1. NatureServe
    Chief Zoologist & Senior Conservation Scientist
    (703) 908-1805

    Bruce Young has over 20 years of experience in biodiversity conservation throughout the Americas. He coordinates NatureServe’s Botany and Zoology programs, the premier source for conservation status information for over 36,000 North American species. Dr Young has led or co-led projects to develop digital distribution maps of all Western Hemisphere birds, mammals, and amphibians; assess the extinction risk of the world’s amphibians; and map the distribution of endemic plant and animal species and ecological systems of the Eastern Andean Slope and the Amazon Basin in Peru and Bolivia in support of conservation planning in the region. More recently he has turned his attention to the threat that climate change poses to biodiversity, developing a popular index to rapidly assess the vulnerability of species to climate change and leading an effort to share lessons learned and develop priorities for the incorporation of climate change into tropical conservation planning. Dr. Young holds a B.A. in Biology from Cornell University and a Ph.D. in Zoology from the University of Washington, and has published 44 papers in scientific journals.



Since its inception, NatureServe and the natural heritage network have recognized the critical need for better documentation and reporting on the status, trends, and conservation needs of aquatic biodiversity.

The landmark publication Rivers of Life (Masters et al. 1998) demonstrated both the global importance of U.S. freshwater biodiversity and endemism and the high level of imperilment facing these species. Rivers of Life played a major role in raising awareness about the pressing need for freshwater conservation, resulting in an increased prominence of at-risk freshwater fish and mussels in state Wildlife Action Plans and an increase in awareness of at-risk species overall.

Today, new stressors such as climate change combine with historical threats such as dams, river channeling, loss of riparian vegetation, and contaminants to present even greater challenges to preserving freshwater species. At the same time, dedicated public and private conservation measures, including dam removal, restoration of river flow regimes, riparian corridor protection, and efforts to reduce pollutants, have improved conditions in targeted areas.

NatureServe continues to work closely with the Network Programs and other key partners to build on Rivers of Life by developing the data products and analyses needed to support informed conservation action.