Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma mavortium), a red-listed species in BC.

 British Columbia is one of Canada's most biologically diverse provinces and, as a result, supports many rare species or species at risk (SAR).  These are species that are rare in the province or federally, that are either naturally rare or rare because of habitat loss, and that may be found throughout the province. However, many are found in a few key regions, including south Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands (Garry oak ecosystems), the South Okanagan, and the South Coast Region (the lower mainland of BC).  These are regions where rare species are threatened by urban development and/or resource extraction.

Species at risk in British Columbia include mammals such as the Northern Fur Seal, Pacific Water Shrew, Townsend's Mole, American Badger, and amphibians such as the Red-legged Frog and the Oregon Spotted Frog.   They also include vascular plants such as the phantom orchid, pink sand-verbena, and showy plox, and non-vascular plants such as the poor pocket moss (Fissidens pauperculus).   A few species are endemic to BC, including one species of earthworm, Bimastos lawrenceae, which is restricted in occurence in the province to a small area (about 20 km) soutwest of Port Alberni on Vancouver Island. 

The province of BC tracks rare and vulnerable species and designates them as red- or blue-listed, depending on how many populations exist in the province, and the degree of threat they face. 

Canada, through the federal Species at Risk Act, recognized some of these are rare nationally, and designates them as federally protected.

 Although focused on Garry Oak Ecosystems, the Garry Oak Ecosystem Recovery Team (GOERT)  ) species at risk web page provides a good write up on species at risk provides a good overview of species at risk, how they are identified, and how they are managed through national recovery plans. 


One essential tool in managing species at risk is a readily available, substantive database of information. In BC several databases provide information on the wild species of the province, and our species at risk:

1)   E-Flora BC and E-Fauna BC:  These biogeographic atlases of the wild species of the province are produced at the University of British Columbia.  They include all species and provide species descriptions, illustrations, and information on distribution, habitat, and ecology.  The atlases cover both marine and terrestrial/freshwater species.   At risk species (red or blue-listed species in BC) may be called up separately)

2)  BC Species and Ecosystem Explorer:  This key database is produced by the provincial government and provides current status information for BC species plus species summaries. Faunal information is focused on 'at-risk' taxa only, while plant information covers all species.

3) Species at Risk and Local Government: A Primer for British Columbia :  This database focuses on providing summary information on the species considered at risk in BC at both regional and provincial levels, and provide quick access to regional lists of species at risk.  It does not include offshore marine species.

Additonal Species at Risk information sources:

British Columbia's Coast Region: Species and Ecosystems of Conservation Concern: Fact sheets on species at risk in the Coast Region of BC (ongoing compilation).



Please cite these pages as:

Author, Date. Page title. In Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2020. Biodiversity of British Columbia [www.biodiversity.bc.ca]. Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver.

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