Animals at Risk Concentrated in Southern BC

Research into the distribution of land animals in British Columbia, Canada finds that most species whose numbers are declining reside in the southern part of the province. Hotspots of species at risk are in the Okanagan Valley, southern Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland, along with the Queen Charlotte Islands.

Another important region, particularly for bird and mammal diversity, is the extreme northwest corner of BC.

The analysis was conducted at a resolution of 640 km² hexagons measuring 27 km across, totalling 1589 parcels for the province. Eighteen of the hexagons provide habitat for all 59 species in BC recognized as at risk in 1998 by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). These same 18 areas also include 87 percent of the province's other terrestrial vertebrate species. Seven of the 18 parcels are unique, with no others suitable for an animal at risk.

Nearly all 25 bird species considered of special conservation concern by the provincial and federal governments have less than 13 percent of their range included in a protected area. Conserved habitat is most scarce for common grackle with 1.6 percent of its range protected, Nelson's sharp-tailed sparrow with 0.5 percent, and purple martin with none of the 2,800 km² it uses in BC currently protected.


Kathryn E. Freemark, Mark Meyers, Denis White, Leanna D. Warman, A. Ross Kiester and Pago Lumban-Tobing. 2006. Species richness and biodiversity conservation priorities in British Columbia, Canada. Canadian Journal of Zoology. 84(1): 20-31.

Back to Top
Science Articles