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Wisconsin Wildlife Action Plan graphic
Wisconsin's natural communities
about Species of Greatest Conservation Need
conservation actions for SGCNs and natural communities
datasets, documents, figures and maps
Frequently asked questions about the Wisconsin Wildlife Action Plan
Contact information
For more information on the Wisconsin Wildlife Action Plan, contact:
Shari Koslowsky
WWAP coordinator

Species of Greatest Conservation Need and Species With Information NeedsWisconsin Wildlife Action Plan

example megaphoto on topic content page

Prothonotary warbler, photo © A.B. Sheldon.

Quick linksWisconsin's rare animals | SGCN_SINS list [CSV]

Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN)

Species of Greatest Conservation Need have low and/or declining populations and are in need of conservation action. They include all types of invertebrates like insects, crayfish, snails and mussels as well as birds, fish, mammals, reptiles and amphibians that are:

  • already listed as threatened or endangered;
  • at risk because of threats to their life history needs or their habitats;
  • rare due to few, small or declining populations, species abundance and/or distribution; or
  • showing declining trends in their habitat and populations.

Wisconsin native species that are SGCN

Graph showing the number of Species of Greatest Conservation Need in Wisconsin

Species group (Total/SGCN): birds (284/68); fish (148/26); herptiles (55/24); mammals (70/13); aquatic insects (unknown/114); terrestrial insects (unknown/126); crustaceans (22/1); mussels and clams (50/24); snails and misc. (300/41).

Identifying SGCN

Teams comprised of species experts used a standardized decision process to evaluate rarity, threats and trends for each species according to the SGCN selection flowchart [PDF]. The flowchart relies heavily on NatureServe Conservation Satus Assessment Methodology. This methodology uses multiple factors that describe a species' rarity, threats and trends to assign state and global conservation status ranks (SRanks and GRanks). These ranks were considered along with other characteristics applicable to our state such as vulnerability to environmental change, status in Wisconsin relative to the rest of their range and genetic diversity—characteristics that species teams felt were needed to reflect Wisconsin’s ecological and biological conditions.

To learn more about the process and criteria species teams used to identify SGCN, check out Section 2. Approach and Methods [PDF] in the Wisconsin Wildlife Action Plan.

Species with Information Needs (SINS) and how they differ from SGCN

SINS include species that either did not have sufficient information to evaluate them in the SGCN selection flowchart or, if they did, they did not meet the criteria for SGCN. There are three categories of SINS—BasicSINS, RankingSINS and MonitoringSINS— organized around fundamentally different types of information need. Their purpose is to help people organize their research and inventory goals and priorities. The definitions are not perfectly distinct and judgment is used by the taxon teams when assigning species to each group.

Go to the Wisconsin's rare animals page to see which species are Ranking SINS and Monitoring SINS or download the entire list of all three types of SINS for each species group.

Conservation actions for SGCN

Species teams identified the most important issues and threats that may affect SGCN and their habitat over the next ten years. The conservation actions and monitoring page provides background and links to the actions described for SGCN and natural communities. You can also download this information in Sections 3.-3.6 Species of Greatest Conservation Need Summaries of the Wisconsin Wildlife Action Plan.

SGCN-natural community and SGCN-ecological landscape association scores

Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) are associated with habitats (or natural communities) and places on the landscape. Understanding relationships among SGCN, natural communities and ecological landscapes can help us make decisions about issues affecting SGCN and their habitat and conservation actions. The WWAP scores these relationships in two ways:

Venn diagram showing the relationship between Species of Greatest Conservation Need, natural communities and ecological landscapes
  • Species-ecological landscape associations (SGCN-EL score). Species' distribution patterns are compared across Wisconsin's sixteen ecological landscapes, which are landform groups that share common physical, biological, vegetation, geological, soil, water and climatic conditions. They can be used to identify the best areas of the state to manage for different natural communities, key habitats and native plants and animals using an ecosystem management perspective. SGCN-EL scores are assigned by species teams based on data and knowledge of current and historic populations of each species.
  • Species-natural community associations (SGCN-NC score). Species are assessed for their association with each of Wisconsin's 108 Natural Community types considered in the WWAP. Whereas SGCN-EL associations reflect the geographic extent of a species, SGCN-NC associations reflect their ecological requirements. For example, some terrestrial snails highly associated with the Western Coulees and Ridges Ecological Landscape are only found on moist cliffs and algific talus slopes within this area. SGCN-NC association scores are valuable for identifying issues and conservation actions, which often occur at a scale smaller than the ecological landscape and tell us which natural community(ies) are important to restore, protect or manage for a species or group of species.

SGCN-EL and SGCN-NC scores can be assigned as High (=3), Moderate (=2), Low (=1) or None (=0) and may be used individually and in combination with natural community-ecological landscape opportunity scores to make decisions about protection, resource use and land management at different scales.

Last revised: Wednesday January 31 2018