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

Coolwater streams


General natural community overview

Coolwater streams are flowing waters with maximum summer water temperatures typically between 22 and 25 degrees Celsius (72 - 77 degrees Fahrenheit) . The watershed areas of these streams are usually less than 200 square miles with mean annual flow rates of less than 100 cubic feet per second. Coolwater streams occur sporadically in southern Wisconsin but are very common in the north. These streams contain a moderately diverse fish fauna with a mix of coldwater and warmwater species and a few coolwater specialists such as redside dace.

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
Mink FrogLithobates septentrionalis3
Pickerel FrogLithobates palustris3
Four-toed SalamanderHemidactylium scutatum2

A Hydroporus Diving BeetleHeterosternuta wickhami2
A Hydroporus Diving BeetleHeterosternuta pulchra2
A Predaceous Diving BeetleLioporeus triangularis2
A Predaceous Diving BeetleOreodytes scitulus2
A Predaceous Diving BeetleIlybius confusus2
A Water Scavenger BeetleHelophorus orchymonti2
A Water Scavenger BeetleCymbiodyta toddi2

A Fingernet CaddisflyWormaldia shawnee2
A Fingernet CaddisflyWormaldia moesta2

Dragonflies and damselfliesScore
Clamp-tipped EmeraldSomatochlora tenebrosa3
Plains EmeraldSomatochlora ensigera3
Sioux (Sand) SnaketailOphiogomphus smithi3
Delta-spotted SpiketailCordulegaster diastatops2
Smoky RubyspotHetaerina titia2
Springwater DancerArgia plana2
Double-striped BluetEnallagma basidens1
Extra-striped SnaketailOphiogomphus anomalus1
Sphagnum SpriteNehalennia gracilis1

Redfin ShinerLythrurus umbratilis1

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

A Cleft-footed Minnow MayflyMetretopus borealis3
A Flat-headed MayflyMaccaffertium pulchellum2
A Flat-headed MayflyRhithrogena undulata2
A Large Square-gilled MayflyNeoephemera bicolor2
A MayflyAmeletus lineatus2
A Small Minnow MayflyPlauditus cestus2
A Spiny Crawler MayflyDrunella cornuta2
A Spiny Crawler MayflyEurylophella aestiva2
American Sand Burrowing MayflyDolania americana2
A Brush-legged MayflyHomoeoneuria ammophila1

Mussels and clamsScore
ElktoeAlasmidonta marginata2
EllipseVenustaconcha ellipsiformis2
Rainbow ShellVillosa iris2
Slippershell MusselAlasmidonta viridis2
SnuffboxEpioblasma triquetra1

Wood TurtleGlyptemys insculpta3
Blanding's TurtleEmydoidea blandingii2
Plains GartersnakeThamnophis radix2
QueensnakeRegina septemvittata2
Eastern MassasaugaSistrurus catenatus1

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 hermaphroditica Autumnal Water-starwort 2
Callitriche heterophylla Large Water-starwort 2
Caltha natans Floating Marsh Marigold 2
Nuphar advena Yellow Water Lily 3
Nuphar microphylla Small Yellow Pond Lily 1
Potamogeton hillii Hill's Pondweed 3
Potamogeton pulcher Spotted Pondweed 1
Potamogeton vaseyi Vasey's Pondweed 1
Ranunculus gmelinii Small Yellow Water Crowfoot 1
Scirpus pallidus Pale Bulrush 2
Stuckenia filiformis ssp. occidentalis Slender Pondweed 3


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




The lower reaches of Perry Creek, a spring-fed coldwater tributary to the Black River, flows over sandstone bedrock S of Black River Falls.

Photo by W.A. Smith.


Wolf River, Langlade County.

Photo by W.A. Smith.

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