Learn more about the various search components in the user interface

The search function:

The search function provides numerous ways in which the database can be interrogated to retrieve information. This help file attempts to provide some guidance to users on how the various search options work and how best they should be used. The term 'species' is used throughout this help file in a general sense to indicate any taxonomic level, but specific searches for 'subspecies and varieties' or 'stocks and subpopulations' need to be specified under 'What taxa do you want to see?'

As discussed in the Introduction on the main page, it is important to note that NOT every animal and plant species will be found in this database. The database contains ONLY those species which have been assessed using the 1994 or 2001 IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria and which have been listed as Extinct (EX), Extinct in the Wild (EW), Critically Endangered (CR), Endangered (EN), Vulnerable (VU), Near Threatened (LR/nt or NT), Lower Risk/conservation dependent (LR/cd) or Data Deficient (DD). The vast majority of species, particularly of plants, reptiles, amphibia, fish and invertebrates, will be either Not Evaluated (NE) or Least Concern (LC) i.e. not threatened. Searches for any species in these latter two categories will be unsuccessful.

Unfortunately, due to recent taxonomic or nomenclatural changes, species under a certain name in previous editions of the Red List, may be listed here under a different name. At present there is no facility to search for these previous names or what are more correctly termed synonyms. This functionality will hopefully be added at some point in the future.

Examples of search scenario:

Unless one is searching on a particular geographic region and/or threatened category, the search function relies on a certain degree of knowledge and understanding about plant and animal taxonomy. The most accurate searches are best made using whole or parts of taxonomic names (i.e. the scientific names). However, in order to make the database more widely usable for the general public, the search function allows the user to search by common name (if one exists) in English, French or Spanish. The list of common names is by no means exhaustive and is not in any way standardized. In some cases, alternative spellings such as 'Grey Whale' and 'Gray Whale' are provided, but this is not universally the case. To improve the intelligence of the searches a preliminary list of keywords for all the animal groups on the Red List has been compiled. This will allow users to search using more general words like "animals", "cats", "game birds", "cracid", "snails", "birds of prey", "insects", "beetles", "bats", etc. This is very much a work in progress and the list requires much refinement and additions especially for the plants. Further improvements to the functionality and user-friendliness of the search functions are being investigated.

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This Text Search entry box is where you type in a keyword to search the Red List database. Keywords include name of organism (scientific or common), name of person or organization (assessor/s or evaluators), and other commonly-used English words to describe groups of species such as those listed in the paragraph above.

  • Scientific names from any of the following taxonomic levels can be used: kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus or, species, subspecies or variety. For example, "plantae" (for the plant kingdom), "aves" (for the class birds), "rodentia" (for the rodent family). "lemur catta" (for a particular genus and species) and "africana" (as a species, subspecies or variety name).
  • Common names in English, French or Spanish can be searched for. For example, "whooping crane", "Southern White Rhinoceros" which will pull up specific examples, whereas "bat" may (depending on other selections) result in a list only of species which have "bat" as part of the common name. Avoid using the plural term when entering a species' common name (e.g., "dodo" rather than "dodos"). See also the fourth bullet point below.
  • Names of people or organizations can be used to find all the assessments or Red List evaluations done by a particular person or organization e.g., "Baillie" (for the surname of a person), "Mollusc Specialist Group", "BirdLife International" or "Cetacean Red List Authority" (sometimes abbreviated as RLA).
  • Other keywords may be entered as plural terms, but singular terms can also be used e.g., "snail" or "snails". The plural e.g. "bats" (with a modifier of 'Exact phrase') should be used when wanting a complete list of all the bat species on the Red List. Searches on the singular may produce incomplete lists. For some taxonomic groups it was difficult to come up with a single broad term and instead composites have been used e.g., "mice/rats/voles/gerbils" to describe members of the rodent Family Muridae. For examples of other terms, see above.

IMPORTANT: The keywords can be written in part or in full, but must be used in conjunction with the radio buttons specifying what part of the database you would like to search and the modifiers to help broaden or refine the scope of the search. Keywords are not case sensitive, similarly accents and similar characters can be included or left off. No wild card characters may be used for searches as they are automatically set by the modifier selected.

See also 
Modifier
What part of the database would you like to search?

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These radio buttons are used in conjunction with the Text Search method to help broaden or refine your search. Use, "Exact phrase", when you wish to find records that contain all of the words in your text search box in the specified order (note that this is not the same as an "Exact match" search in other database systems). This produces the narrowest possible collection of matches. Use, "Any term", if you wish to find species records containing words that match any of the individual words specified in your text search box. This modifier produces the broadest possible collection of matches. Use, "All terms", to identify records containing the combination of words listed in your text search string. This modifier produces fewer matches and is useful when you wish to match all of the specified words but do not care about order. Use "contains" if you are not sure of the exact spelling. Use "starts with" if you are certain that any word in the name you are searching for starts with the text string you typed in. It is best to use "Exact phrase" if you are certain the text string you entered is correctly spelled. 

Examples:
To find all whales, porpoises and dolphins specify the text search string, "whale porpoise dolphin", and the modifier, "Any term". To find each turtle with "yellow" in its common name, enter the text search string, "turtle, yellow", and select the modifier, "All terms". Finally, to search for an organism by its scientific name, say, "Cuora aurocapitata ", enter the scientific name into the text search box and select the modifier, "Exact phrase".

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This is used in conjunction with the Text Search option. This group of radio buttons lets you specify which part of the database you would like the search to be based on. You must select one of the options available by clicking on the appropriate button. If unsure, click on the radio button named "The entire database". The "Special animal keywords" option is a new feature to help users locate specific groups of animals by widely used common names, for example "animals", "cats", "game birds", "cracid", "snails", "birds of prey", "insects", "beetles", "bats", "worms", "albatrosses", etc. This option is best used in combination with the modifier "Exact phrase, but for some of the composite keywords like "mice/rats/voles/gerbils" the modifier "contains" would be a better option.  

Examples:
If you are entering a common name of an organism, click on the radio button named "Common name". "Assessor" refers to the individual or organization that is responsible for making the assessment or the subsequent evaluation of the assessment. Use this option if you typed in a person or organization's name. "Taxonomy" refers to the biological nomenclature (kingdom down to subspecies or variety, depending on what options are selected under What taxa would you like to see?). Select this option when you type in "Gastropoda" or "Ginkgo biloba" in the text box. To find all the threatened species of "bats", type in the latter word, click on the radio button "Special animal keywords" and the modifier "Exact phrase", this should produce a list of all 520 species of bat in the database.

Note: Care should be taken when selecting which parts of the database to search under. For example, to find all the threatened species of cats on the database, type the word "cats", click on the "Special animal keywords" option, and select the modifier "Exact phrase". This should produce a list of the 40 species of cat in the database. If you had selected the "Common name" option instead of "Special animal keywords", you would end up with only two species listed, both molluscs with the common name "Cats Paw". Similarly, if you typed in the word "cat" and selected "Common name", you would receive a list of 15 species including a species of otter known as the "Sea Cat", and a species of fish known as the "Spoonbill Cat".

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The default setting for this group of check boxes is 'species', which means that the results of a search, specifying whatever combination of other search criteria, will produce a list of 'species' only, if the search is successful. The search can be expanded to include 'subspecies and varieties' and/or 'stocks and subpopulations', by checking the appropriate boxes. Searches can also be performed for just 'subspecies and varieties' or just 'stocks and subpopulations', or any combination of all three options.

It is possible to use these search options in conjunction with the name of a subspecies, variety, stock or subpopulation in the Text search box. To retrieve these, the relevant name has to be specified, and then by selecting 'Subspecies and varieties' and/or 'Stocks and subpopulations', a list of all subspecies and varieties and/or stocks and subpopulations in the database that match the name specified will be displayed.

Example:
A search on the genus name "Balaena", using all the default settings, produces only a single record for the Bowhead Whale. Checking, the 'stocks and subpopulations' box in addition to the 'species' box produces six records, five of which are for subpopulations or stocks of the Bowhead Whale.

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This group of check boxes lets you retrieve only those records that match the type of environment(s) an organism inhabits. You can select one or more by just clicking on the box. If searches are made on more than one of these biomes, the results are for species found in both or all three of the environments selected.

Example:
If you are interested in inquiring the status of certain aquatic species, you can check both "Marine" and "Freshwater" options before you click on to conduct a search.

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Use this list box to limit search results according to the Red List status of the species. Hold down the Ctrl-key when doing multiple selections. Note that the search results, using this country search option, exclude any species that have been introduced to the country or countries concerned (i.e. only native species are included), irrespective of their Red List status.

Example:
If you are interested in finding all the Endangered or Critically Endangered species, you can select"CR - Critically Endangered" first and then select "EN - Endangered" before you click on to conduct a search. 

Note: For definition of the Red List Categories, please see the Criteria & Categories section on the main page.

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Use this list box to limit search results to specific region or regions of the world. You can select one or more regions. Hold down the Ctrl-key when doing multiple selections.

Example:
If you are only interested in retrieving a list of species found in East Asia, you can simply click on "East Asia" in the list box before you click on to conduct a search. 

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Use this list box to limit search results to specific marine region or regions of the world. You can select one or more regions. Hold down the Ctrl-key when doing multiple selections.

Example:
If you are only interested in retrieving a list of aquatic species found in eastern Atlantic Ocean, you can simply select "Atlantic-eastern central", "Atlantic-northeast" and "Atlantic-southeast" in the list box before you click on to conduct a search. 

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Use this list box to limit search results to specific country or countries. You can select one or more countries. Hold down the Ctrl-key when doing multiple selections. Note that the search results, using this country search option, exclude any species that have been introduced to the country or countries concerned (i.e. only native species are included), irrespective of their Red List status."

Example: 
If you are concerned about the status of a certain species or even all the species in Algeria, you can click on "Algeria" in the list box before you click on to conduct a search. 

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Note: Any combinations from the list boxes described above can be selected. For example, a search could be made for all Critically Endangered Or Endangered Or Vulnerable species that occur in the Mesoamerica region AND in the Arctic Sea marine region. Such a search would produce results for five species. Multiple selections within a list box are treated as 'or' situations i.e. Critically Endangered or Endangered or Vulnerable when CR, EN and VU are selected. Whereas selections between list boxes, are treated as 'and' situations i.e. Mesoamerica and the Arctic Sea marine region. An 'or' option here would have been meaningless as it would have produced a list of all the threatened species occurring in Mesoamerica and all the threatened species occurring in the Arctic Sea (a total of 887 species), rather than the intersection of the two data sets.

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This check box option allows you to view more information regarding organism(s) of interest. The default display option will yield only the following information:

  1. Scientific name of an organism (Genus + species + infra-specific name, if specified in the search criteria)
  2. Common name/s of an organism (in English, French and Spanish)
  3. Red List status of organism (i.e., Endangered, Extinct, etc)
  4. Caveats about any listings (e.g., a petition against a listing)
  5. Current population trends 
An Extended Results display option will yield additional information such as the complete biological nomenclature of an organism (i.e., kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species and infra-specific name). Just simply toggle on the option before you conduct a search if you would like to see such additional information.

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Expert Search interface

This feature is only available in the Expert Search interface. For users who are knowledgeable about taxonomic hierarchies, this is another way of navigating through the database to find the status of organism(s) that belong to a certain hierarchy.

Example:
If you would like to find out the status of organisms that belong to the Endodontidae family, what you have to do is to go down the folder tree starting from Kingdom, select "ANIMALIA" then click on the Calculate Taxonomy button to expand the list, then on Phylum select "MOLLUSCA" and click on the Calculate Taxonomy button, then under Class select on "GASTROPODA" and click on the Calculate Taxonomy button, then under Order select "STYLOMMATOPHORA" and click on the Calculate Taxonomy button. Finally under Family select the "ENDODONTIDAE" and click on the Calculate Taxonomy button. From this point the user can specify any other options as on the Search Page, then click on to conduct a search.

Note: It is important to click on the Calculate Taxonomy button on all the taxonomic levels required for the search. Simply highlighting the family "ENDODONTIDAE" would not result in it being selected. The banner at the top of the screen shows the options selected.

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If, for example, you would like to find the status of the Southern White Rhinoceros, proceed with the following steps:

  1. Choose the Database Search method.
  2. Type in "Southern White Rhinoceros" in the Text Search box.
  3. Click on the "Exact" radio button under the Modifier section. (Click on "contains" if you typed in "white" or "rhino", or click on "starts with" if you typed in "southern")
  4. Click on the "Common name" radio button under the What part of the database would you like to search? section.
  5. Click on the "Subspecies and varieties" option under the What taxa would you like to see? section to ensure both "Species" and "Subspecies and Varieties" are selected.
  6. Click on to activate the search process.

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If, for example, you would like to find a list of Red Listed species in the United Kingdom, proceed with the following steps:

  1. Choose the Database Search method.
  2. Select "United Kingdom" from the Select one or more countries list box.
  3. Click on to activate the search process.

This search will produce a list of species, to include subspecies and varieties and/or stocks and subpopulations, the appropriate boxes under 'What taxa do you want to see?' should be checked.

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If, for example, you would like to find all the threatened terrestrial species in South Africa, proceed with the following steps:

  1. Choose the Database Search method.
  2. Select "South Africa" from the Select one or more countries list box. 
  3. Toggle on the "Terrestrial" check box under the Is the species considered section.
  4. Select "CR – Critically Endangered", "EN – Endangered" and "VU – Vulnerable" from the Red List Categories list box. Remember to hold down the Ctrl-key when doing multiple selections.
  5. Click on to activate the search process.

This search will produce a list of species, to include subspecies and varieties and/or stocks and subpopulations, the appropriate boxes under 'What taxa do you want to see?' should be checked.

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If, for example, you would like to find all the threatened mammal species in Argentina, proceed with the following steps:

  1. Choose the Database Search method.
  2. Type in "mammalia" in the Text Search box.
  3. Click on the "Exact" radio button under the Modifier section.
  4. Click on the "Taxonomy" radio button under the What part of the database would you like to search? section. 
  5. Select "Argentina" from the Select one or more countries list box. 
  6. Select "CR – Critically Endangered", "EN – Endangered" and "VU – Vulnerable" from the Red List Categories list box. Remember to hold down the Ctrl-key when doing multiple selections. (If a list of all mammal species was wanted, then this list box could be left on the default of All).
  7. Click on to activate the search process.

This search will produce a list of species, to include subspecies and varieties and/or stocks and subpopulations, the appropriate boxes under 'What taxa do you want to see?' should be checked.

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If, for example, you would like to find the status of all the species which belong to the Class Cupressaceae, proceed with the following steps:

  1. Choose the Database Search method
  2. Type in "Cupressaceae" in the Text Search box.
  3. Click on the "Exact" radio button under the Modifier section.
  4. Click on the "Taxonomy" radio button under the What part of the database would you like to search? section. 
  5. Click on to activate the search process.

OR

  1. Choose the Expert Database Search method
  2. Select "PLANTAE" under Kingdom and click on the Calculate Taxonomy button.
  3. Follow on by selecting "TRACHEOPHYTA", "CONIFEROPSIDA", "CONIFERALES" and finally "CUPRESSACEAE". In each case remember to click on the Calculate Taxonomy button after highlighting the relevant taxonomic group.
  4. Make sure the word "CUPRESSACEAE" appears in the banner at the top for the selected items and then click on  to activate the search process. 

This search will produce a list of species, to include subspecies and varieties and/or stocks and subpopulations, the appropriate boxes under 'What taxa do you want to see?' should be checked.

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If, for example, you would like to find all the Extinct species which belong to the Class Gastropoda, proceed with the following steps:

  1. Choose the Database Search method
  2. Type in "Gastropoda" in the Text Search box.
  3. Click on the "Exact" radio button under the Modifier section.
  4. Click on the "Taxonomy" radio button under the What part of the database would you like to search? section. 
  5. Select "EX - Extinct" from the Red List Categories list box.
  6. Click on to activate the search process.

OR

  1. Choose the Expert Search method
  2. Select "ANIMALIA" under Kingdom and click on the Calculate Taxonomy button.
  3. Follow on by selecting "MOLLUSCA" and finally "GASTROPODA". In each case remember to click on the Calculate Taxonomy button after highlighting the relevant taxonomic group.
  4. Make sure the word " GASTROPODA " appears in the banner at the top for the selected items.
  5. Select "EX - Extinct" from the Red List Categories list box.
  6. Click on to activate the search process.

This search will produce a list of species, to include subspecies and varieties and/or stocks and subpopulations, the appropriate boxes under 'What taxa do you want to see?' should be checked.

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The search results screen:

If a search is successful, the Search Results are displayed and the number of records retrieved, e.g. "Viewing results 1 to 50 of 263" is shown at the top. Only 50 records are shown at a time and users must click the Next Page, Previous Page, First Page and Last Page buttons at the bottom of the 'Search Results screen to scroll through the whole list. The limitation on the number of records retrieved per page is to ensure that speed is maintained especially for users with very narrow internet band width.

The Search Results are automatically sorted alphabetically by scientific name (genus and species) i.e. this is the default option. However, this order can be modified using the options provided in the pull-down menu for Sort. All sorts are in ascending order.

Please note that the layout and contents of the Search Results page changes slightly if the Extended Results option is selected (i.e. more fields are visible).

The Red List Category and Criteria and Caveat fields on both the Search Results and Detailed Results pages are hyperlinks that take one to the relevant definitions. Note that two different versions of Red List Categories and Criteria are used, and the hyperlinks link to the appropriate version.

At the bottom of each Search Results and Detailed Results page a citation is provided indicating how to cite the information and the date the information was downloaded. Note: In citing such information some publications may require the appropriate internet address to be included in the citation. Additional guidance on the notation to use when citing specific Red List assessments is provided on the Contact Information page.

Detailed results

Every species on the Search Results is a hyperlink, which if clicked, takes one to a Detailed Results page. The information on the Detailed Results page varies considerably from species to species. For those with the most information, there will be sections on Taxonomy (scientific names, authority, common name/s); Assessment Information (Red List Category and Criteria, year assessed, assessor/s, evaluators, justification); Distribution (countries and aquatic areas), Summary Documentation (biome, major habitat/s, major threat/s, population trend); Detailed Documentation (range and population, habitat and ecology, threats, conservation measures); and Data Sources. In some cases, the documentation includes links to other web sites which have further information (e.g., BirdLife International, AmphibiaWeb, etc.)

To get back to the Search Results page click on the back button.

Printing and saving results

To print out the results, use the appropriate print function on your internet browser. Please note that ONLY the page currently displayed will print. So if more than 50 records are retrieved, then each page has to be printed in turn.

Selecting the Save as… function from your browsers File menu, will produce an html formatted file (please note that the extension may have to be changed to *.htm depending upon the browser being used). There are no options under the current version to save the search results or detailed results pages to any other formats such as *.txt, *.csv, etc. This export functionality will be developed some time in the future. For users who would like to link directly to a results page, it is possible to bookmark individual pages. We cannot guarantee the long-term validity of such bookmarks, but will endeavour to keep the web site as stable as possible.

Unsuccessful searches

If a search is not successful, the Search Results screen indicates this and shows what search criteria were used. An example of such a message could be:

"No results were found for the criteria you specified:

    • Text search: Bos
    • Modifier: Exact phrase
    • Search in: Common name

If these are correct, then the species you are searching for may not be in the database."

In the above example, a mistake was made in selecting "Common name", "Taxonomy" should have been selected instead. Using the back button it is easy to go back and rectify this. If all the settings are incorrect, it may be easier to click on Database Search to start from fresh.

For further information on species not in the database see under the search function.

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