In this activity, students work in small groups to rank a number of native reptiles and amphibians according to their conservation threat status or risk of extinction.

By the end of this activity, students should be able to:

  • better understand key conservation terms including ‘extinction’, ‘endangered’, ‘threats’ and ‘habitats
  • better understand the importance of a recognised ranking system
  • describe typical criteria used by scientists to rank animals according to their conservation threat status
  • understand more about human impacts on living things and the most common threats to reptiles and amphibians in New Zealand
  • appreciate why it is a difficult job to assign a conservation ranking to a species and that scientists may not always agree.

Download the Word file (see link below) for:

  • introduction/background notes
  • instructions on what you need and what to do
  • discussion questions
  • ideas for extending your students
  • species cards.

Nature of Science

Assigning a conservation ranking to a species is an important process that requires input from a number of scientific experts. Rankings are not fixed and may change as new information becomes available.

Useful links

The IUCN criteria for ranking animals according to their threat status can be downloaded from the website.
www.iucnredlist.org/technical-documents/categories-and-criteria

Additional information about the New Zealand Threat Classification System is in this pdf published by the Department of Conservation (DOC).
www.doc.govt.nz/documents/science-and-technical/bbb9.pdf

Visit the EDGE of Existence website to find out more about this unique programme that ranks animals according to their evolutionary distinctiveness and global risk of extinction. Archey’s frog ranks as number one on their list of EDGE (Evolutionary Distinct and Globally Endangered) amphibians.
www.edgeofexistence.org/

    Published 18 January 2010