New Database available: USGS Releases "Species of Greatest Conservation Need” Lists

Release Date:

The USGS announces the release of the Species of Greatest Conservation Need national database. The SGCN lists are part of the State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP) process and identify the species most in need of conservation action in that state or territory. In total, 16,420 species have been included in the SGCN national list.

Close up picture of a tiger salamander
The tiger salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum) is listed as a species of conservation need for 18 states. (Daniel Wieferich, USGS)(Public domain.)

The national Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) list is brought together using the combined power of the USGS Integrated Taxonomic Information System, the World Register of Marine Species, USGS data science, a technology testbed from the Earth Science Information Partners, and scientific expertise from states and territories. The tool was presented October 25 at the 2017 National State Wildlife Action Plan Meeting held in Pine Mountain, Georgia.

“By pulling this information together into a national list, we are able to see a better picture of species in need of conservation action,” said Kevin T. Gallagher, Associate Director for Core Science Systems. “This database will act as a useful tool for states, territories, and partners to inform management actions for species most in need.”

State Wildlife Action Plans are proactive plans that assess the health of each state’s wildlife and habitats, identify key threats, and outline the actions needed to conserve fish and wildlife over the long term. Each plan identifies those species that are of greatest conservation need and the steps needed to conserve these species and their habitats before they become even more rare and costly to restore. The plans are developed in collaboration with federal, state and private partners and with participation from the public and layout a vision for sustaining fish and wildlife for future generations. The first SWAPs were drafted in 2005 and mandated by Congress to repeat every ten years in order for states to be eligible for federal funding through the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program.

Overall, the number of species of greatest conservation need has not changed much between 2005 and 2015. Although some species have been removed from the list, others have been added, so states can monitor and address key threats proactively to help ensure the sustainability of all species for future generations.

State Wildlife Action Plan

Picture of a wood turtle
The wood turtle (Glyptemys insculpta) is currently under review by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and is a regional concern for the northeast. A total of 16 states and the District of Columbia have this species on their species of greatest conservation need list. (Daniel Wieferich, USGS)(Public domain.)