Department of Physiology University of California Medical School Los Angeles, CA 90024 Whitten, Bishop, Nash, and Clayton (1987; see pp. 4248) report that recent ornithological surveys of Sangihe Island in Indonesia failed to encounter a previously described species of small bird endemic to that island, the Sangihe flycatcher. Recent surveys of the larger Indonesian island of Sulawesi (Celebes) similarly failed to encounter three endemic species of small fish. The. authors conclude that these species may be extinct. At fust, these findings may appear particularistic and unlikely to command headlines in Indonesia, let alone elsewhere. In fact, they are of potentially broad significance, for they illustrate a serious recurrent problem in assessments of the present extinction crisis. Lists of taxa judged extinct or endangered, as exemplified by the IUCN Red Data books, are assembled as follows. Authorities take a species list for a local fauna or flora (e.g., the birds of North America), initially identrfy particular taxa which they suspect might be extinct or endangered, and seek more information about those taxa. It will thus be learned that some of those putatively extinct or endangered taxa are really extant or secure, thereby shortening the preliminary âred list.â The remaining
Conservation Biology – Wiley
Published: May 1, 1987
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