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This glossary is shared by the Species and Ecosystems at Risk, Conservation Data Centre, BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer and Conservation Framework websites.

Click on a term below to link to further information. If you don't find the term you are looking for, please e-mail the British Columbia Conservation Data Centre and we will add it to our glossary.


Accidental   Species occurring infrequently and unpredicatably, outside their usual range. Accidental species are excluded from the Red, Blue and Yellow lists.
Blue list   List of ecological communities, and indigenous species and subspecies of special concern (formerly vulnerable) in British Columbia.
Conservation   Preservation, especially of the natural environment.
Conservation Framework   The Conservation Framework provides a set of decision support tools to enable collaboration between government and non-government resource managers and practitioners using the best available information and clearly defined criteria to: 1) prioritize species and ecosystems for conservation in British Columbia; and 2) determine the most appropriate and effective management actions.
Conservation Framework Action Groups   The broad conservation actions a particular species or ecological community requires based on status, present level of knowledge and legal responsibility, as assessed using the Conservation Framework Action Sorting Tool.
Conservation Framework Goals   GOAL 1: Contribute to global efforts for species and ecosystem conservation. GOAL 2: Prevent species and ecosystems from becoming at risk. GOAL 3: Maintain the diversity of native species and ecosystems.
Conservation Framework Priority   The conservation priority assigned to each species or ecosystem under each of the three Conservation Framework Goals. Values assigned range from 1 (highest) to 6 (lowest) as determined by the Conservation Framework Prioritization Tool. The highest priority among all three Goals is listed first. The priority in each of the three individual Goals is listed next.
COSEWIC   Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada
Cultivated   Cultivated populations are those plant populations that are being grown, attended, and/or propogated by humans outside of the species' natural habitat. They are also grown from plant material obtained from a "cultivated" source.
Ecological Community   This term is used by the B.C. Conservation Data Centre and the NatureServe network. In B.C. it incorporates natural plant communities and plant associations, and includes a wide range of known ecosystems with their environmental site requirements such as soil moisture and nutrients, climate, physiographic features and energy cycles.
Ecosystem   An ecosystem is a dynamic complex of plant, animal, and microorganism communities, climatic factors and physiography, all influenced by natural disturbance events and interacting as a functional unit. Ecosystems vary enormously in size: a temporary pond in a tree hollow and an ocean basin are both ecosystems.
Ecosystem at Risk   An extirpated, endangered or threatened ecosystem or an ecosystem of special concern (formerly called vulnerable).
Element   A species or ecological community. The term "species" is used to include all entities at the taxonomic level of species, including interspecific hybrids, as well as all subspecies and plant varieties. Ecological communities are based primarily on Ministry of Forests and Range vegetation classification and the International Classification of Ecological Communities.
Element Occurrence  

An area of land and/or water in which a species or ecological community is, or was present. An Element Occurrence(EO) should have practical conservation value for the Element as evidenced by potential continued (or historic) presence and/or regular recurrence at a given location. For species Elements, the EO often corresponds with the local population, but when appropriate may be a portion of a population (e.g., long distance dispersers) or a group of nearby populations (e.g., metapopulation). For ecological community Elements, the EO may represent a stand or patch of an ecological community, or a cluster of stands or patches of an ecological community.

Element Occurrence Record   A record from the B.C. Conservation Data Centre containing information about an element occurrence, such as location, condition, and type of occurrence.
Endangered   Facing imminent extirpation or extinction.
EOR   Element Occurrence Record.

Exotic species are non-native species that have become established and/or naturalized in BC as a result of human activity. Exotic species are also known as alien species, foreign species, introduced species, non-indigenous species and non-native species. Exotic species are excluded from the Red, Blue and Yellow lists.

Not all exotic species are invasive. Many simply occupy disturbed sites (e.g. roadsides), and don't displace native species. Invasive species are (usually) exotic species that have moved into natural ecosystems and have altered natural ecosystem characteristics.

The CDC also maintains a "Non-established" vascular plant list that includes non-native taxa (often garden escapes) that have been observed growing outside of cultivation, but that have not yet become established. Non-established taxa are grouped into the following categories: Ephemeral: Lasting for a season or rarely a bit longer, but do not persist. Occasional: Sometimes persisting, but not known to have spread beyond limited sites and usually found near plantings. To access the Non-established list, please visit the EFlora website.

Extant   Still existing. Not extinct or extirpated.
Extinct   Species that no longer exist.
Extirpated   Species that no longer exist in the wild in British Columbia, but do occur elsewhere. Ecological communities that no longer exist in British Columbia, but do occur elsewhere.
GIS   Geographic Information System. Computer software which allows electronic spatial data to be viewed, manipulated, and printed.
Global rank   Global conservation status rank for an element, as determined by NatureServe, based on information provided by Natural Heritage Programs and Conservation Data Centres.
Identified Wildlife   Species at risk in British Columbia that have been designated by the Chief Forester (Ministry of Forests and Range) and Deputy Minister (Ministry of Environment) as requiring special management attention during forest and range operational planning or higher level planning.
Indigenous   Native to B.C.
Natural Heritage Network   The network of Conservation Data Centres and Natural Heritage Programs throughout the Americas. All network members use the same methodology and database to track the rare elements of biodiversity in their jurisdictions.
Natural Plant Community   This term has been replaced by NatureServe and its member programs with "Ecological Community". A natural plant community is a naturally occurring unit of vegetation with a relatively uniform species composition and physical structure and characteristic environmental requirements.
NatureServe   An organization dedicated to providing reliable information on species and ecological communities for use in conservation and land use planning. NatureServe is an independent nonprofit organization created in collaboration with the Network of Natural Heritage Programs and Conservation Data Centres and The Nature Conservancy (U.S.).
Occurrence   See Element Occurrence.
Plant Association   A recurring plant community with a characteristic range in species composition, specific diagnostic species, and a defined range in habitat conditions and physiognomy or structure.
Provincial lists   List of elements considered to be extirpated, endangered or threatened (Red List), special concern (Blue List) or not at risk (Yellow List) in B.C.
Provincial (subnational) rank   Conservation status rank for an element occurring or formerly occurring in B.C.
Red list   List of ecological communities, and indigenous species and subspecies that are extirpated, endangered or threatened in British Columbia. Red-listed species and sub-species may be legally designated as, or may be considered candidates for legal designations as Extirpated, Endangered or Threatened under the Wildlife Act (see Not all Red-listed taxa will necessarily become formally designated. Placing taxa on these lists flags them as being at risk and requiring investigation.
Species at Risk   An extirpated, endangered or threatened species or a species of special concern (formerly called vulnerable).
Special Concern   Particularly sensitive to human activities or natural events but not endangered or threatened [as used by COSEWIC - A wildlife species that may become a threatened or an endangered species because of a combination of biological characteristics and identified threats.] Special Concern was formerly referred to as Vulnerable.
The Nature Conservancy (U.S.)   The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is a private, international conservation group whose mission is to preserve plants, animals and natural communities that represent the diversity of life on earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive. TNC used to oversee the Natural Heritage Network, but that duty has been taken over by NatureServe.
Threatened   Likely to become endangered if limiting factors are not reversed.
TNC   The Nature Conservancy (U.S.).
Tracking   Tracking means to be actively mapping known locations of species and/or ecological communities. The Conservation Data Centre tracks Red- and Blue-listed elements, and also some Yellow-listed taxa that are vulnerable during times of seasonal concentration (e.g., breeding colonies).
Vulnerable   Particularly sensitive to human activities or natural events. [As used by NatureServe - Vulnerable due to a restricted range, relatively few populations (often 80 or fewer), recent and widespread declines, or other factors making it vulnerable to extirpation.]
Yellow List   List of ecological communities and indigenous species that are not at risk in British Columbia.