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The diminutive fairy slipper orchid, Calypso bulbosa.
Access NHI data
for research and planning purposes.
Explore
Wisconsin's rare species and natural communities.
Report
a plant or non-game animal. [exit DNR]
Review
the natural heritage working list.
Contact information
For more information on the working list, contact:
Julie Bleser
NHI data manager
608-266-7308

Wisconsin natural heritage working list

The Wisconsin natural heritage working list contains species known or suspected to be rare in the state along with natural communities native to Wisconsin. It includes species legally designated as "endangered" or "threatened" as well as species in the advisory "special concern" category. Most of the species and natural communities on the list are actively tracked and we encourage data submissions on these species. This list is meant to be dynamic - it is updated as often as new information regarding the biological status of species becomes available. The Natural Heritage Inventory (NHI) program welcomes your input on any aspect of the list. To learn more about the species and communities on the working list, please see the Endangered Resources biodiversity pages.

Printable version of the current working list [PDF]

Key to the working list

The Wisconsin NHI program is part of an international network of programs that focus on rare plants and animals, natural communities and other rare elements of nature. The defining and unifying characteristic of this network is the use of a standard methodology for collecting, processing and managing data on the occurrences of natural biological diversity. A key feature of the NHI methodology is a system for assessing rarity of the various elements at the global (G) and state (S) level. These ranks have proven useful in directing action toward the elements most in need of conservation. The methodology was developed by The Nature Conservancy [exit DNR] and is currently coordinated by NatureServe [exit DNR], an international non-profit organization.

The Wisconsin NHI working list records which elements are tracked in the state. The working list is revised as species' populations change and as our knowledge about their status and distribution in Wisconsin increases. The list presented here was revised July 2016. Definitions of ranks are provided below, along with definitions for other abbreviations used in the working list.

  • ELCODE: Unique 10-digit code for each element - plant, animal or natural community.
  • Scientific Name: Scientific name used by the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory program.
  • s: Indicates that the element is a Species of Greatest Conservation Need based on Wisconsin’s Wildlife Action Plan Only applies to printed version.
  • Common Name: Standard, contrived or agreed upon common names.
  • Global Rank: Global element rank.
  • State Rank: State element rank.
  • US Status: Federal protection status designated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Endangered Species Program indicating the biological status of a species in Wisconsin. LE = listed endangered; LT = listed threatened; PE = proposed for listing as endangered; NEP = nonessential experimental population(s) in part of its range; C = candidate for future listing; CH = critical habitat; *SOC = species of concern; HPR = high potential range.

*Federal species of concern are those species that may be in need of concentrated conservation actions, which vary depending on the health of the populations and degree and types of threats. They receive no legal protection and are not necessarily species that will eventually be proposed for listing as threatened or endangered.

  • WI Status: Protection category designated by the DNR. END = endangered; THR = threatened; *SC = special concern.

*Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and federal regulations regarding special concern species range from full protection to no protection. The current categories and their respective level of protection are SC/P = fully protected; SC/N = no laws regulating use, possession, or harvesting; SC/H = take regulated by establishment of open closed seasons; SC/FL = federally protected as endangered or threatened, but not so designated by DNR; SC/M = fully protected by federal and state laws under the Migratory Bird Act.

Special concern species are those species about which some problem of abundance or distribution is suspected but not yet proved. The main purpose of this category is to focus attention on certain species before they become threatened or endangered.

Global element ranks

  • G1 = Critically Imperiled. At very high risk of extinction or elimination due to very restricted range, very few populations or occurrences, very steep declines, very severe threats, or other factors.
  • G2 = Imperiled. At high risk of extinction or elimination due to restricted range, few populations or occurrences, steep declines, severe threats, or other factors.
  • G3 = Vulnerable. At moderate risk of extinction or elimination due to a fairly restricted range, relatively few populations or occurrences, recent and widespread declines, threats, or other factors.
  • G4 = Apparently secure. At fairly low risk of extinction or elimination due to an extensive range and/or many populations or occurrences, but with possible cause for some concern as a result of local recent declines, threats, or other factors.
  • G5 = Secure. At very low risk or extinction or elimination due to a very extensive range, abundant populations or occurrences, and little to no concern from declines or threats.
  • G#G# = A numeric range rank (e.g., G2G3, G1G3) is used to indicate uncertainty about the exact status of a taxon or ecosystem type. Ranges cannot skip more than two ranks (e.g., GU should be used rather than G1G4).
  • GNA = A conservation status rank is not applicable because the species or ecosystem is not a suitable target for conservation activities.
  • GNR = Global rank not yet assessed.
  • GU = Unrankable due to lack of information or due to substantially conflicting information about status or trends. Note: whenever possible (when the range of uncertainty is three consecutive ranks or less), a range rank (e.g., G2G3) should be used to delineate the limits (range) of uncertainty.
  • GH = Possibly Extinct (species) / Eliminated (ecosystems) – Known from only historical occurrences but still some hope of rediscovery. Examples of evidence include (1) that a species has not been documented in approximately 20–40 years despite some searching and/or some evidence of significant habitat loss or degradation; (2) that a species or ecosystem has been searched for unsuccessfully, but not thoroughly enough to presume that it is extinct or eliminated throughout its range.
  • GX = Presumed Extinct (species) – Not located despite intensive searches and virtually no likelihood of rediscovery. Presumed Eliminated (natural community) – Eliminated throughout its range, due to loss of key dominant and characteristic taxa and/or elimination of the sites and ecological processes on which the type depends.

Species with a questionable taxonomic assignment are given a "Q" after the global rank.

Subspecies and varieties are given subranks composed of the letter "T" plus a number or letter. The definition of the second character of the subrank parallels that of the full global rank. (Examples: a rare subspecies of a rare species is ranked G1T1; a rare subspecies of a common species is ranked G5T1.)


State element ranks

  • S1 = Critically imperiled in Wisconsin due to a very restricted range, very few populations or occurrences, very steep declines, severe threats, or other factors.
  • S2 = Imperiled in Wisconsin due to a restricted range, few populations or occurrences, steep declines, severe threats, or other factors.
  • S3 = Vulnerable in Wisconsin due to a fairly restricted range, relatively few populations or occurrences, recent and widespread declines, threats, or other factors.
  • S4 = Apparently secure in Wisconsin due to an extensive range and/or many populations or occurrences, but with possible cause for some concern as a result of local recent declines, threats, or other factors.
  • S5 = Secure in Wisconsin due to a very extensive range, abundant populations or occurrences, with little to no concern from declines or threats.
  • S#S# = A range rank (S2S3, S1S3) is used to indicate any range of uncertainty regarding the status of the element in Wisconsin.
  • SNA = A state rank is not applicable because the element is not a suitable target for conservation activities, typically because it is non-native, accidental, irregular, a long-distance migrant/transitory, or the element’s presence in Wisconsin is unconfirmed.
  • SNR = Not ranked. State conservation status not yet assessed.
  • SU = Unrankable due to lack of information or to substantially conflicting information about status or trends.
  • SH = Known only from historical records. The element may no longer be present in Wisconsin, but there is not enough evidence to state this with certainty. The SH rank is used when an element's presence has not been documented in decades despite some searching and evidence of significant habitat loss or degradation, or when an element has been searched for unsuccessfully, but not thoroughly enough to presume that it is no longer present in Wisconsin.
  • SX = Presumed to be extirpated from Wisconsin. Not located despite intensive searches of historical sites and other appropriate habitat, and virtually no likelihood that it will be rediscovered.

State ranking of long-distance migrant animals - Ranking long distance aerial migrant animals presents special problems relating to the fact that their non-breeding status (rank) may be quite different from their breeding status, if any, in Wisconsin. In other words, the conservation needs of these taxa may vary between seasons. In order to present a less ambiguous picture of a migrant's status, it is necessary to specify whether the rank refers to the breeding (B) or non-breeding (N) status of the taxon in question. (e.g. S2B,S5N).

Wildlife Action Plan

  • Species of Greatest Conservation Need = Species with low and/or declining populations and are in need of conservation action. They are: already listed as threatened or endangered; at risk because of threats to their life history needs or their habits; rare due to few, small or declining populations, species abundance and/or distribution; or showing declining trends in their habitat and population.
  • Monitoring SIN (m-SIN) = Species that have numerical conservation status ranks and sufficient information to assess them according to the SGCN selection flowchart, but did not meet the SGCN criteria. This includes species that were "close" to meeting the SGCN criteria. Often these were species that the taxa teams found difficult to reach a consensus on. In contrast to other species that did not meet SGCN criteria, these species are in need of continued monitoring and should be reevaluated during interim SGCN list updates. They may be described in a number of ways such as possibly declining and with some uncertainty whether they are SGCN; recently or historically common in some cases due to large historic range or broad habitat preference, but showing declining trend data (sometimes difficult to quantify or based on expert knowledge); exhibiting population losses or range contraction. Species vulnerable to environmental changes due to disease, large- or broad-scale trends in land or resources use, climate change, etc. may be placed in this category. MonitoringSINS are typically ranked S3G5, S3S4G5 or S3?, but may also be ranked S4G4, S4G5 or S4? if data or expert and professional knowledge determine the immediacy and magnitude of declining trends warrant this.
  • Ranking SIN (r-SIN) = Species for which there is basic information, but not enough to assign a numerical rank. With a reasonable amount of targeted effort we would get sufficient information about rarity, trends and threats to allow us to assign a numerical rank and move them on or off the SGCN list. Like BasicSINS, species in this category are benefited by surveys or inventories, but the questions are usually more specific and may include measures to understand how a species is affected by environmental factors. Most of the species in this category have a Natural Heritage conservation status rank of SU (unrankable due to lack of information or to substantially conflicting information about status or trends) or SNA, but may also include species with status ranks SNR and SH. Different circumstances can lead to a rank of SU, SNR, SNA or SH such that not all species with these ranks fit this definition and some may be BasicSINS or neither.
  • Basic SIN = Species for which there is little or no information or there is taxonomic uncertainty. This category includes species with taxonomic questions or that need surveys for basic information on presence/absence or breeding/nonbreeding status in the state. The most important course of action for these species or groups of species is research and inventory to gather this basic information. Most species in this category have a Natural Heritage conservation status rank of SNR (not ranked, state conservation status not yet assessed), but may also be ranked SNA (not applicable because the element is not a suitable target for conservation activities, typically because it is non-native, accidental, irregular, a long-distance migrant/transitory or the element’s presence in Wisconsin is unconfirmed), SH (known only from historical records) or they may not have a status rank at all. Most BasicSINS are invertebrate insects.

    Because different circumstances may lead to a species being ranked as SU, SNR, SNA or SH, not all species with these ranks will be identified as BasicSINS. For example, the SNA rank can be assigned when there is adequate information to tell us why a species is not a suitable target for conservation in our state (e.g., migratory bird species, one or two occurrences of a reptile that is not defined as native to Wisconsin) or it can be assigned when there is inadequate information to determine whether a species' range is expanding into our state. Species with SU, SNR, SNA or SH ranks may also be RankingSINS (see below) or neither.
Last revised: Thursday November 10 2016