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Welcome to the Wild Species Glossary

A to C | D to F | G to I | J to L |
M to O | P to R | S to Z |

A to C

Accidental: a general status category for a species occurring infrequently and unpredictably, outside their usual range. Because they so rarely occur in Canada, Accidental species are not considered a part of Canada’s species richness.

amphibian: an amphibious organism; especially : any of a class (Amphibia) of cold-blooded vertebrates (as frogs, toads, or salamanders) intermediate in many characters between fishes and reptiles and having gilled aquatic larvae and air-breathing adults.

amphisbaenids: a family of subterranean lizards also known as worm lizards, which are generally limbless and have a cylindrical body and a small, wedge-shaped head adapted for digging

arthropods: large phylum of invertebrates, which includes crustaceans, spiders, insects, millipedes, centipedes, and the fossil trilobites; have a segmented body, a thick exoskeleton, and a large number of jointed appendages acting as jaws, legs, gills, or sense-organs

At Risk: a general status category for a species for which a formal detailed risk assessment (COSEWIC assessment or provincial or territorial equivalent) has been completed and that have been determined to be at risk of extirpation or extinction (i.e., endangered or threatened). A COSEWIC designation of Endangered or Threatened automatically results in a general status rank of At Risk nationally. Where a provincial or territorial formal risk assessment finds a species to be “endangered” or “threatened” in that particular region, then, under the general status system, the species automatically receives a provincial or territorial general status rank of At Risk. In this case, if the species is restricted to that province or territory, it would also automatically receive a national general status rank of At Risk. Note that this rank does not necessarily reflect the global status of the species.

biodiversity: the variety of life, from genes and species to communities, ecosystems, functions, and processes

bird: any of a class (Aves) of warm-blooded vertebrates distinguished by having the body more or less completely covered with feathers and the forelimbs modified as wings.

bryophytes: small plants, including mosses, mostly terrestrial, and attached to the substrate by rhizoids

butterfy: any of numerous slender-bodied (mostly) diurnal insects (order Lepidoptera) with broad often brightly coloured wings.

CESCCC: The Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council (CESCC) was formed in 1998 under the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk in Canada. The Council is made up of provincial and territorial ministers with responsibilities for wildlife and the federal Ministers of the Environment, Fisheries and Oceans and the Minister responsible for Parks Canada. Its mandate includes overseeing the assessment of the status of species and the recovery of species at risk, and communicating the progress to the public. It also serves as a forum for resolving issues that may arise out of the Accord.

cold-blooded: see ectothermic

COSEWIC: Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, which determines the detailed national status of wild Canadian species, subspecies, and separate populations suspected of being at risk

craniate vertebrate: vertebrate with a skull

crustaceans: diverse subphylum of arthropods, which have two pairs of antennae, one pair of mandibles (mouth-parts used for seizing and cutting food), and two pairs of maxillae (limb-link structures located behind the mandibles used when eating)

D to F

ecosystem: a community of organisms interacting with each other and with their physical environment

ectothermic: having a body temperature determined primarily by the temperature of the environment; cold-blooded; poikilothermic

endemic: native to, and restricted to, a particular geographical region

endothermic: warm-blooded; maintaining a body temperature largely independent of the environment

extant: existing or living at the present time

Extirpated/Extinct: a general status category where a species is no longer thought to be present in the province or territory or in Canada (for the case of a national general status rank) or that are believed to be extinct. Extirpated species have been eliminated from a given geographic area but may occur in other areas. Extinct species are extirpated worldwide (i.e., they no longer exist anywhere). Species listed by COSEWIC as extinct or nationally extirpated automatically receive an Extirpated/Extinct general status rank. This rank applies at the national level and in whichever province or territory the species formerly existed. Nationally Extirpated/Extinct species are not considered part of Canada’s species richness. Likewise, species Extirpated from a particular province or territory are not considered part of that regions’ species richness.

extinction: elimination of a taxon (e.g., species)

extirpated: no longer in existence in a particular region, but still living in other areas of the world

Exotic: A general status category for a species that has been moved beyond their natural range as a result of human activity. In this report, Exotic species have been purposefully excluded from all other categories.

fern: any of a large class (Filicopsida) of flowerless spore-producing vascular plants; especially : any of an order (Filicales) of homosporous plants possessing roots, stems, and leaflike fronds.

fish: any of numerous cold-blooded strictly aquatic craniate vertebrates ... that have typically an elongated somewhat spindle-shaped body terminating in a broad caudal fin, [and] limbs in the form of fins.

frond: leaf of a fern, which differs from a typical leaf in that it bears reproductive organs on its surface

G to I

gamete: a mature reproductive cell (usually haploid), which fuses with another gamete of the opposite sex to form a zygote (usually diploid); the male gametes are known as sperm (spermatozoa), and the female gametes as eggs (ova)

gametophyte: the haploid sexual phase of a plant, which exhibits an alternation of generations, from which gametes are produced, usually by mitotic division; the haploid gametophyte is typically formed by meiotic division of a diploid sporo-phyte

general status: the numerical rank (ranging from 0 to 8) of a species as assessed in this report, based upon a series of criteria that capture information where available on population size and distribution as well as any trends (increasing or decreasing) in these attributes, and any known threats to populations or their habitat; species received a general status rank in each province, territory, or ocean region in which they are known to be present, as well as an overall Canada-wide general status rank

geographic distribution: the current area contained within the shortest continu-ous imaginary boundary that can be drawn to encompass all the known, inferred, or projected sites of occurrence, excluding cases of vagrancy and significant areas where the species does not occur

habitat: the locality, site, and particular type of local environment occupied by an organism

habitat fragmentation: the process of dividing a continuous habitat into non-continuous, smaller subunits

haploid: having only a single set of chromosomes

herbivorous: feeding on plants

indicator species: a species, the presence or absence of which is indicative of a particular habitat, community, or set of environmental conditions

insectivore: feeding on insects

introduced species: see exotic species

invertebrate: animal lacking a spinal column

J to L

keystone species: a species having a major influence upon community structure, often in excess of that expected from its relative abundance

liverworts (Hepaticae): a class of Bryophytes whose members live in damp places or in water; a simple liverwort has a small, flat, green, repeatedly forked, ribbon-like body, lying close to the ground; some resemble mosses but without the conducting tissue

M to O

mammal: any of a class (Mammalia) of warm-blooded higher vertebrates (as placentals, marsupials, or monotremes) that nourish their young with milk secreted by mammary glands, have the skin usually more or less covered with hair, and include humans.

marsupials: mammals for which the placenta is very short-lived and does not make as much of a contribution to fetal nourishment as it does in placental mammals; placental development is very limited; the young is born 10–12 days after the breaking of the egg, crawls into the mother’s pouch, and attaches itself to the teat

May be at Risk: a general status category where a species may be at risk of extirpation or extinction and are therefore candidates for a detailed risk assessment by COSEWIC or provincial or territorial equivalents. Note that this rank does not necessarily reflect the global status of the species.

molluscs: soft-bodied, unsegmented invertebrates usually having a calcareous shell, such as snails, octopus, and squids

monotremes: egg-laying mammals with reptilian features, comprising the Platypus and Echidna

NABCI: North American Bird Conservation Initiative, a joint agreement between Canada, the United States, and Mexico to conserve migratory birds

native species: indigenous; living naturally within a given area

natural heritage: natural resources that are passed on to future generations

Not Assessed: a general status category where a species is known or believed to be present regularly in the geographic area in Canada to which the rank applies but have not yet been assessed.

phylum (pl. phyla): in animal taxonomy, one of the major groupings, coming below subkingdom and kingdom, and comprising superclasses and all lower taxa

orchid: any of a large family (Orchidaceae, the orchid family) of perennial, epiphytic, saprophytic, or terrestrial monocotyledonous plants that usually have showy, three-petaled flowers with the middle petal enlarged into a lip and differing from the others in shape (and sometimes colour).

P to R

pinna: one of a number of first-order leaflets in a compound leaf typical of many ferns

pinnule: one of a number of second-order leaflets in a compound leaf, such as is typical of many ferns, where the pinnae are themselves divided into leaflets

placenta: a specialized embryonic organ attached to the uterus wall, by which embryos of viviparous species are nourished and waste products removed; the placenta is derived from the same membranes that surround the embryos in the amniote egg of reptiles, birds, and monotreme mammals

placentals: mammals that bear live young, which are nourished before birth in the mother’s uterus through the placenta

pollinator: organism that transfers pollen from the anther to the receptive area of a flower

population: a group of organisms of one species, occupying a defined area and usually isolated to some degree from other similar groups

population trend: an estimate of the change in the number of individuals over time

range: the limits of the geographical distribution of a species or group

reptile: any of a class (Reptilia) of air-breathing vertebrates that include the alligators and crocodiles, lizards, snakes, and turtles with a body usually covered with scales or bony plates.

rodents: organisms belonging to an order of herbivorous or scavenging mammals in which the incisors are reduced to one pair in each jaw and have enamel that grows continually

S to Z

Secure: a general status category for a species that is not believed to belong in the categories At Risk, May Be At Risk, or Sensitive. This category includes some species that show a trend of decline in numbers in Canada but remain relatively widespread or abundant. Note that this rank does not necessarily reflect the global status of the species.

Sensitive: a general status category where a species is not believed to be at risk of immediate extirpation or extinction but may require special attention or protection to prevent them from becoming at risk. Note that this rank does not necessarily reflect the global status of the species.

species: group of organisms formally recognized as distinct from other groups

species richness: the absolute number of species in a given area

spore: a plant reproductive cell capable of developing into a new individual, directly or after fusion with another spore

sporophyte: the diploid, spore-producing, asexual generation in the life cycle of a plant; typically formed by fusion of haploid gametes

taiga: northern coniferous forest biome; the ecosystem adjacent to the arctic tundra

taxon (pl. taxa): a group of organisms of any rank (e.g., family, genus, species)

taxonomy: the theory and practice of describing, naming, and classifying organisms; systematics; biosystematics

tetrapod: an informal grouping that includes the vertebrate animals that have four

limbs: Amphibia, Reptilia, Aves, Mammalia

therapsid reptile: reptile ancestral to mammals that ranged from the latter part of the Permian to the early Jurassic

traditional ecological knowledge: environmental expertise possessed by indigenous, tradition-based, non-western, non-industrial societies

Undetermined: a general status category for which insufficient data, information, or knowledge is available with which to reliably evaluate the status of a species.



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