A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. A population is all the organisms that both belong to the same species and live in the same geographical area. Many of our species are found nowhere else in the world; we call these species 'endemic'.
Threatened species are those plant and animal species considered to be at risk of extinction in the wild.
There are different scales for how a species may be considered threatened:
Why are species threatened?
Native plant and animal species and their populations are exposed to all kinds of threats that vary between species and populations. Common threats include:
- loss, as well as fragmentation and degradation, of habitat
- changed fire patterns (changed frequency, intensity and scale of fire)
- changed quantities and patterns in water and water flows
- competition with introduced plants (eg weeds) or feral/exotic animals for resources (eg food, light, water, shelter)
- predation by introduced animals (eg foxes and feral cats)
- grazing by feral animals (eg rabbits) and livestock)
- pollution and diseases (such as the root rot Phytophthora, an infectious soil and waterborne mould that causes plant dieback)
- illegal collecting, hunting and fishing
- climate change.
Effective management of these threats is vital to help threatened species survive into the future.