How can I find the scientific names of plants and animals?

Finding the scientific name requires detective work, because there can be multiple common names that can vary geographically, and similar common names can refer to a variety of organisms. A good starting point is the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS), a database of scientific and common names and broad taxonomic categories.  

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Do alligators and crocodiles exist together anywhere in the world?

The American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) lives in several places within the Americas, including Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and south Florida. The American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) is also found in south Florida, among other places. South Florida is the only place you can find both animals in the wild. To...

What are the differences between endangered, threatened, imperiled, and at-risk species?

Under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), plant and animal species may be listed as either endangered or threatened. “Endangered” means a species is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range. “Threatened” means a species is likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future.' States have their own ESA-type...

What is an invasive species and why are they a problem?

An invasive species is an introduced, nonnative organism (disease, parasite, plant, or animal) that begins to spread or expand its range from the site of its original introduction and that has the potential to cause harm to the environment, the economy, or to human health. A few well-known examples include the unintentional introduction of the...

Why are bats important?

By eating insects, bats save U.S. agriculture billions of dollars per year in pest control. Some studies have estimated that service to be worth over $3.7 billion per year, and possibly as much as $53 billion. This value does not, however, take into account the volume of insects eaten by bats in forest ecosystems and the degree to which that...

How many amphibian species are there in the United States?

There are about 230 species of amphibians, including about 190 species of salamanders and 90 species of frogs and toads, that can be found in the continental United States. The USGS is the lead agency for the Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative (ARMI) , a program of amphibian monitoring, research, and conservation that was established in...

Why are frog and toad populations declining? 

Research suggests that even though amphibians are severely declining worldwide, there is no smoking gun – and thus no simple solution – to halting or reversing these declines. Though every region in the United States has suffered amphibian declines, threats differ among regions. They include: Human influence from the Mississippi River east,...
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Date published: March 6, 2019

New Species Habitat Distribution Maps Now Support Conservation Planning at a National Scale

A new dataset of habitat distribution for terrestrial vertebrate species in the conterminous United States is now available from the USGS.

Date published: February 23, 2017

Just HOW EARLY is spring arriving in your neighborhood? Find out . . .

Get your flip-flops and shorts out because spring is arriving very early this year . . . at least 2-3 weeks early across almost the entire Southeast, from San Antonio to Atlanta to Washington, D.C.  This unusually early spring is likely to keep rolling north, bringing relatively early ‘signs of spring’ to portions of the central Midwest and northeastern states.

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September 28, 2017

2017 September Evening Public Lecture — What's in a species name?

Title: What's in a species Name?: How wildlife management relies on modern systematics research and museum collections
* What have museum collections taught us about invasive diseases?
* When is an endangered species not a species?
* How can birds in a museum help protect airline passengers?
* How do geology and biology govern what species we find on

April 28, 2016

Untapped Capacity: Our 4,000 Species of Native Bees

So many unknowns and so many potentials.

  • In secret, Native Bees, not honey bees, do most of our pollinating
  • Why we don't know the status of 99% of our Native Bees
  • Why are there 400 Native Bees without names
  • Why biodiverse native plant communities = biodiverse native bee communities