The diminutive fairy slipper orchid, Calypso bulbosa.
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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]

Wisconsin's endangered and threatened species 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 June 2014. 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.
  • 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 globally because of extreme rarity (five or fewer occurrences or very few remaining individuals or acres) or because of some factor(s) making it especially vulnerable to extinction.
  • G2 = Imperiled globally because of rarity (6 to 20 occurrences or few remaining individuals or acres) or because of some factor(s) making it very vulnerable to extinction throughout its range.
  • G3 = Either very rare and local throughout its range or found locally (even abundantly at some of its locations) in a restricted range (e.g., a single state or physiographic region) or because of other factors making it vulnerable to extinction throughout its range; in terms of occurrences, in the range of 21 to 100.
  • G4 = Apparently globally secure, though it may be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery.
  • G5 = Demonstrably secure globally, though it may be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery.
  • GH = Of historical occurrence throughout its range, i.e., formerly part of the established biota, with the expectation that it may be rediscovered.
  • GNR = Not ranked. Replaced G? rank and some GU ranks.
  • GU = Possibly in peril range-wide, but their status is uncertain. More information is needed.
  • GX = Believed to be extinct throughout its range (e.g. Passenger Pigeon) with virtually no likelihood that it will be rediscovered.

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 because of extreme rarity (five or fewer occurrences or very few remaining individuals or acres) or because of some factor(s) making it especially vulnerable to extirpation from the state.
  • S2 = Imperiled in Wisconsin because of rarity (6 to 20 occurrences or few remaining individuals or acres) or because of some factor(s) making it very vulnerable to extirpation from the state.
  • S3 = Rare or uncommon in Wisconsin (21 to 100 occurrences).
  • S4 = Apparently secure in Wisconsin, with many occurrences.
  • S5 = Demonstrably secure in Wisconsin and essentially ineradicable under present conditions.
  • SH = Of historical occurrence in Wisconsin, perhaps having not been verified in the past 20 years, and suspected to be still extant. Naturally, an element would become SH without such a 20-year delay if the only known occurrence were destroyed or if it had been extensively and unsuccessfully looked for.
  • SNA = Accidental, non-native, reported, but unconfirmed, or falsely reported.
  • SNR = Not ranked.
  • SU = Possibly in peril in the state, but their status is uncertain. More information is needed.
  • SX = Apparently extirpated from the state.

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).

Last revised: Friday August 29 2014