COSEWIC subcommittees

Species Specialist Subcommittees

Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) consists of 31 voting members. Of these, the Species Specialist Subcommittee (SSC) co-chairs provide expertise on particular taxonomic groups. Each SSC is composed of two co-chairs and normally at least five additional members who are experts in relevant fields, and have broad knowledge and experience and a demonstrated commitment to wildlife conservation. SSC members are drawn from universities, provincial wildlife agencies, museums, Conservation Data Centres, and other sources of expertise on Canadian species. With their help, SSC co-chairs develop candidate lists of species to be considered for assessment, commission status reports for priority species, review reports for scientific accuracy and completeness, and propose to COSEWIC a status for each species. At the meetings of COSEWIC, the co-chairs of each SSC present reports resulting from their SSC's work for consideration by the full COSEWIC membership.

COSEWIC species specialist subcommittees encompass the following taxonomic groups:

  • Amphibians and reptiles
  • Arthropods (e.g., butterflies, crayfish, dragonflies and beetles)
  • Birds
  • Freshwater fishes
  • Marine fishes
  • Marine mammals
  • Molluscs
  • Mosses and lichens
  • Terrestrial mammals
  • Vascular plants

Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge Subcommittee

Of the 31 voting members of COSEWIC, the co-chairs of the Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge Subcommittee (ATK SC) provide expertise on Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge. The subcommittee is in its formative stages, and will be responsible for ensuring that Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge is incorporated into COSEWIC's assessment process.

COSEWIC Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge Subcommittee: members

Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge (ATK):

  • Includes, but is not limited to, the knowledge Aboriginal Peoples have accumulated about wildlife species and their environment.
  • Other words commonly used to describe this knowledge include: Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK), Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (IQ), Indigenous Knowledge (IK) and Naturalized Knowledge Systems.
  • Is a complex process incorporating aspects of culture, spirituality and history. Therefore, peoples with different backgrounds (Indian, Inuit and Métis) may define ATK in different ways.

Incorporating Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge into COSEWIC's assessment of species at risk improves the process, and therefore the quality of designations made by COSEWIC, by bringing information and perspectives on wildlife species that are not available in published scientific literature.

COSEWIC will work closely with Aboriginal Peoples to decide how ATK will be incorporated into the process of assessing species at risk through the Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge Subcommittee (ATK SC).

COSEWIC Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge (ATK) process and protocols guidelines

Answers to some frequently asked questions about the COSEWIC Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge Subcommittee, its role in the assessment process, and ATK itself.

About us

The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) is an independent advisory panel to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada that meets twice a year to assess the status of wildlife species at risk of extinction. Members are wildlife biology experts from academia, government, non-governmental organizations and the private sector responsible for designating wildlife species in danger of disappearing from Canada.


COSEWIC secretariat
Canadian Wildlife Service
Environment and Climate Change Canada
351 St. Joseph Blvd, 16th floor
Gatineau QC K1A 0H3

Telephone: 819-938-4125
Fax: 819-938-3984
Email: ec.cosepac-cosewic.ec@canada.ca

Latest News

COSEWIC press release: May 2019

ST. JOHN'S, May 6, 2019 /CNW/ - Canada's marine protected areas are more important than ever. The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) has just assessed three whales, including two of the world's largest, as under threat in Canadian waters.


Assessment results (May 2019 COSEWIC wildlife species assessment meeting)

Twice per year, Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) meets to discuss and evaluate the status of Canadian wildlife species. Here you will find the List of Wildlife Species scheduled for the next COSEWIC Wildlife Species Assessment Meeting, the results of wildlife species assessment meeting, and the updated COSEWIC Canadian Wildlife Species at Risk Publication.