NatureServe in Action


Learn how the NatureServe Network is protecting our precious animals, plants, and ecosystems.

NatureServe Network Programs Discover Bat Outside of Range, New to Minnesota and Wisconsin

An evening bat (Nycticeius humeralis) | NatureServe Status: Secure (G5) | Caught in Arden Hills, MN in early July | Image Courtesy of MNDNRDuring two recent projects monitoring for forest bats, research teams with Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources made exciting independent discoveries. The Minnesota team’s lead wildlife biologist and NatureServe Network member, Rich Baker, told NatureServe about their find in a recent Q&A. 

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The Beautiful and Threatened Blackbanded Sunfish Gets a Plan for Conservation in Maryland and Delaware

Blackbanded sunfish (Enneacanthus chaetodon) | Photo by  Brian GratwickeNatureServe Network Programs in Maryland and Delaware teamed up to ensure the persistence of one of Delmarva’s most beautiful fish species, the blackbanded sunfish. By initiating an essential interstate conservation plan, Maryland and Delaware now have concrete guidance on how to take action.

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A Century Lost: Rediscovering a Rare Plant, 112 Years Later

Collaboration between NatureServe and the Maryland Natural Heritage Program has resulted in the rediscovery of eight species, including this rock goldenrod (Solidago rupestris) | Photo by Wes KnappWhen NatureServe Network scientists rediscover natural treasures like the yellow rock goldenrod, that information gives decision makers a clearer, more accurate understanding of species we thought were lost. Armed with this information, government agencies, conservation organizations and others can make better decisions about what to protect and where.

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Lasting Conservation of a Colorado Jewel: JE Canyon Ranch

JE Canyon | Photo courtesy of the Colorado Natural Heritage ProgramThe NatureServe Network’s local Colorado Natural Heritage Program (CNHP) played a critical role in the conservation of a ranch that will conserve 50,000 acres in southeastern Colorado. 

JE Canyon Ranch is located in an area noted as the largest and most intact prairie ecosystem left in the state, containing 19 rare species and 5 rare plant communities, as well as high quality native grasslands, pinyon-juniper woodlands and wetlands. Experts at CNHP documented the area’s rare species and ecological systems and highlighted its conservation value, which ultimately led to The Nature Conservancy’s(TNC) purchase of the land in 2015.

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Using Science to Save the Colorado River Delta

Aerial shot of dry Colorado riverbed | Photo by Pete McBrideAt one time, the Colorado River Delta comprised over two million acres of thriving wetlands and waterways extending from the southwestern tip of the U.S. to Mexico’s Gulf of California. Once a lush region teeming with plant, bird and marine life, the river delta defined the American West. 

But in the last half century, the imbalance between the human needs all over the basin and the natural output of the delta has reduced the river to a weak trickle. Not only has the lack of water displaced longtime natives of the area, but the biodiversity of the U.S.-Mexican border has been put in jeopardy. 

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The Last Unprotected Polar Bears of Manitoba

Photo of polar bears in Wapusk National Park | Photo by Larry MasterPolar bears – one of the world’s most beloved, iconic, and most vulnerable species – are facing major impacts to their sea-ice habitats from the warming climate in the Canadian province of Manitoba. 

Nicole Firlotte and her team at NatureServe’s partner and network member, the Manitoba Conservation Data Centre, were able to provide precise locations of all the known polar bear dens outside of Wapusk National Park. This work was instrumental in defining the study area for a proposed provincial park that would protect the last remaining polar bear habitat outside of the national park.

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Climate Change Impacts on World’s Smallest Rabbit

Pygmy rabbit (Brachylagus idahoensis) | Photo by R. Dixon (IDFG) and H. Ulmschneider (BLM)NatureServe’s member program in Nevada has discovered that the pygmy rabbit—which is as adorable as it sounds—is vulnerable to climate change. Their discovery has set off a chain reaction of events that will lead to better protection for this tiny creature.

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The Apalachicola

The Florida torreya (Torreya taxifolia), one of the rarest trees in the world | Photo by Gary KnightNatureServe Network scientists were some of the first to reveal that an area in Florida little-known outside the Florida panhandle is one of the most important rare species hotspots in the country—resulting in the protection of an additional 12,000 acres.

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Saving a Misunderstood Plant

Chris Ludwig, Chief Biologist for the Virginia Natural Heritage Program, walks along a protected site in VirginiaThe more time our network’s trained biologists can spend outside tracking rare species and taking inventory of what is out there, the more likely they will find new populations of endangered species. And that is good news for everyone!

In the case of one resilient little plant in Virginia, the shale barren rock cress, the Virginia Natural Heritage Program's discovery of new plant sites has resulted in a revelation: the plant’s listing as an endangered species is no longer needed.

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The Products you Use

Barred owl (Strix varia) | Photo by CUE, NPSIf you use an envelope with a Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) label on it, that paper came from a forest where biodiversity is managed using information from NatureServe. Henning Stabins, a wildlife biologist from Plum Creek Timber Company, uses NatureServe information to help make sure that the company’s forestry does not harm rare species, but instead, helps them to thrive on forest lands.

“Using information from NatureServe, we can make sure our foresters are aware of and protecting rare species like the narrow-leaved gentian.”
–Henning Stabins, Plum Creek Timber Company

The Food you Eat

Rusty-patched bumblebee (Bombus affinis), one of six species newly protected in New York because of the NatureServe network | Photo by Dan MullenAccording to the Food and Agriculture Organization, pollinators such as bees, bats and birds support 35% of the world’s crop production. NatureServe and our network members like the New York Natural Heritage Program are among the leading organizations working to protect pollinators. With our members in the northeastern U.S., and with support from the Sarah K. de Coizart Article TENTH Perpetual Charitable Trust, we researched and ranked the health of 42 species of bumblebees. As a result, Erin White and Matt Schlesinger of the New York Natural Heritage Program worked with the state of New York to add six species of bumblebees to their top priority list—meaning that New York will now take specific, on-the-ground actions to conserve these bumblebees, from educating landscapers on pollinator-friendly practices, to working with agricultural producers to set aside habitat for these six at-risk species.

“Because of the work by NatureServe and the New York Natural Heritage Program, bumblebees will be better conserved in our state.” – Joe Racette, New York State Wildlife Action Plan Coordinator

The Natural Areas you Treasure

Rare bog discovered by NatureServe Network | Photo by Joe RocchioWashington State should soon have a new protected area, thanks to the NatureServe Network. Our biologists are out in the field day in, day out, and often they discover new places that need protection. Joe Rocchio, from our affiliate the Washington Natural Heritage Program, recently discovered a rare bog—the only one of its kind in the Western U.S. This bog is “raised,” meaning that its center is 9 feet above its sides, which is highly unusual. The bog is home to three rare species, including the Makah copper butterfly (Lycaena mariposa charlottensis). Because of Joe’s discovery, this special place is now in the process of becoming a new state natural area.

“If Joe had not been out there, surveying rare plant communities, we might never know that our state has the only raised bog in the Western United States. And without previous efforts by the Washington Natural Heritage Program’s zoologist, John Fleckenstein, we may never have known that it is home to a rare butterfly species! Joe and his colleagues in NatureServe’s member program, the Washington Natural Heritage Program, are the reason why this special place is on our radar, and why it is possible to protect it for generations to come.” - Peter Dunwiddie, Chair of the Washington Natural Heritage Advisory Council