Our Zoology Program covers a wide range of rare species that call Nevada home. Many of these species are endemic to the state, occurring in Nevada and nowhere else in the world. Others may reach the edge of their range, as is the case with many species occurring in the Sierra Nevada mountain range in the western part of the state. Still others are wide-ranging species that are showing evidence of significant declines due to large scale habitat conversions. NNHP biologists map and keep track of all at-risk species, maintaining high-quality data on location and conditions of individual populations, as well as participate in a wide variety of conservation planning efforts.
Many people think of zoology in terms of warm, fuzzy, feathery, scaly, and finny species; however, invertebrates are an equally important, often overlooked, and not well-studied group. For example, the Great Basin has the greatest diversity of springsnails in the world. Many springsnail species are restricted to a single small spring, making protection of these natural resources critical (for more information, please see our Ecology Program page for information about the Nevada Springs Conservation Plan). Additionally, Nevada is 8th in the nation for butterfly diversity, including endemics such as the imperiled Mount Charleston blue butterfly, and the very narrowly endemic Sand Mountain blue butterfly. Other invertebrates that the NNHP are tracking include sand beetles, endemic ants, and rare bees.
NNHP recently partnered with the Nevada Department of Wildlife, The Great Basin Bird Observatory, Lahontan Audubon Society Important Bird Areas Program, and The Nature Conservancy to revise the State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP). In 2001, Congress passed the State Wildlife Grants program (SWG) in recognition of the need for funding of wildlife diversity programs. Congress mandated each state and territory to develop a Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy (now named Wildlife Action Plans) by 2005 in order to continue to receive federal funds through the SWG program.Nevada’s first Wildlife Action Plan was completed and approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in 2005. This plan was then revised in order to incorporate the potential impacts of emerging and expanding stressors – climate change, accelerated energy development, disease, and invasive species – on the state’s fish, wildlife, and habitats. A final draft of the plan is currently under review by the USFWS. As a member of the SWAP team, NNHP played a key role during the revision process. NNHP revised and updated the species accounts and conducted the species-level climate change vulnerability assessments using the Nature Serve Climate Change Vulnerability Index (CCVI) – see Climate Change Program.