Species at Risk on Department of Defense Lands


Department of Defense lands play an essential role in maintaining homeland security, and are also important for safeguarding the nation’s natural heritage.  Managing DoD lands in a way that both supports military readiness and sustains ecological integrity requires an understanding of the species and ecosystems that are found on and around these bases.

In order for the Department of Defense to effectively protect, manage, and monitor at-risk species on its lands, DoD must have up-to-date information on where these species occur on their lands nationwide. Utilizing the most current species location data in NatureServe's databases, NatureServe conducted an analysis of species at risk on DoD lands, providing lists of species by installation and revised maps and figures.

This analysis represents an update of a previous analysis by NatureServe, also funded by the Department of Defense Legacy Program that was based on 2002 species location data.   It is critical to make use of the most current and accurate species status and location data, since this information is continually changing and being updated and refined, and numerous new species occurrences are added to the database each year.

In this updated analysis we define species at risk as plant and animal species that are not yet federally listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act, but that are federally designated as proposed or candidates for listing, are regarded by NatureServe as critically imperiled or imperiled (G1 or G2) throughout their range, or are birds that are regarded by NatureServe as vulnerable (G3) throughout their range.  NatureServe provides two major types of analyses in this report: (1) analyses of species at risk that are highly dependent on DoD lands and management for their survival, and (2) analyses of installations with high numbers or densities of species at risk.  These analyses aim to help DoD to direct resources towards both high priority species and high priority installations.

A key finding of our updated 2011 assessment is that the total number of species at risk on DoD lands remained similar to the numbers based on the 2002 data (519 species at risk were reported in 2011, compared to 523 species reported in the 2004 report), despite an increase of over 25,000 new species at risk element occurrences in NatureServe’s databases since 2002.  On closer inspection, although the total number changed very little, the actual species on the lists changed fairly significantly.   The reasons for these changes in species lists are due to several factors, including new element occurrences added to the NatureServe databases, more precise species location information, changes in federal status, changes in taxonomy, and changes in species conservation status assessment ranks.