Nevada is home to more than 2,800 native species of flowering plants, making it the 10th most botanically diverse state in the nation. Much of this diversity is found in relatively small "islands" within the "oceans" of sagebrush, greasewood, or creosote bush that greet the eyes of most highway travelers. Such islands include more than 300 named mountain ranges in the state, the highest reaching over 13,000 feet above sea level; isolated springs and wetlands, some with very ancient roots; sand dunes large and small; and pockets of unusual soils weathered from the state's rich geologic heritage.
Because most plants do not migrate as readily as many animal species, they often become adapted to their specific local habitats, making them more vulnerable to short-term disturbances, fires, or rapid climate changes. When their habitat "islands" remain isolated long enough, they often diverge genetically into separate "endemic" species. About 150 such endemic plant species are unique to Nevada, growing here and nowhere else.
About 300 native Nevada plants, including most of our endemics, are considered vulnerable enough to extinction to be of conservation concern. Nine of these are already on the federal lists of endangered and threatened species, and 15 more are considered in danger of extinction in Nevada and have been placed on the state's list of fully protected species by the Nevada State Forester.
By continually monitoring the locations and status of our most vulnerable plant species, and providing a central information source for planners and researchers, the Botany Program contributes to our primary goal of ensuring that no more of Nevada's rich natural heritage becomes threatened with extinction.
- Rare plant habitat modeling
- Digitizing of plant location data and related paper files
- Field surveys and monitoring of vulnerable species
- Review and revision of conservation priorities and ranks
- Compilation of biological information toward a revised and updated Nevada Rare Plant Atlas
- Compilation of native plant photo library
- Jim Morefield – Supervisory Botanist
- Janel Johnson – Botanist and Wetland Ecologist
- Kim Williams – Biologist and Weed Mapper