German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)

Mainmenu



Animals, plants and fungi

Number of endemics and taxa (species and subspecies) for which Germany has national responsibility, by animal group

Germany has special responsibility for endemic animal species

Germany has special international responsibility for the conservation of species with significant populations in Germany. Most of all, this relates to Germany’s endemics. These are species that are only found in a limited region. Among animal species, Germany has so far been determined to have special responsibility for 161 taxa (species and subspecies), of which seven are endemics and a further seven are questionable endemics.


Under Article 1 of the Federal Nature Conservation Act (BNatSchG), Germany is fundamentally responsible for the conservation of all wild species. Over and above this, Germany has special international responsibility for the conservation of species with significant populations in Germany. This relates most of all to Germany’s endemics – species that are found exclusively in Germany and constitute an important part of our natural heritage – and also species of which a large proportion of the global population is found in Germany, together with globally endangered species.

Analyses on endemics and national responsibility have developed to become an important basis of priority setting for species and nature conservation. The approach proposed by Gruttke et al. (2004) has since been incorporated into the Federal Government’s National Strategy on Biological Diversity (section B 1.1.2 and the Federal Biological Diversity Programme under the national responsibility species funding priority) and into nature conservation law (Article 54 (1) and (2) of the Federal Nature Conservation Act).

With regard to animals, 1,524 taxa (species and subspecies) in 14 species groups have so far been analysed with regard to national responsibility and numbers of endemics. Germany has been determined to have special responsibility for 161 taxa. Species with significant populations in Germany include the yellow-bellied toad (Bombina variegata) and Kraus’s bush cricket (Isophya kraussii). The number of endemic taxa is seven. These are freshwater fish in the waters of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and the Bavarian Alpine foothills. The endemic status of a further seven taxa remains questionable.

Germany has comparatively few endemics

Germany has relatively few endemics compared with southern European and tropical countries. One reason is the geographic makeup and location of Germany in Central Europe with weak distribution barriers and few specific environmental conditions enabling isolated evolution with relatively small numbers of species. Another is the fact that the last Ice Age, when many species died out in Central Europe, was only 10,000 to 15,000 years ago – a relatively short time for the evolution of new species.

 Print