Selection of priority taxa

A major question during the initial strategy meeting in 2005 was the choice of which species to prioritize of the more than 250,000 marine species. The nearly 17,000 marine bony fishes were chosen as one of the first priorities, as they are relatively well-known taxonomically, and, along with the sea snakes, would represent the completion of global IUCN Red List assessments of all marine vertebrates. Additional non-vertebrate priorities were designated on the basis of ecological and economic importance, and include habitat-forming species (macro-algae, seagrasses, mangroves, and reef-building corals), exploited echinoderms (sea urchins and sea cucumbers), and exploited or habitat-forming molluscs and crustaceans. Bryaninops amplus. Photo credit - Friedhelm Krupp

Workshop methodology

The MBU decided to follow the Biodiversity Assessment Unit workshop methodology to complete the species assessments. This method brings regional and taxonomic scientists together with people well-versed in the application of IUCN Red List criteria in one place to ensure the most up-to-date, scientifically sound, peer-reviewed information is captured for each species. During the workshop, each species account is individually reviewed and supplemented by the experts. This includes the review of prepared digital distribution maps created using a Geographic Information System (ArcGIS). This process is facilitated by the MBU team and trained Programme Officers from the IUCN Global Species Programme. During the workshop, expert participants often contribute unpublished data and knowledge that are otherwise impossible to obtain. The IUCN Red List Criteria are then objectively applied to the data to evaluate relative extinction risk. A resulting Red List Category is then assigned for each species and recorded in the database.