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Important Amphibian and Reptile Areas

Welcome to the Important Amphibian and Reptile Areas (IMPARA) website.
This site is part of the Canadian Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Network.

Site Criteria

The Important Amphibian and Reptile Areas Program (IMPARA) Site Criteria are intended to be guidelines for identifying the importance of a site, and are somewhat flexible, depending on the specifics of the site. These criteria are intended to be the first step in a dialogue between the nomination compiler and CARCNET.

There are three kinds of IMPARA sites:

  1. Sites containing species of conservation concern.
  2. Sites containing a high diversity of species.
  3. Sites that fulfill important life history functions.

1. Species of Conservation Concern
A site holds significant numbers1 of individuals of a species 2 that is of conservation concern at one or more of the following levels:

  1. Globally designated as Threatened (Critically Endangered, Endangered and Vulnerable) by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature ( IUCN).
  2. Nationally designated as At Risk (Endangered, Threatened, and Species of Special Concern (formerly 'Vulnerable')) by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) or the General Status of Wild Species in Canada Working Group.
  3. Provincially/Territorially designated as At Risk by: COSEWIC, a provincial Ministry of Natural Resources, the General Status of Wild Species in Canada Working Group, or a provincial/regional Conservation Data Centre.
1 Defining what is meant by a "significant" number of individuals of any species is difficult given the diversity of life histories, geographic distributions and abundances of amphibians and reptiles. Here are three methods to define a significant number of individuals:
  1. The site holds greater than or equal to 1% of a species' Canadian population.
  2. The site is one of 50 or fewer sites, or is one of the 50 most important sites supporting the Canadian population of a species.
  3. A species has been reliably documented as being present at the site.
These three methods require different qualities and quantities of information. They reflect the reality that a great deal is known about some species of amphibians and reptiles, and relatively little about the majority. Therefore, we encourage nominators to include as much information as they can in their nomination. For example, when it is possible to estimate the number of individuals at a site as well as in all of Canada, then method 1 should apply. Otherwise, if the total number of sites at which the species occurs is known, method 2 should apply. Finally, the mere fact that a species is reliably present at the site may be sufficient evidence to designate the site as important (method 3). In addition, sites from which a species has been extirpated may also be nominated if habitat restoration and/or re-introductions are underway or planned.

2 CARCNET uses the broad definition of a species used by COSEWIC, which defines species as, "Any indigenous species, subspecies, variety or geographically defined population of wild fauna and flora." (COSEWIC 1999).

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2. High Diversity of Species
A site regularly holds a large proportion of the amphibian and/or reptile species 3 known to be present within the nation, province/territory, region, or another spatial scale.

The goal of this criterion is to identify sites that contain higher than average numbers of species. Species diversity varies significantly from region to region across Canada, and lower latitudes generally have more species than higher latitudes. This means that a significant proportion of the herpetofauna in one region may be relatively insignificant in another region, and vice versa. Therefore, it is up to the nominator to define the geographic scale (i.e. national, provincial/territorial, regional, or other) under consideration, and to demonstrate how the site's diversity is relatively high.

Nominators may also choose to make their case based on various taxonomic levels. For example, the site may hold a large proportion of the province's snake species.

3 In the strict sense, species diversity is composed of species richness and species heterogeneity (Krebs 1989). For the purposes of these criteria, species heterogeneity is not considered, as this information is rarely available.

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3. Important Life History Requirements
A site holds exceptionally large numbers of amphibians and/or reptiles that congregate for the purpose of completing some life history activity, e.g. reproduction, hibernation, thermoregulation, etc.

The nominator should define the geographic scale at which this site should be considered important. Nominators should also provide evidence supporting their claim that the congregation of a species at the site is exceptionally large.

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COSEWIC 1999. Canadian Species At Risk, April 1999. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. 26 pp.

Krebs, C. J. 1989. Ecological Methodology. HarperCollins Publishers, New York. 654 pp.