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Species of Greatest Conservation Need

Wisconsin Wildlife Action Plan

Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) have low and/or declining populations and need conservation action. They include invertebrates like insects, crayfish, snails and mussels as well as birds, fish, mammals, reptiles and amphibians that are:

  • listed as threatened or endangered;
  • experiencing threats to their life history needs or habitats;
  • few or low in abundance or distribution; or
  • currently not rare but showing declines in abundance or habitat.

Identifying SGCN and species with information needs

RAWA Infographic
Wisconsin native species that are SGCN

Species experts assessed rarity, threats and trends for each species according to the SGCN selection flowchart, which relies on the NatureServe Conservation Status Assessment Methodology. Vulnerability to environmental change, status in Wisconsin relative to the rest of their range and genetic diversity were also assessed.

Species that did not have sufficient information or that did not meet the criteria for SGCN, but were of concern to the experts, were added to the Species with Information Needs (SINS) list. There are three categories of SINS, Basic, Ranking and Monitoring, organized around fundamentally different types of information needed. Their purpose is to help organize research and inventory objectives.

Visit the DNR's rare animals page to see which species are SGCN or in the SINS category.  You can also download the entire list of SGCN and SINS from the WWAP collection.

SGCN, natural community and ecological landscape associations

Wisconsin Wildlife Action Plan ecological priorities diagram

Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) are associated with habitats (or natural communities) and places on the landscape. Understanding relationships among SGCN, natural communities and ecological landscapes help us make decisions about issues affecting SGCN and their habitat and how to respond. The WWAP scores these relationships in two ways:

  • Species-ecological landscape associations (SGCN-EL score). Species' distribution patterns are compared across Wisconsin's sixteen ecological landscapes, which are landform groups that share common physical, biological, vegetation, geological, soil, water and climatic conditions. They can be used to identify the best areas of the state to manage for different natural communities, key habitats and native plants and animals using an ecosystem management perspective. SGCN-EL scores are assigned by species teams based on knowledge of current and historic populations of each species.
  • Species-natural community associations (SGCN-NC score). Species are assessed for their association with 108 natural community types. SGCN-EL associations reflect the geographic extent of a species. SGCN-NC associations reflect their ecological requirements. For example, some terrestrial snails highly associated with the Western Coulees and Ridges Ecological Landscape are only found on moist cliffs and algific talus slopes within this area. SGCN-NC association scores help identify issues and conservation actions, which often occur at a scale smaller than the ecological landscape and tell us which natural community(ies) are important to restore, protect or manage for a species or group of species.

Conservation actions 

Based on the most important issues and threats affecting SGCN and their habitat over the next ten years, species experts identified priority conservation actions and effectiveness monitoring measures.

Plan documents

Related links