IUCN Species Survival Commission

The IUCN Species Survival Commission is a special commission operated by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The commission's "major role is to provide information to IUCN on biodiversity conservation, the inherent value of species, their role in ecosystem health and functioning, the provision of ecosystem services, and their support to human livelihoods."[1]

Specialist Groups and Task Forces

The SSC operates a multitude of specialist groups and task forces under its wing. Each group is specifically inclined towards the conservation of a specific taxon or organismal grouping. Each specialist group usually has its own members, agenda, official website and publishes its own scientific journal or newsletter.

Each specialist groups are arranged together by taxon.

Amphibian and Reptile Specialist Groups

Amphibian Specialist Group

The Amphibian Specialist Group (ASG) is a global network of dedicated experts who donate their time and expertise to create a community from where practical amphibian conservation can be advanced based on a solid foundation of science. This global network consists of over 700 members in over 40 Regions/Countries enabling the ASG to act on a global scale. The Amphibian Specialist Group website contains information on projects and partnerships around the world and includes a number of publications relating to the conservation of amphibians, most notably the Amphibian Conservation Action Plan (ACAP).

Anoline Lizard Specialist Group

The Anoline Lizard Specialist Group was founded in 2011 with the goals of assessing the conservation status of almost 400 Anolis species in the iguanian family Dactyloidae, identify the threats to these lizards, and developing plans to conserve the species that are most imperilled, through international collaboration. The Anoline Lizard Specialist Group website is operated by herpetologists dedicated to the most species-rich terrestrial vertebrate genus.

Boa and Python Specialist Group

The Boa and Python Specialist Group (BPSG) was founded in 2011 and comprises a global network of herpetologists, conservationists, government and non-government representatives, and researchers working to understand and conserve almost 190 species of boas, pythons, dwarf boas, shieldtails, Asian pipesnakes, American pipesnakes, dwarf pipesnakes, Round Island boas, Calabar burrowing python, Mexican burrowing python, sunbeam snakes, and spine-jawed snakes. The group produced a / Boa and Python Specialist Group brochure highlighting the species these families, their distribution, and the threats they face.

Chameleon Specialist Group

The Chameleon Specialist Group (CSG) was formed in 2010, with a mission to improve the conservation status and sustainable use of wild chameleons and their habitats, through Africa, Madagascar, other Indian Ocean islands, southern Europe, south India and Sri Lanka.

Crocodile Specialist Group

The Crocodile Specialist Group (CSG) focuses on the conservation of the world's crocodilian species.[2] In 1992, the group produced a book on crocodilian conservation entitled Crocodiles: An Action Plan for Their Conservation.[3] This was followed in 1998 by a second edition, entitled Crocodiles: Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan.[4] The Crocodile Specialist Group website contains details of the conservation work of the group and information on all 23 currently recognised species of alligators, caimans, crocodiles, the false gharial and the Ganges gharial. The group also published Action Plans for each of these species, a regular Newsletter of the CSG and since 1971, the Annual Proceedings of the Working Meetings.

Iguana Specialist Group

The Iguana Specialist Group (ISG) is concerned with the conservation of 45 lizards in the family Iguanidae in North, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and the Galapagos and Fijian Islands. Included are the marine iguanas (Amblyrhynchus), Melanesian iguanas (Brachylophus), Galápagos land iguanas (Conolophus), spiny-tailed iguanas (Ctenosaura), rock iguanas (Cyclura), desert iguanas (Dipsosaurus), green iguanas (Iguana), and chuckwallas (Sauromalus).

Sea Snake Specialist Group

The Sea Snake Specialist Group (SSSG) is concerned with the marine snakes of the elapid subfamilies Hydrophiinae and Laticaudinae, 62 species of true seasnakes, and eight species of sea kraits respectively. All are front-fanged venomous snakes with paddle-shaped tails. A number of species exhibit extremely localised ranges, whilst others are widely distributed. Some are harvested heavily for the snake-skin trade or food.

Marine Turtle Specialist Group

The Marine Turtle Specialist Group (MTSG) is one of more than 100 specialist groups and task forces that make up the IUCN Species Survival Commission. Its mission is: "To develop and support strategies, set priorities, and provide tools that promote and guide the conservation of marine turtles, and their ecological roles and habitats."[5] It was founded in 1966, when Sir Peter Scott asked Dr Archie Carr to chair the group and appoint members. The group now has over 210 volunteer members from more than 80 countries and is considered to be the global authority on sea turtles.[6]

Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Group

The Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Group (TFTSG) is dedicated to terrestrial and freshwater chelonians. Their mission is to identify and document threats to the survival of all species of tortoises and freshwater turtles, and to help catalyze conservation action to ensure that none become extinct and that sustainable populations of all species persist in the wild. They published Conservation Biology of Freshwater Turtles and Tortoises.[7]

Viper Specialist Group

The Viper Specialist Group (VSG) was formed through a cooperation between the IUCN and The Orianne Society. There are over 250 species of vipers distributed across all continents with the exception of Australia and Antarctica. The majority of these species are declining in populations. The Viper Specialist Group is dedicated to viper conservation worldwide.


Directory of SSC Specialist Groups for Birds

Heron Specialist Group

The Heron Specialist Group is a collaborative group of researchers and conservationists focused on the biology and conservation of the herons of the world. Herons are 64 species of long legged, long necked birds in the family Ardeidae. The Group was founded in 1984 by James Kushlan and Heinz Hafner and as of 2008 has over 200 members. It has organized several synthetic studies of herons, published as Heron Conservation (James A. Kushlan and Heinz Hafner, 2000, Academic Press), The Herons (James A. Kushlan and James Hancock, 2005, Oxford University Press), and Conserving Herons, A Conservation Action Plan for the Herons of the World (James A. Kushlan, Station Biologique de la Tour du Valat, Les Sambuc, France). The latter presents the status of the populations of the herons of the world and outlines strategies and specific projects for the conservation of herons.


Directory of SSC Specialist Groups for Fishes

Groupers and Wrasses Specialist Group

The Groupers and Wrasses Species Survival Commission Specialist Group focuses on conservation efforts for species of fish in the families Serranidae and Labridae. Many members of these families are heavily exploited as food and sport fishes.[8]

Salmonid Specialist Group

The Salmonid Specialist Group specializes in the conservation of species of fish under the order Salmoniformes.

Shark Specialist Group

The IUCN Shark Specialist Group was founded in 1991 by L. Fowler OBE and Professor Samuel (Sonny) Gruber. The group is currently chaired by Prof. Nicholas K. Dulvy and Prof. Colin A. Simpfendorfer for the quadrennium (2012-2016). The SSG is a group of 128 experts from 35 countries distributed among 12 regional groups (roughly reflecting FAO fishing areas) in the fields of shark biology, conservation, management, fisheries and taxonomy, connected by their joint goal to promote the sustainable use, wise management, and conservation of all ~1250 sharks, rays and chimaeras. Their mission is to secure the conservation, management and, where necessary, the recovery of the world's sharks, rays and chimaeras by mobilizing global technical and scientific expertise to provide the knowledge that enables action.

Sturgeon Specialist Group

The Sturgeon Specialist Group specializes in the conservation of species of fish under the family Acipenseridae.

IUCN/WI Freshwater Fishes Specialist Group

The IUCN/WI Freshwater Fishes Specialist Group focuses on conservation efforts towards the freshwater fishes of the world.


Directory of SSC Specialist Groups for Fungi


Directory of SSC Specialist Groups for Invertebrates


This category includes 35 groups.[9]

Afrotheria Specialist Group

This group includes aardvarks, hyrax, golden moles, tenrecs and elephant shrews or sengis.[9]

Asian Wild Cattle Specialist Group

Asian Wild Cattle Specialist Group Homepage

Bear Specialist Group

The Bear Specialist Group is the bear taxon expert focal group. In coordination with the International Association for Bear Research and Management, also known as the International Bear Association (IBA), the group provides information on biodiversity conservation, faunal group function in range countries, and ecosystem health as it pertains to bear habitat. The SSC members provide scientific advice to NGOs, government agencies and other IUCN members and support the implementation of multilateral environmental agreements affecting the eight extant species of bears and their habitat. Members of the specialist group provide guidance to bear conservation projects and initiatives, such as restoration efforts, and the handling of confiscated specimens. The Bear Specialist Group also includes a representative from the Polar Bear Specialist Group. The co-chairs of the Bear Specialist Group are Drs. Dave Garshelis and Rob Steinmetz.[10]

Canid Specialist Group

This group (CSG) includes foxes, jackals, African wild dogs, and wolves.[9]

Caprinae Specialist Group

This group includes wild sheep and goats.[9]

Cat Specialist Group

The Cat Specialist Group was founded in 1971. Professor Paul Leyhausen of the Max Planck Institute for Behavioural Physiology in Germany was elected Chairman, and held the chair until 1982. He was succeeded by Dr Norman Myers, a British conservation scientist. In 1983 Peter Jackson, a British specialist on the tiger, was appointed to the Chair, and held this position until his retirement in 2000. He was succeeded by Swiss carnivore specialists, Drs Urs and Christine Breitenmoser.[11]

The main tasks of the group include: maintaining the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species for the cat species; advising governmental and private organisations engaged in species conservation; developing conservation strategies and action plans; establishing and distributing information on the status and conservation needs of all wild cat species through its own publication "Cat News" (published bi-annually since 1984)[12] and the Cat SG website;[13] education and training of nature conservation experts (capacity development).[14]

It currently has more than 200 members in 57 countries, who are dedicated to advance the understanding and conservation of the world's 38 wild living cat species.[15]

Cetacean Specialist Group

This group includes dolphins, porpoises and whales.[9]

Equid Specialist Group

This group includes horses, asses and zebras.[9]

Lagomorph Specialist Group

This group includes rabbits, pikas and hares.[9]

Pinniped Specialist Group

This group includes seals and walruses.[9]

Polar Bear Specialist Group

The Polar Bear Specialist Group is the authoritative source for information on polar bears. The current Chair is Dag Vongraven.[16]

Primate Specialist Group

The Primate Specialist Group (PSG) was created and organized in 1977 by Dr. Russell Mittermeier, the current Chair and also the president of Conservation International (CI). The Deputy Chair is Dr. Anthony Rylands,[17] also from CI. There are two Vice-Chairs, one for each Section. The Vice-Chair for the Section on Small Apes is Dr Benjamin Rawson,[17] from Fauna & Flora International and the Vice-Chair for the Section Large Apes is Dr Liz Williamson[17] from University of Stirling. The PSG is a network of scientists and conservationists dedicated to the preservation of the world's primates, and assist by promoting research on the ecology and conservation of primates. With the help of experts in the field, the PSG evaluates the conservation status of all primates, which contributes to the IUCN Red List. The PSG also generates Action Plans aimed at helping specific groups of species and provides newsletters and journals for scientific publications. These publications cover all four global primate regions: Africa, Asia, Madagascar, and the Neotropics. It's broadest journal, Primate Conservation publishes research about threatened primate species.[18]
The Primate Specialist Group has two Sections: The Section on Great Apes[19] and the Section on Small Apes.[20]

Section on Small Apes

The Section on Small Apes specialises in the protection of gibbons and siamangs of South-East Asia.[20] The SSA is a group of gibbon experts from around the world that individually and collectively work to conserve gibbons. The SSA was set up in 2011 because of the serious threat of extinction that gibbons face globally. Of 19 recognized species of gibbon, all are threatened with extinction on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, with four listed as Critically Endangered and nine as Endangered. The major threats to gibbons include loss of habitat and hunting pressure, often for the wildlife trade.[20]

Sirenia Specialist Group

This group includes dugongs and manatees.[9]

Small Mammal Specialist Group

The Small Mammal Specialist Group (SMSG) was formed in 2010 and is co-chaired by Dr Richard Young, Head of Conservation Science at the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, and Dr Don Wilson of the Smithsonian Institution. The SMSG is a network of scientists and conservationists working to promote a greater understanding of and conservation for the world's rodents, eulipotyphlans (hedgehogs, shrews, moles and solenodons) and tree shrews. These taxonomic groups are made up of over 2700 species, representing around half of all mammals. Led by Dr Giovanni Amori, the Red List Authority Focal Point, the SMSG evaluates the conservation status of all small mammals, which contributes to the IUCN Red List.

South American Camelid Specialist Group

This group includes guanacos and vicuñas.[9]


Directory of SSC Specialist Groups for Plants


Disciplinary Groups

Directory of SSC Disciplinary Groups

Conservation Breeding Specialist Group

Conservation Breeding Specialist Group website The Conservation Breeding Specialist Group (CBSG) is a worldwide conservation network dedicated to saving threatened species by increasing the effectiveness of conservation efforts worldwide. “Conservation Breeding" is a species conservation strategy. It employs the scientifically managed breeding of threatened wildlife for creation and maintenance of populations that serve to enable, support, or enhance the conservation of wild populations.

CBSG is recognized as a respected force using innovative, scientifically sound, collaborative processes to bring together people and knowledge to effect positive conservation change. CBSG is a part of the Species Survival Commission of the IUCN. Its ties to the IUCN are essential to the strength of the CBSG and its position as a vital link among governments, conservation organizations, and others in the conservation community.

CBSG's mission is to save threatened species by facilitating successful integration of conservation efforts worldwide. CBSG links conservation breeding institutions (such as zoos, aquariums, botanic gardens and others) with other stakeholders helping each to contribute more effectively to the conservation of species in wild habitats.

CBSG's work in conservation is based on a central philosophy: that people from many different backgrounds and perspectives are required to address the global biodiversity crisis. Therefore, CBSG emphasizes the exchange of information across diverse groups to reach agreement on the important challenges facing humans and wildlife. They do this by designing interactive, participatory workshops that provide an objective environment, expert knowledge, and thoughtful group facilitation. CBSG's workshop “toolkit” for conservation professionals is based on using sound scientific principles, and promotes the creative use of new information to refine existing wildlife management practices. Through developing a broad understanding of challenges and alternative solutions, workshop participants can produce meaningful and practical management recommendations that generate political and social support for conservation action—from local communities to national political authorities. Timely production of workshop reports has immediate impact on stakeholders and decision makers.

Invasive Species Specialist Group

The Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) is a global network of scientific and policy experts on invasive species, organized under the auspices of the Species Survival Commission (SSC) of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). ISSG aims to reduce threats to natural ecosystems and the native species they contain by increasing awareness of invasive alien species, and of ways to prevent, control or eradicate them. ISSG was established in 1993 by the SSC, comprising a global network of scientific and policy experts on invasive species. The ISSG in 2015 is made up of 203 experts drawn from over 35 countries. A wider informal membership of over 1700 practitioners and researchers contribute to its work. The ISSG promotes and facilitates the exchange of information and knowledge on invasive alien species across the globe and ensures the linkage between knowledge, practice and policy so that decision making is informed. The core activity areas of the ISSG are policy and technical advice, and information management and exchange through development of knowledge products and networking. The ISSG was chaired by Mick Clout from 1993-2008, and by Piero Genovesi from 2009 to the present. The ISSG over the past two decades has dedicated its activities to policy support, advocacy and the management and dissemination of global IAS data and information. ISSG published the twice-yearly Aliens Newsletter and hosts the Global Invasive Species Database, considered the most authoritative data repository on invasive species.

Invasive Species Specialist Group website Hosts the Global Invasive Species Database . Publishes the newsletter Aliens.

Re-introduction Specialist Group

Re-introduction Specialist Group website

Sustainable Use Specialist Group

Sustainable Use Specialist Group profile

Wildlife Health Specialist Group

Wildlife Health Specialist Group website

Task Forces & Working Groups

Directory of SSC Task Forces & Working Groups

Asian Vulture Task Force

Large Carnivore Initiative for Europe Working Group

Species Conservation Planning Task Force

Restructuring Task Force

See also


  1. "IUCN - About the Species Survival Commission". International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 8 September 2010.
  2. "Crocodile Specialist Group". IUCN - SSC - Crocodile Specialist Group. Retrieved 8 September 2010.
  3. Thorbjarnarson, J.; Messel, H.; King, F.W.; Ross, J.P., eds. (1992). Crocodiles: An Action Plan for Their Conservation. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN. pp. vii+136. ISBN 2-8317-0441-3.
  4. Ross, J.P., ed. (1998). Crocodiles: Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. Cambridge, United Kingdom: IUCN. pp. viii+96. ISBN 2-8317-0060-4.
  5. "Vision & Mission". IUCN Marine Turtle Specialist Group. Retrieved 6 September 2015.
  6. "History". IUCN Marine Turtle Specialist Group. Retrieved 6 September 2015.
  7. Rhodin, A.G.J.; Pritchard, C.H.; van Dijk, P.P.; Saumure, R.A.; Buhlmann, K.A.; Iverson, J.B.; Mittermeier, R.A., eds. (2014). Conservation Biology of Freshwater Turtles and Tortoises. Lunenberg, Massachusetts, USA: Chelonian Research Foundation Monograph 5. pp. 1–1093. ISBN 0-9653540-9-1.
  8. "Groupers and Wrasses Specialist Group". IUCN Groupers and Wrasses Specialist Group. Retrieved 8 September 2010.
  9. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 "IUCN SSC Mammals". Retrieved 17 May 2016.
  10. Bear Specialist Group
  11. http://www.catsg.org/index.php?id=43
  12. http://www.catsg.org/index.php?id=7
  13. http://www.catsg.org/index.php?id=1
  14. http://www.catsg.org/index.php?id=3
  15. http://www.catsg.org/index.php?id=46
  16. IUCN/SSC Polar Bear Specialist Group
  17. 1 2 3 Primate Specialist Group http://www.primate-sg.org/primate_specialist_group/. Retrieved 30 July 2015. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  18. "Primate Specialist Group – Who We Are". Retrieved 22 June 2014.
  19. "The Section on Great Apes". Retrieved 27 July 2015.
  20. 1 2 3 "IUCN SSC Primate Specialist Group's Section on Small Apes (SSA)". Retrieved 27 July 2015.
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