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Categories are used to designate the status of the organisms included in the Florida list of rare and endangered species.

The category assigned to a species is based on the status of its population in Florida. Thus, a plant or animal whose range barely reaches the state ("peripheral species") may be classified as endangered, threatened, or rare as a member of the Florida biota, although it may be generally common elsewhere in its range.

In the following definitions, "species" is used in a general sense to include (1) full taxonomic species, (2) subspecies (animals) or varieties (plants), and (3) particular populations of a species or subspecies that do not have formal taxonomic status. This use of term agrees with that of the Endangered Species Act of 1973.

Endangered. Species in danger of extinction or extirpation if the deleterious factors affecting their populations continue to operate. These are forms whose numbers have already declined to such a critically low level or whose habitats have been so seriously reduced or degraded that without active assistance their survival in Florida is questionable.

Threatened. Species that are likely to become endangered in the state within the foreseeable future if current trends continue. This category includes: (1) species in which most or all populations are decreasing because of overexploitation, habitat loss, or other factors; (2) species whose populations have already been heavily depleted by deleterious conditions and, while not actually endangered, are nevertheless in a critical state; and (3) species that may still be relatively abundant but are being subjected to serious adverse pressures throughout their range.

Rare. Species that, although not presently endangered or threatened as defined above, are potentially at risk because they are found only within a restricted geographic area or habitat in the state or are sparsely distributed over a more extensive range.

Species of Special Concern. Species that do not clearly fit into one of the preceding categories yet warrant special attention. Included in this category are: (1) species that, although they are perhaps presently relatively abundant and widespread in the state, are especially vulnerable to certain types of exploitation or environmental changes and have experienced long-term population declines; and (2) species whose status in Florida has a potential impact on endangered or threatened populations of the same or other species outside the state.