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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
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Contact information
For information on Wisconsin's natural communities, contact:
Ryan O'Connor
Natural Heritage Inventory Ecologist

Transportation-Utility Corridor


General natural community overview

Transportation and utility corridors are linear tracts of land that extend continuously across all types of terrestrial and aquatic land cover, natural or constructed, rural, suburban, or urban. While transportation and utility corridors are not independently sustainable biological communities, we feel it is necessary to distinguish them because of their ubiquity throughout Wisconsin and the important influence they have on the flora and fauna of our state, their habitats, and the ecological processes they depend upon. Corridors can vary greatly in width, length and depth of disturbance, as well as the portion occupied by structures like transmission poles, the area of impermeable features like road surfaces, and the intensity of vegetation management. Although there is considerable variation in how they are constructed, managed, and maintained, transportation and utility corridors are all subject to practices that control vegetation through mechanical or chemical means, altered soil conditions, altered surface and subsurface hydrology, and controlled and repeated access and disturbance. Depending upon their location and applied management practices, these corridors offer opportunities for dispersal of native or invasive species and for sustaining open habitat types like grasslands and savannahs, but also contriubte to the loss and fragmentation of forested, shrub, and wetland communities. They may create open corridor or edge habitat that improves resource diversity in otherwise continuous habitat no longer subject to natural processes that control succession and gap formation. Or, break up continuous habitat into smaller patches and diminish habitat quality through increased predation and exposure.

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 Transportation-Utility Corridor 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 blanchardi1

Ants, wasps, and beesScore
American Bumble BeeBombus pensylvanicus1
Confusing Bumble BeeBombus perplexus1
Indiscriminate Cuckoo Bumble BeeBombus insularis1
Rusty-patched Bumble BeeBombus affinis1
Sanderson's Bumble BeeBombus sandersoni1
Silphium Terminal Gall WaspAntistrophus silphii1
Yellow Bumble BeeBombus fervidus1
Yellowbanded Bumble BeeBombus terricola1

Aquatic and terrestrial snailsScore
Smooth CoilHelicodiscus singleyanus1
Transparent Vitrine SnailVitrina angelicae1
Wing SnaggletoothGastrocopta procera1

American WoodcockScolopax minor2
Common NighthawkChordeiles minor2
Eastern Whip-poor-willAntrostomus vociferus2
Bell's VireoVireo bellii1
Eastern MeadowlarkSturnella magna1
Lark SparrowChondestes grammacus1
Loggerhead ShrikeLanius ludovicianus1
Long-eared OwlAsio otus1
Northern BobwhiteColinus virginianus1
Red-headed WoodpeckerMelanerpes erythrocephalus1
Vesper SparrowPooecetes gramineus1
Western MeadowlarkSturnella neglecta1
Yellow-breasted ChatIcteria virens1

Butterflies and mothsScore
Gray CopperLycaena dione2
Karner BlueLycaeides melissa samuelis2
Bina Flower MothSchinia bina1
Cobweb SkipperHesperia metea1
Columbine Dusky WingErynnis lucilius1
Cross Line SkipperPolites origenes1
Dusted SkipperAtrytonopsis hianna1
Frosted ElfinCallophrys irus1
Leadplant Flower MothSchinia lucens1
Liatris Borer MothPapaipema beeriana1
Persius Dusky WingErynnis persius1
Phlox MothSchinia indiana1
Regal FritillarySpeyeria idalia1
Silphium Borer MothPapaipema silphii1
Swamp MetalmarkCalephelis muticum1

Grasshoppers and alliesScore
Crackling Forest GrasshopperTrimerotropis verruculata1

Leafhoppers and true bugsScore
A LeafhopperParaphlepsius nebulosus1

Franklin's Ground SquirrelPoliocitellus franklinii3
Big Brown BatEptesicus fuscus2
Little Brown BatMyotis lucifugus2
Silver-haired BatLasionycteris noctivagans2
Tricolored BatPerimyotis subflavus2
Northern Long-eared BatMyotis septentrionalis1
Prairie Deer MousePeromyscus maniculatus bairdii1
Prairie VoleMicrotus ochrogaster1

Blanding's TurtleEmydoidea blandingii3
Prairie SkinkPlestiodon septentrionalis3
Wood TurtleGlyptemys insculpta3
Butler's GartersnakeThamnophis butleri2
Eastern MassasaugaSistrurus catenatus2
GophersnakePituophis catenifer2
Plains GartersnakeThamnophis radix2
Slender Glass LizardOphisaurus attenuatus2
Gray RatsnakePantherophis spiloides1
North American RacerColuber constrictor1
Ornate Box TurtleTerrapene ornata1
Six-lined RacerunnerAspidoscelis sexlineata1

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
Asclepias ovalifolia Dwarf Milkweed 1
Astragalus neglectus Cooper's Milkvetch 1
Bartonia paniculata Twining Screwstem 1
Carex cumulata Clustered Sedge 1
Carex nigra Smooth Black Sedge 1
Carex straminea Straw Sedge 1
Eleocharis nitida Neat Spike-rush 2
Eurybia furcata Forked Aster 1
Iris lacustris Dwarf Lake Iris 1
Juncus marginatus Grassleaf Rush 1
Juncus vaseyi Vasey's Rush 2
Parnassia palustris Marsh Grass-of-Parnassus 1
Petasites sagittatus Sweet Colt's-foot 2
Ranunculus cymbalaria Seaside Crowfoot 2
Rhexia virginica Virginia Meadow-beauty 1
Sparganium glomeratum Clustered Bur-reed 2


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


Transportation-Utility Corridor Photos

Transportation-Utility Corridor Photo

Powerline corridor in Grant County maintaining an open canopy within an oak barrens.

Photo by Ryan O'Connor.

Transportation-Utility Corridor Photo

Photo by Stacy Rowe.

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: Tuesday, August 30, 2022