Species at Risk on DoD Installations


About This Project

Department of Defense lands play an essential role in maintaining homeland security, and are also important for safeguarding the nation's natural heritage. Managing Department of Defense lands in a way that both supports military readiness and sustains ecological integrity requires an understanding of the species and ecosystems that are found on and around these bases. The information and analyses provided by NatureServe and its member natural heritage programs provides the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with key findings about species at risk on military bases.

Goal

In order for the Department of Defense to effectively protect, manage, and monitor at-risk species on its lands, DoD must have up-to-date information on where these species occur on their lands nationwide. Using the most current species location data in NatureServe's databases, NatureServe provides current lists of Species at Risk by DoD installation.

Significance

Proactive conservation of imperiled species and their habitats on and around DoD installations can help preclude the need for federal listing, reduce recovery costs, and protect significant biological diversity, while enabling the services to continue providing high quality military training. NatureServe's work in this report is intended to assist the military in focusing conservation efforts on high priority installations and towards high priority species at risk that may warrant federal listing if population declines occur or continue.

We produced two assessments, one in 2004 and an update in 2011. Some of the key findings of our 2004 assessment were:

  • Of 523 species at risk found to occur on DOD installations, 47 were federal candidates, 136 were regarded by NatureServe as critically imperiled, and 340 were imperiled;
  • Twenty-four species at risk appear to be restricted to individual DoD installations. Overall, 82 species at risk have at least half of their occurrences residing on individual installations;
  • Of the 729 DOD installations analyzed in this report, 224 (30%) contained species at risk.
  • In terms of total numbers, Army installations contain almost twice the number of at-risk species as Air Force and Navy installations. In terms of species at risk density, Army and Navy installations contain roughly three-fold greater densities than do Air Force, Marine Corps, and Army Corps of Engineers installations;

A key finding of our updated 2011 assessment is that, while the total number of species at risk on DoD lands remained similar (519 species at risk were reported in 2011), the actual species on the lists changed fairly significantly. The reasons for these changes in species are due to several factors, including new species occurrences added to the NatureServe databases, more precise species location information, changes in federal status, changes in taxonomy, and changes in species conservation status assessment ranks.