Species in Need of Conservation

ABOUT SPECIES IN NEED OF CONSERVATION:

For a closer look at specific endangered and threatened animals go to our Kansas Wildlife Refuge page.

 

There are two broad categories for creatures whose rarity puts them in danger.

  • Endangered - Immediate risk of either local or complete extinction.
  • Threatened - Rare enough that they could become endangered soon.

In each state a third category may used for those species who are generally considered to be in trouble. In Kansas it is called Species in need of Conservation (SINC).  In other states, they may be referred to as Special Concern species.  There are 78 species on the Kansas SINC list as of August 2009.  These break down to:  12 mussels, 1 snail, 2 dragonflys, 1 crayfish, 1 mole cricket, 31 fishes, 2 amphibians, 1 turtle, 6 snakes, 15 birds, and 6 mammals.

Species are ranked in Kansas by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism, in the United States by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and worldwide by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and the Nature Conservancy. The rankings at the state and national levels are required by law, while the world rankings are done by concerned professional organizations and do not have a legal mandate. At all levels, the process for ranking the species seeks to answer these questions:

  1. Do we know enough about the species to assess it properly?
  2. What is the minimum viable population of the species?
  3. What is the critical habitat necessary for survival of the species?
  4. What are the immediate and long-term threats to the species and its habitat?

DID YOU KNOW?

EASTERN SPOTTED SKUNK

THREATENED SPECIES IN KANSAS

 

This small (16-23 inches) skunk is more weasel-like in body shape than the more familiar striped skunk. The Spotted Skunk's stripes are broken in pattern, giving it a "spotted" appearance.

 Spotted Skunks seem to prefer forest edges and upland prairie grasslands, especially where rock outcrops and shrub clumps are present. In western counties, it relies heavily on riparian corridors where woody shrubs and woodland edges are present. Woody fencerows, odd areas, and abandoned farm buildings are also important habitat for Spotted Skunks.

A careful study of these lists might bring to mind some questions:

How can the plants be threatened or endangered nationally and not in Kansas?

Kansas law does not allow the listing of plants. Federal law is the only protector of plant species in Kansas.

Aren't there a lot of mussels on the list?

Yes! Adding in the 12 mussel species on the SINC list, it shows that over half of Kansas' 45 known species of freshwater mussels are in trouble. Nationwide, 71% of freshwater mussel species are either in serious decline or extinct. These creatures are very sensitive to water quality and their plight should be considered a warning that our streams and rivers have grave problems.

Why are so many species on the T&E list in Kansas, but not nationally?

This is usually because Kansas is on the edge of the range of the species.

If a species is common elsewhere, why should we be concerned about those few in our state?

It is important to protect all populations of a species. Those at the fringe of their range are especially important because they may contain the genetic knowledge to help the species adapt if conditions change in the core of the species' range. For example, if the predictions of global warming come to pass, those individuals within a species who can tolerate a hotter or drier climate will be able to carry on while those adapted to cooler and damper conditions will die out. If the species did not have any members with the ability to survive warmer conditions, the whole species would die out.

For more information: