This evaluation tracks the number and status of nationally endemic species in Canada. These are species that have only been documented from Canada and occur nowhere else in the world.
of endemic species in Canada are currently listed under the Species at Risk Act.
Nationally endemic species occur across Canada, with the highest numbers in British Columbia, Quebec, and the Yukon.
concentrations of endemic species across Canada. Many of these will trigger the identification of Key Biodiversity Areas.
Why do endemic species matter?
Over 90% of recent human-caused extinctions are species known from only one nation.
Nationally endemic species represent the greatest global conservation responsibility for any country.
There are 308 species, subspecies and varieties that have only been documented from Canada.
Nationally endemic species occur across Canada, with the highest numbers in British Columbia, Quebec, and Yukon.
There are 27 concentrations of endemic species across Canada, many of which are associated with islands, coasts or areas that were unglaciated. These include the Hudson Bay Coast, the Beringia region of Yukon, and Southwest Newfoundland.
Currently only about 10% of Canada’s endemic species are not considered to be at risk of extinction.
Many endemic species in Canada are globally threatened or occur in small ranges and will trigger the identification of Key Biodiversity Areas.
Protecting nationally endemic species in Canada is critical to maintain species diversity nationally and globally and integral to national and international commitments to protect nature through the Convention on Biological Diversity.
Calls to action
Federal, provincial, territorial & Indigenous governments:
- Establish and manage protected and conserved areas to protect the habitat of endemic species.
- Accelerate the identification of Key Biodiversity Areas across Canada that include the habitat of endemic species.
- Prioritize endemic species for assessments and listing under the Species at Risk Act and provincial/ territorial species at risk legislation. Include these species in federal environmental assessments so they get extra attention early in the planning process.
- Prepare and implement recovery and action plans for all endemic species.
- Support monitoring and research on endemic species.
- Establish a target in Canada’s next National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan to protect all endemic species.
Local governments & communities:
- Inventory and map endemic species based on the best available information and prioritise these important areas for land use planning and development decisions.
- Leverage the uniqueness and importance of endemic species to foster community pride and sense of place, and build support for conservation actions
Civil societies, community organizations, universities, colleges & museums:
- Target endemic species for land protection and stewardship actions.
- Support and advocate for the designation of Key Biodiversity Areas that include endemic species.
- Research and inventory Canada’s endemic species and endemic species hotspots.
- Build awareness about the importance of conserving endemic species in Canada and the local actions we can take to protect Earth’s biodiversity.
Businesses & corporations:
- Identify endemic species that can be protected and stewarded by your business.
- Avoid projects that could impact these species and their habitat.
- Fund communities and organizations that are protecting endemic species.
- Learn and talk about endemic species that occur near your home.
- Support Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) or other conservation projects near you that help to highlight and conserve edge of extinction species. Volunteer as a KBA caretaker or create a caretaker group.
This list builds on previous efforts to identify nationally endemic species starting with centres of Canadian plant endemism were identified in the 1970s (Kershaw, 1976; Kershaw & Morton, 1976; Mosquin & Suchal, 1977). NatureServe Canada has reported on globally imperiled species in Canada that included some endemics (Cannings et al., 2005; Rainer et al., 2017). The most recent general status report on Canadian wildlife identified a subset of endemic species but not subspecies and varieties (CESCC, 2016).
Confidence and limitations
High confidence – this information is based on information from NatureServe and input from experts across Canada.
Some of the species have uncertainty regarding the full extent of their global range or are known only from a type locality. Potential updates are being tracked and will be shared in a future iteration of the list. The current list of ‘potential’ endemics will also be reviewed and confidence codes assigned.
The entire global range of Maritime Ringlet occurs along the coast of the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Quebec and New Brunswick.
Photo: Colin Jones (iNaturalist).
Yukon Goldenweed is only found in southern Yukon on dry slopes.
Photo: Bruce Bennett
Applications and next steps
This evaluation highlights species that are at the greatest risk of extinction. This information can be used to identify high priority species for conservation assessments and for recovery planning and actions. Conserving edge of extinction species will support Target 4 of the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (currently in draft) to reduce and halt global extinctions.
This evaluation will be updated annually. We will also release a new list of the “top ten” edge of extinction species annually on Endangered Species Day (third Friday in May) to build awareness about wildlife conservation.
Figure 1: Total number of endemic species by province and territory.
Source: Enns et al., 2020
Figure 2: Hotspots of nationally endemic species.
Source: Enns et al., 2020
S1: Edge of Extinction
S2: Globally Threatened Species
How to Cite
Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Canada. 2022. Endemic Species, in SHAPE of Nature. https://shapeofnature.ca/
For More Information
Contact us for more information or for a copy of the data in excel: https://shapeofnature.ca/take-action/ or firstname.lastname@example.org
Data sources & methods
This evaluation is based on report prepared by the Nature Conservancy of Canada and NatureServe Canada (Enns et al., 2020). More information can be found at in this report.
This evaluation is updated every two years.
S1 Edge of Extinction
S2 Globally Threatened Species
S3 Species at Risk
S4 Endemic Species
S5 Knowledge of Species
S6 State of Canada's Trees
S7 State of Canada's Whales
H1 Globally Threatened Ecosystems
A1 Protected & Conserved Areas
A2 Recovery Plans for Species at Risk
P1 Biodiversity Laws, Policies & Plans
P2 Provincial & Territorial Species at Risk Laws
P3 Delays in Protecting Species at Risk