Providing focus on imperiled species tracked by NatureServe, including the most important habitats for 600 Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) identified by states, Endangered Species, and many species proposed for listing under the Endangered Species Act.
Quick start guide
- Identify areas of ecological importance to imperiled species (Species of Greatest Conservation Need)
- Plan the recovery of populations and restore their habitats
- Conserve multi-species habitat to secure imperiled species
- Develop single or multi-species conservation strategies
- Sustain ecological value in private lands by promoting stewardship with private landowners
- Inform strategic acquisition of parcels by public or nonprofit organizations
- Identify priority locations for restoration
- Set local conservation priorities within a regional perspective
You can also get more information by turning on the individual component products that are available in the map but not activated when you open it. To see the list of these products, click on the “Layers” tab on the left side of the map. Click in the boxes to the left of the product names to activate them, and click on the arrows to the right of the product names to find out more details about the products and perform other tasks. For example, you can activate the Index of Ecological Integrity and Terrestrial and Aquatic Habitat Map (DSLland) datasets. Once a product is activated, you can also learn more about what you are seeing in the map using the Identify Tool.
Try using the Identify Tool with Habitat Importance or DSLland to identify the type of habitat present in a particular location. You can learn more about terrestrial and aquatic habitat types by referring to the Northeast Habitat Guides: A Companion to the Terrestrial and Aquatic Habitat Maps. The habitats and maps described in this document the foundation of Nature’s Network, and are the source of the data used to develop DSLland.
Habitat Condition for Imperiled Species contains a possible range of values from 0-200. We cautiously recommend interpreting the top ⅓ of Habitat Condition as intact, the middle ⅓ as being moderately intact and the bottom ⅓ as being degraded and probably in need of restoration. The top, middle, and bottom third of the Habitat Condition layer are accordingly labelled “Protect,” “Buffer,” and “Restore.” The labels are not a formal prescription for action; they are only meant help interpret the condition of the habitats. The Habitat Condition and Core Habitat layers identify areas of ecological importance at a regional level that organizations can combine with local or other information and data to set their own conservation priorities. Areas where Core Habitat for Imperiled Species coincide with the Terrestrial and Aquatic Core Area Networks of Nature’s Network, as well as state and local priorities, may be especially promising locales for conservation action.
With a free DataBasin account, you can also upload your organization’s priorities into a private map for comparison with Habitats for Imperiled Species, or you can download the Nature’s Network products if your organization has GIS analysis capabilities. For example, if you have access to species locations from your state’s Natural Heritage Program, you can compare their locations to the habitat condition products.
The top one-third of the mapped habitat importance scores (a score >77 on a scale of 0-200) are considered “Important Habitats.” These habitats were then combined with a special version of the Index of Ecological Integrity (developed by UMass Amherst) to create Habitat Condition for Imperiled Species. The final result contains a possible range of values from 0-200.
The top one-third of Habitat Condition values, which are assessed to have the highest ecological integrity and are labelled “Protect,” were extracted from Habitat Condition for Imperiled Species to create Core Habitat for Imperiled Species. These core areas are expected to support high levels of biological diversity, rare species, or imperiled species and are necessary to ensure their persistence.
More information about how these products were derived, and limitations and uncertainties, are available in the detailed technical documentation.
Known Issues and Uncertainties
- The results do not incorporate important social, economic, or feasibility factors.
- Users are cautioned against using the data on too small an area (for example, a small parcel of land), as the data may not be sufficiently accurate at that level of resolution.
- The identification of areas as providing habitat for imperiled species does not necessarily mean that imperiled species are actually present in those areas.
- The mapping of habitats (ecosystem types) is known to be imperfect, which consequently affects the mapped values for ecosystem integrity and species habitat. While the habitat mapping is anticipated to correctly reflect broad patterns of ecosystem occurrence, errors in classification and placement do occur. Additionally, some specialized, small-patch habitats may be missed entirely.
- State Natural Heritage Programs may not track the same suite of species within each jurisdiction. Additionally, there are gaps in geographic coverage both within and among states with variation in survey effort. The current versions of the products do not reflect rare species data from Rhode Island. We attempted to compensate for these issues in this analysis.
- The identification of Core Habitat for Imperiled Species is predicated on the assumption that biodiversity is best supported by intact, well connected landscapes. While this assumption is soundly grounded in conservation biology theory and findings, it is recognized that many species of conservation concern may depend on habitat currently existing in a less intact state or otherwise missed by core areas. Habitat Condition for Imperiled Species, in particular, complements the core areas by identifying such areas.