prioritizing updating 2004 assessments because they are the ones that will first become obsolete, in 2014. However, assessments done in subsequent years may also be prioritized if there is new information suggesting that the extinction risk to the species in question may have increased considerably.
Q: There is a species 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 assessment process.
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. In the past, it has proved challenging to receive new input from all parties involved in previous assessments, sometimes because of the sheer number of people involved (some assessments can have upwards of two dozen experts) and sometimes due to their varying degrees of involvement. The forum should facilitate the update process by providing an open platform with well-defined deadlines. However, following the addition of expert input into each assessment, these must go through the independent review process. Once the assessment passes the review and is submitted for publication in the IUCN Red List, it joins a queue of assessments that still need 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.
Q: Why do some reassessments have new maps while others do not?
A: In some cases there will be new distributional records or changes to the known ranges; in these instances we will include a revised map. In cases where there are no new distribution data the valid map will continue to be the published one posted on the Red List.
Q: Why is the forum linking to the iNaturalist maps and records?
A: iNaturalist is a citizen-science initiative that has enormous potential for informing amphibian assessments. We encourage use of iNaturalist’s maps when experts deem that the sources and/or evidence provided are considered to be reliable, but it is ultimately the expert’s decision to use this information or not.
Q: The documentation in 2004 assessments seems to differ to the one 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 (i.e. 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 with a very low level of 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. We have a priority tool that allows us to prioritize materials as they come in, and we have been prioritizing new species, species rediscoveries and taxonomic splits that may merit uplisting in one of the species involved, prior to prioritizing reassessments. We hope that by decentralizing the assessment process, where well-integrated and coordinated National or Regional Working Groups can take stewardship of their global assessments, we can address other pending materials relevant to keeping the amphibian database updated.
Q: Why is the citation of newer assessments different from what it was in 2004?
A: Determining individual contributions across different assessment years was getting to be increasingly problematic. To resolve this we adopted an approach similar to that used by BirdLife International after prior consultation with Amphibian Specialist Group Regional Chairs. More information on the citation format can be accessed on the Citation page. The forum uses this format, although given an IT-related issue with the assessment reports posted on the forum, the order of contributors will be different than what they appear in the database. However, when the assessments are finally published, they will follow the alphabetical-by-first-name format.
Q: Is it possible to include information from an Amphibian Ark Conservation Needs Assessment in the Conservation Actions section of an IUCN assessment?
A: Of course. If this information is already available for any one given species we encourage experts to include it in the feedback they provide to us.
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 at http://www.iucnredlist.org/technical-documents/red-list-documents.
Q: I would like to propose a species for reassessment in the forum. What do I need to do?
A: Write to us (firstname.lastname@example.org) or if you know the person who is coordinating a global assessment for your region you can write directly to him/her.