Jon Farrar, NEBRASKAland Magazine/NGPC
Northern Redbelly Dace,
Philina English, Queensland University Biological Station
WHAT DOES RARE MEAN?
Nebraska is home to 95 different species of mammals, 452 species of birds, 60 reptiles & amphibians species, 109 species of fish, 1,470 plant species, and over 10,000 species of insects. We have an amazing biodiversity. The term “biodiversity” means “variety of life” – and Nebraska definitely has that!
Why do we have such a high biodiversity or abundance of different species? Well, Nebraska is in the center of the country. So, we have some eastern species, like the Southern Flying Squirrel (mammal) or the Kentucky Warbler (bird). We have some western species, like the Mountain Short-horned Lizard (reptile) or the Ponderosa Pine (plant). We also have some species from northern areas, like the Longnose Dace (fish) or the Northern Leopard Frog (amphibian). And, we have others from the south, like the Black-tailed Jackrabbit (mammals) or the Carolina Mantid (insect). All these different areas or ecosystems – east, west, north and south – come together in Nebraska. And, with all these different ecosystems, come lots of different animals.
Unfortunately, 30 of these species have been listed as Threatened or Endangered.
Click HERE for a complete list of all Nebraska Threatened and Endangered Species (PDF).
According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the tern “Threatened” refers to:
"any species which is likely to become an Endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range.”
The term “Endangered” refers to:
any species which is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range.”
A species can be federally listed as Threatened or Endangered by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. The process of listing a species as Threatened or Endangered is lengthy and takes into consideration scientific research, range maps, and public input.
A species can also be state listed as Threatened or Endangered. In this case, the species is not considered to be Threatened or Endangered on a national level, but only on a state level. The process of listing a species on a state list also uses scientific research, range maps, and public input.
In addition to Threatened and Endangered species, there are also At-risk species. These designations are developed at the state, not federal, level. In Nebraska, we have Tier I At-risk Species and Tier II At-risk species.
Tier I At-risk Species are defined as:
"those species that are globally or nationally at-risk of extinction or extirpation from
Conservation of these species is needed to prevent future state/federal listings and help listed species recover.
Nebraska species were selected for the Tier I when they met one or more of the following criteria:
State and Federally Listed Species: Species listed as threatened or endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act or the Nebraska Non-game and Endangered Species Conservation Act.
Ranked Species: Species either 1) ranked by NatureServe and the Natural Heritage Network as globally critically imperiled (G1), imperiled (G2), or vulnerable (G3) or 2) species ranked as either state critically imperiled (S1), imperiled (S2), or vulnerable (S3) in all or nearly all states in their range.
Declining species: Species whose abundance and/or distribution has been declining across much of their entire range.
Endemic Species (or nearly so): Species whose entire range of distribution occurs within or primarily within Nebraska.
Disjunct Species: Species whose populations in Nebraska are widely disjunct (200 miles +) from the species’ main range of distribution.
Nebraska has 89 Tier I At-risk species (this includes Nebraska’s 30 threatened & endangered species).
Tier II At-risk Species are defined as:
“those species that are at-risk within Nebraska, but doing well in other parts of their range.”
Nebraska has 686 Tier II At-risk species.