State wildlife action plans serve as a blueprint for state-based conservation action. These plans start with the identification of those species in a state that are in need of proactive conservation attention—known as “Species of Greatest Conservation Need” (SGCN). Because species do not respect state borders, it is also important to promote cross-state and regional-scale conservation planning and action. To do so, National Wildlife Federation has been involved in helping develop lists of regional priority species (“Regional Species of Greatest Conservation Need," or RSGCN) in regions such as the Southeastern United States.
The Southeast harbors an enormous diversity of fish and wildlife species, including more species of salamanders than anywhere in the world. Emblematic of that diversity, a single river in Tennessee (the Duck) contains more freshwater fish species than all of Europe. With such great diversity, the combined lists of SGCNs for the 15 southeastern states totals nearly 6,700 species.
To provide greater clarity and focus for regional conservation and multi-state collaborations among state fish and wildlife agencies and partners (including the Southeastern Conservation Adaptation Strategy), National Wildlife Federation worked with the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Terwilliger Consulting, and others to develop a list of “Regional Species of Greatest Conservation Need” (RSGCN) for the Southeast. This list was constructed using a set of consistent criteria to evaluate state-identified imperiled species. Species were evaluated based on several primary factors, including: the level of conservation concern, regional stewardship responsibility, and biological or ecological significance.
Overall, 960 species were identified as RSGCNs. Freshwater fish, crayfish, and freshwater mussels represent nearly two-thirds of regional priority species, highlighting the extraordinary levels of aquatic biodiversity in the Southeast and the precarious condition of many of those species.
The RSGCN list for the Southeast region should greatly enhance the ability of fish and wildlife agencies to work across state boundaries, as well as with federal agencies and non-governmental organizations to efficiently plan and implement species conservation efforts.
For more information, visit this blog post: Priorities for conservation in Southeastern states - Newly created list of “Regional Species of Greatest Conservation Need”
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