Conservation Status and Threat Assessments for North American Crop Wild Relatives

North American Crop Wild Relatives: Conservation and Use

Conservation status and threat assessments evaluate species’ relative risks of extinction globally, regionally, nationally, or locally and estimate the degree to which populations of species are already safeguarded in existing conservation systems, with the aim of exposing the critical gaps in current conservation. Results of the assessments can therefore aid in directing limited conservation resources to the species and populations that are most at-risk. This chapter introduces the roles of conservation status and threat assessments in informing conservation priorities for crop wild relatives in North America and provides an overview of the current results for US taxa. Methods to assess the conservation status and to perform threat assessments for North American crop wild relatives are well developed via NatureServe and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, and the essential infrastructure to perform these analyses is present, at least in Canada and the US. Current conservation assessments for North American wild relatives need updating but already reveal a landscape of multiple complex threats and major gaps in the ex situ and in situ conservation of prioritized species. Further resources and concerted efforts are needed to update conservation assessments and then to use the results to inform efforts to fill the critical gaps in conservation.

NatureServe Author(s)


  • Frances, A., Smith, A.B., and Khoury, C.