Habitats Directive species lists: urgent need of revision



    1. Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Washington DC, USA
    2. Azorean Biodiversity Group – CITA-A, Universidade dos Açores, Angra do Heroísmo, Portugal
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Pedro Cardoso, Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, PO Box 37012, MRC 105, Room E-510, Washington, DC 20013-7012, USA. E-mail: pcardoso@ennor.org


Abstract.  1. The European Habitats Directive is the main legislative work regarding Europe’s nature conservation policy. It lists the protected habitats and species in the European Union. The species lists include 122 arthropods.

2. The current lists of arthropods (Annexes II and IV) present, possibly among other, five obvious biases: taxonomic, geographic, range, size and aesthetic biases. Species of selected taxa (Lepidoptera, Coleoptera, Odonata and Orthoptera), from Northern or Central Europe, relatively widespread, of a large body size and attractive are favoured over species of other taxa, from southern and Mediterranean Europe, endemic or relatively small or inconspicuous. Such biases are obstacles to the effective protection of the European fauna.

3. Two main strategies should be followed to avoid these problems and therefore increase the effectiveness of conservation policies: (i) the adoption of objective and transparent criteria for the listing of protected species, and (ii) implement regular updates and amendments to the lists based on such criteria.