Rare animals
Find rare and non-game animals.
Rare plants
Learn about plants on the Natural Heritage Working List.
Rare lichens
Discover Wisconsin's lichens.
Natural communities
Explore Wisconsin's natural communities.
Other features
Discover unique resources.
Contact information
For information on Wisconsin's natural communities, contact:
Ryan O'Connor
Natural Heritage Inventory Ecologist

Coldwater streams


General natural community overview

Coldwater streams are best described as flowing waters with maximum summer water temperatures that are typically below 22 degrees Celsius (72 degrees Fahrenheit). The watersheds of these streams are usually less than 100 square miles, and the streams exhibit mean annual flow rates of less than 50 cubic feet per second. Coldwater streams can be found statewide, but they are concentrated in southwestern and parts of central and northern Wisconsin. These communities contain relatively few fish species and are dominated by trout and sculpins. The unglaciated Driftless Area in the state's southwestern corner exhibits a classically branched stream pattern and sharper, more eroded terrain. The rest of the state, smoothed by glaciers, has less topographic relief, creating sinuous streams with less average elevation drop.

Rare animals

Species of Greatest Conservation Need

Wisconsin Wildlife Action Plan graphic

The following Species of Greatest Conservation Need are listed according to their level of association with the natural community type, based on the findings in Wisconsin's 2015 Wildlife Action Plan.

Scores: 3 = high association, 2 = moderate association, and 1 = low association. See the key to association scores for complete definitions.

Blanchard's Cricket FrogAcris blanchardi3
Pickerel FrogLithobates palustris3
Four-toed SalamanderHemidactylium scutatum2
Mink FrogLithobates septentrionalis2

A Predaceous Diving BeetleOreodytes scitulus2
A Predaceous Diving BeetleIlybius subaeneus2
A Predaceous Diving BeetleIlybius gagates2
A Predaceous Diving BeetlePlatambus confusus2
A Water Scavenger BeetleHelophorus orchymonti2

A CaddisflyPsilotreta indecisa2
A Fingernet CaddisflyWormaldia shawnee2
A Fingernet CaddisflyWormaldia moesta2
A Lepidostomatid CaddisflyLepidostoma vernale2

Dragonflies and damselfliesScore
Delta-spotted SpiketailCordulegaster diastatops3
Clamp-tipped EmeraldSomatochlora tenebrosa2
Springwater DancerArgia plana2
Forcipate EmeraldSomatochlora forcipata1
Plains EmeraldSomatochlora ensigera1
Sioux (Sand) SnaketailOphiogomphus smithi1

A Non-biting MidgePseudodiamesa pertinax2

Little Brown BatMyotis lucifugus3
Northern Long-eared BatMyotis septentrionalis3
Silver-haired BatLasionycteris noctivagans3
Water ShrewSorex palustris3
Big Brown BatEptesicus fuscus2
Eastern PipistrellePerimyotis subflavus2

A Flat-headed MayflyRhithrogena undulata3
A Spiny Crawler MayflyDrunella cornuta3
A Large Square-gilled MayflyNeoephemera bicolor2
A MayflyAmeletus lineatus2
A Spiny Crawler MayflyEurylophella aestiva2
A Cleft-footed Minnow MayflyMetretopus borealis1
A Small Minnow MayflyPlauditus cestus1

Wood TurtleGlyptemys insculpta3
Blanding's TurtleEmydoidea blandingii2
Eastern MassasaugaSistrurus catenatus1
Plains GartersnakeThamnophis radix1
QueensnakeRegina septemvittata1

A Perlodid StoneflyIsogenoides olivaceus2
A Perlodid StoneflyIsogenoides frontalis2
A Rolled-winged Winter StoneflyZealeuctra narfi2

Please see Section 2. Approach and Methods of the Wildlife Action Plan to learn how this information was developed.

Rare plants

The Natural Heritage Inventory has developed scores indicating the degree to which each of Wisconsin's rare plant species is associated with a particular natural community or ecological landscape. This information is similar to that found in the Wildlife Action Plan for animals. As this is a work in progress, we welcome your suggestions and feedback.

Scores: 3 = "significantly associated," 2 = "moderately associated," and 1 = "minimally associated."
Scientific Name Common Name Score
Callitriche heterophylla Large Water-starwort 2
Nuphar advena Yellow Water Lily 2


The following Ecological Landscapes have the best opportunities to manage for , based on the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin Handbook.

Major (3 on map)
A major opportunity for sustaining the natural community in the Ecological Landscape exists, either because many significant occurrences of the natural community have been recorded in the landscape or major restoration activities are likely to be successful maintaining the community's composition, structure, and ecological function over a longer period of time.

Important (2 on map)
Although the natural community does not occur extensively or commonly in the Ecological Landscape, one to several occurrences do occur and are important in sustaining the community in the state. In some cases, important opportunities may exist because the natural community may be restricted to just one or a few Ecological Landscapes within the state and there may be a lack of opportunities elsewhere.

Present (1 on map)
The natural community occurs in the Ecological Landscape, but better management opportunities appear to exist in other parts of the state.


Wisconsin Wildlife Action Plan graphic

What are conservation actions?

Conservation actions respond to issues or threats, which adversely affect species of greatest conservation need (SGCN) or their habitats. Besides actions such as restoring wetlands or planting resilient tree species in northern communities, research, surveys and monitoring are also among conservation actions described in the WWAP because lack of information can threaten our ability to successfully preserve and care for natural resources.

Threats/issues and conservations actions for natural communities




Speckled alder on the banks of Upper Brule River grade into tamarack-dominated swamp, then extensive stand of N white-cedar. Springs/seepages lace the wetlands bordering the river.

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Note: photos are provided to illustrate various examples of natural community types. A single photograph cannot represent the range of variability inherent in a given community type. Some of these photos explicitly illustrate unusual and distinctive community variants. The community photo galleries are a work in progress that we will expand and improve in the future.

Last revised: Wednesday, June 16, 2021