Species Status Codes
Provided below are definitions for species conservation status ranks, categories and other codes
designated by MTNHP, Federal and State Agencies and non-governmental organizations.
Species of Concern (SOC)
Species of Concern are native taxa that are at-risk due to declining population
trends, threats to their habitats, restricted distribution, and/or other factors.
Designation as a Montana Species of Concern or Potential Species of Concern is
based on the Montana Status Rank, and is not a statutory or regulatory classification.
Rather, these designations provide information that helps resource managers make
proactive decisions regarding species conservation and data collection priorities.
See the latest Species of Concern Reports
for more detailed explanations and assessment criteria.
Special Status Species (SSS)
Special Status Species are not Montana Species of Concern, but need to be recognized in environmental review,
permitting, or planning processes because they either have global conservation status ranks that include
a G1 or G2 or have some legal protections in place. Special Status Species include the following:
Bald Eagle is a Special Status Species because, although it is no longer protected under the Endangered
Species Act and is also no longer a Montana Species of Concern, it is still protected under the
Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act of 1940 (16 U.S.C. 668-668c).
Red Knot is not a Montana Species of Concern, having a state rank of SNA
because it is a rare migrant with accidental to irregular stopovers in Montana's wetlands during its migration between its arctic breeding range and overwintering areas in South America.
However it is a Special Status Species because it is listed as Threatened in Montana under the Endangered Species Act (16 U.S.C. 1531-1544).
Several dozen invertebrates, nonvascular plants, and lichens have global conservation status
ranks that include a G1 or G2, but there is currently insufficient evidence to list them as a Montana Species of Concern.
Potential Species of Concern (PSOC)
Potential Species of Concern are native taxa for which current, often limited,
information suggests potential vulnerability. Also included are animal
species which additional data are needed before an accurate status assessment
can be made.
Status Under Review (Review)
Species designated "Status Under Review" are plant species that require additional
information and currently do not have a status rank but may warrant future consideration
as Species of Concern. This category also includes plant species whose status rank
is questionable due to the availability of new information or the availability of conflicting
or ambiguous information or data. Species listed in this category will be reviewed
periodically or as new information becomes available.
Important Animal Habitat (IAH)
Habitats that are especially important for sustaining populations of individual species or multiple species
during particular time periods or throughout the year are designated "Important Animal Habitat".
These areas include: (1) bat roosting areas such as maternity roosts, hibernacula, and bachelor roosts;
(2) bird rookeries where species congregate in large numbers to breed, incubate eggs, and raise young
due to protections from predators or availability of critical resources; and (3) stopover areas for
migratory birds that provide critical food resources that sustain migration.
Important animal habitats that have been mapped are included with other information
that is provided for environmental reviews.
A plant or animal observation is a visual, audio, specimen, genetic, or other documentation of a particular
species at a location with an assigned spatial precision during a given time period. Observations
must be reported by a credible observer within appropriate time periods and within appropriate habitats
or ecological settings in order to be included in MTNHP plant or animal databases.
Species Occurrences (SO)
A Species Occurrence or "SO" (formerly called an 'Element Occurrence') is an area depicting only what is known
from direct observation with a defined level of certainty regarding the spatial location of the feature.
If an observation can be associated with a map feature that can be tracked (e.g., a wetland) then this polygon
feature is used to represent the SO. Areas that can be inferred as probable occupied habitat based on
direct observation of a species location and what is known about the foraging area or home range size of the
species may be incorporated into the Species Occurrence. A Species Occurrence generally falls into one
of the following three categories:
|Plants and Lichens
A documented location of a specimen collection or observed plant population. In some instances,
adjacent, spatially separated clusters are considered subpopulations and are grouped as one occurrence
(e.g., the subpopulations occur in ecologically similar habitats, and are within approximately one air mile of one another).
Plant and Lichen SO's are only created for
- Species of Concern (SOC) or
- Potential Species of Concern (PSOC)
The location of a specimen collection or of a verified sighting; known or assumed to represent a breeding population.
Additional collections or sightings are often appended to the original record.
Animal SO's are only created for
- Species of Concern (SOC) or
- Special Status Species (SSS) (ie. Bald Eagle).
Significant biological features not included in the above categories, such as bird rookeries, peatlands,
or state champion trees.
The Montana Natural Heritage Program records information on the locations where more than 80 different types
of well-defined repeatable survey protocols capable of detecting an animal species or suite of animal species
have been conducted by state, federal, tribal, university, or private consulting biologists.
Examples of structured survey protocols tracked by MTNHP include: visual encounter and dip net surveys for
pond breeding amphibians, point counts for birds, call playback surveys for selected bird species, visual
surveys of migrating raptors, kick net stream reach surveys for macroinvertebrates, visual encounter cover
object surveys for terrestrial mollusks, bat acoustic or mist net surveys, pitfall and/or snap trap surveys
for small terrestrial mammals, track or camera trap surveys for large mammals, and trap surveys for turtles.
Whenever possible, photographs of survey locations are stored in MTNHP databases. MTNHP does not
typically manage information on structured surveys for native plants, but structured surveys for invasive
species are tracked.
Predicted Suitable Habitat Models
The Montana Natural Heritage Program constructs two types of models for plant and animal species:
(1) rule-based, associations with terrestrial habitats for terrestrial species and streams and other water
bodies for fish and other aquatic species; and (2) mathematically complex Maximum Entropy models (Phillips
et al. 2006, Ecological Modeling 190:231-259) constructed from a variety of statewide biotic and abiotic
layers and presence only data for individual species contributed to Montana Natural Heritage Program
databases for most terrestrial species. Full model write ups for individual species that discuss model
goals, inputs, outputs, and evaluation in much greater detail are posted on the MTNHP’s
Predicted Suitable Habitat Models
page. Evaluations of predictive accuracy and specific limitations are included with the metadata
for models of individual species.
Geographic Range Polygons
Year-round geographic range polygons have not yet been defined for most plant species, but are under
development. Native year-round, summer, winter, migratory and historical geographic range polygons
as well as polygons for introduced populations have been defined for most animal species for which there
are enough observations, surveys, and knowledge of appropriate seasonal habitat use to define them.
These native or introduced range polygons bound the extent of known or likely occupied habitats for
non-migratory and relatively sedentary species and the regular extent of known or likely occupied habitats
for migratory and long-distance dispersing species; polygons may include unsuitable intervening habitats.
For most species, a single polygon can represent the year-round or seasonal range, but breeding ranges of
some colonial nesting water birds and some introduced species are represented more patchily when supported
by data. Some ranges are mapped more broadly than actual distributions in order to be visible on
statewide maps (e.g., fish)
Noxious Weeds (Noxious)
Noxious weeds have a destructive impact on Montana's landscape by displacing native plant species, increasing soil erosion,
and decreasing wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities. The Montana Department of Agriculture oversees Montana's
Noxious Weed List designating noxious species into one of the following management prioritization categories:
For additional information please visit:
PRIORITY 1A These weeds are not present or have a very limited presence in Montana. Management criteria will require eradication if detected, education, and prevention.
PRIORITY 1B These weeds have limited presence in Montana. Management criteria will require eradication or containment and education.
PRIORITY 2A These weeds are common in isolated areas of Montana. Management criteria will require eradication or containment where less abundant. Management shall be prioritized by local weed districts.
PRIORITY 2B These weeds are abundant in Montana and widespread in many counties. Management criteria will require eradication or containment where less abundant. Management shall be prioritized by local weed districts.
Regulated Weeds: Priority 3 are introduced species that have the potential to cause significant negative impacts in the state.
These plants may not be intentionally spread or sold other than as a contaminant in agricultural products.
The state recommends research, education and prevention to minimize the spread of these plants.
Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS)
Aquatic Invasive Species have the potential to damage the economy, environment, recreational opportunities
and human health of Montana. The Montana Aquatic Invasive Species Act (AIS Act) was passed by the 2009
Montana Legislature and was revised in the 2011 legislative session for the purpose of undertaking coordinated
educational, prevention, detection and management activities to prevent, detect, control and manage aquatic
invasive species. The Montana Aquatic Invasive Species Act recognizes that the departments of
Agriculture (MDA); Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP); Montana Department of Transportation (MDT); and Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC)
share concerns and responsibilities over aquatic invasive species and seeks to provide collaboration between
them whenever possible. The departments maintain lists of aquatic invasive species and their priority
classes (if applicable) within their jurisdiction and identify other departments and other public agencies with
overlapping jurisdiction or interests in each species. Primary agency representatives are the State Noxious Weed Coordinator
at MDA, the AIS Coordinator at FWP, the AIS Grant Manager at the DNRC, and the Maintenance Weed Coordinator at MDT.
Currently, there is not an official Aquatic Invasive Species list for the state of Montana.
Species currently shown as Aquatic Invasive Species are from an unofficial list compiled by agency
representatives from MDA, DNRC, FWP, and MDT and recognized by the Montana Invasive Species Council.
Forest Pest Species are those that injure forest tree and shrub species and therefore have the
potential to damage the economy, environment, recreational opportunities and human health of Montana.
Currently, there is not an official Forest Pest Species list for the state of Montana.
Species currently shown as Forest Pest Species are from an unofficial list compiled by agency
representatives from MDA, DNRC, FWP, and MDT and recognized by the Montana Invasive Species Council.
Agricultural Pest Species are those that cause damage to agricultural production and therefore
have the potential to damage the economy and environment of Montana.
Currently, there is not an official Agricultural Pest Species list for the state of Montana.
Species currently shown as Agricultural Pest Species are from an unofficial list compiled by agency
representatives from MDA, DNRC, FWP, and MDT and recognized by the Montana Invasive Species Council.
Biocontrol Species (Biocontrol)
Biocontrol species are natural enemies of non-native pest species that have been introduced in order to reduce
the vigor or population size of the non-native species. In Montana biocontrol species have typically
been insects introduced to control Noxious Weed species in conjunction with other
control efforts such as herbicides, grazing, mowing, and pulling. Typically, insects are imported
from continents where the noxious weeds originated.
Insect predators are carefully tested to be sure they only attack a specific weed and are safe to release
in North America. In Montana, several biological control agents have been successfully used to
reduce infestations of noxious weeds such as leafy spurge and spotted knapweed. County weed coordinators
can provide information on implementing biological control methods, and acquiring insects. See the
links and contacts below for more information.
For More Information
Montana Contacts for Biological Weed Control
Non-native species have been deliberately or accidentally introduced to areas outside of their native
geographic range and are able to reproduce and maintain sustainable populations in these areas.
These non-native populations may also be referred to as alien, introduced, invasive, exotic, or
Species has not been documented in Montana. However it may either be present and undocumented or
may potentially invade the state due to presence in the surrounding region.
Accidental Species (Accidental)
Species that arrived in Montana via unknown or uncommon circumstances, which could include weather related
events or other migratory disturbances.
The term Accidental Species is often assigned to species that have less than 20 verified observations in Montana.
Montana Species Ranking Codes (GRank, SRank)
Montana employs a standardized ranking system to denote
global (range-wide) and state status (NatureServe 2006).
Species are assigned numeric ranks ranging from 1 (highest risk, greatest concern)
to 5 (demonstrably secure), reflecting the relative degree of risk to the species’
viability, based upon available information.
Several categories of information are used to calculate a status rank and the ranking process is flexible to accommodate the information available.
Information on geographic range, population, and area occupied by the species is considered as well as the species' environmental specificity to determine
how common and widespread the species is within the state. Next, information on the short-term (10 years or 3 generations) and long-term
(200 years or time since European arrival) trends in population, habitat, area occupied, or range are assessed. Finally, ongoing and future threats
likely to impact the species in the next 20 years, potential impacts on current populations, and the ability of the species to recover are assessed.
If threat information is lacking, the intrinsic vulnerability of the species to extirpation is assessed. These criteria are then categorized and assigned
a numeric value to calculate the status rank. All ranks are then assessed and approved by the Species of Concern Committee comprised of
Montana Natural Heritage Program and Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks staff with input from species experts and members of the Montana Chapters
of the American Fisheries Society and Wildlife Society. For more information about the ranking process see the
State Conservation Rank Criteria (https://mtnhp.org/animal/2004_SOC_Criteria.htm)
or contact the Species of Concern Committee Chair, Dan Bachen (firstname.lastname@example.org).
At high risk because of extremely limited and/or rapidly declining population numbers, range and/or habitat,
making it highly vulnerable to global extinction or extirpation in the state.
At risk because of very limited and/or potentially declining population numbers, range and/or habitat,
making it vulnerable to global extinction or extirpation in the state.
Potentially at risk because of limited and/or declining numbers, range and/or habitat, even though it may be
abundant in some areas.
||Apparently secure, though it may be quite rare in parts of its range, and/or suspected to be declining.
||Common, widespread, and abundant (although it may be rare in parts of its range). Not vulnerable in most of its range.
Presumed Extinct or Extirpated - Species is believed to be extinct throughout its range or extirpated in Montana.
Not located despite intensive searches of historical sites and other appropriate habitat, and small likelihood that it will ever be rediscovered.
||Historical, known only from records usually 40 or more years old; may be rediscovered.
||Not Ranked as of yet.
Unrankable - Species currently unrankable due to lack of information or due to substantially conflicting
information about status or trends.
A conservation status rank is not applicable because the species or ecosystem is
not a suitable target for conservation activities as a result of being:
1) not confidently present in the state;
2) non-native or introduced;
3) a long distance migrant with accidental or irregular stopovers; or
4) a hybrid without conservation value.
Combination or Range Ranks
Indicates a range of uncertainty about the status of the species
(e.g., G1G3 = Global Rank ranges between G1 and G3).
Indicates that populations in different geographic portions of the species' range in Montana
have a different conservation status
(e.g., S1 west of the Continental Divide and S4 east of the Continental Divide).
||Rank of a subspecies or variety. Appended to the global rank of the full species, e.g. G4T3 where the G-rank reflects the global status of the entire species and the T-rank reflects the global status of just the subspecies.
Questionable taxonomy that may reduce conservation priority-Distinctiveness
of this entity as a taxon at the current level is questionable; resolution of this
uncertainty may result in change from a species to a subspecies or hybrid, or inclusion
of this taxon in another taxon, with the resulting taxon having a lower-priority
(numerically higher) conservation status rank.
Appended to the global rank, e.g. G3Q
||Inexact Numeric Rank - Denotes uncertainty; inexactness.
Breeding - Rank refers to the breeding population of the species in Montana.
Appended to the state rank, e.g. S2B,S5N = At risk during breeding season, but common in the winter
Nonbreeding - Rank refers to the non-breeding population of the species in Montana.
Appended to the state rank, e.g. S5B,S2N = Common during breeding season, but at risk in the winter
Migratory - Species occurs in Montana only during migration.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Endangered Species Act) (USFWS)
Status of a taxon under the federal Endangered Species Act of 1973
(16 U.S.C.A. § 1531-1543 (Supp. 1996))
||Listed endangered: Any species in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range (16 U.S.C. 1532(6)).
||Listed threatened: Any species likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range (16 U.S.C. 1532(20)).
Candidate: Those taxa for which sufficient information on biological status and threats exists to
propose to list them as threatened or endangered. We encourage their consideration in environmental
planning and partnerships; however, none of the substantive or procedural provisions of the Act apply to
||Proposed: Any species that is proposed in the Federal Register to be listed under section 4 of the Act.
||Recovered, delisted, and being monitored - Any previously listed species that is now recovered, has been delisted, and is being monitored.
||Not listed - No designation.
||Experimental - Essential population - An experimental population whose loss would be likely to appreciably reduce the likelihood of the survival of the species in the wild.
||Experimental - Nonessential population - An experimental population of a listed species reintroduced into a specific area that receives more flexible management under the Act.
Critical Habitat - The specific areas (i) within the geographic
area occupied by a species, at the time it is listed, on which are found those
physical or biological features (I) essential to conserve the species and (II)
that may require special management considerations or protection; and (ii)
specific areas outside the geographic area occupied by the species at the time
it is listed upon determination that such areas are essential to conserve the species.
Partial status - status in only a portion of the species' range.
Typically indicated in a "full" species record where an infraspecific taxon or
population, that has a record in the database has USESA status, but the entire
species does not.
For example, Yellow-billed Cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus) is ranked PS:LT.
Partial Status - Listed Threatened.
Designated as Threatened in the Western U.S. Distinct Population Segment (DPS) (subspecies occidentalis)
The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act of 1940 (BGEPA) -
(16 U.S.C. 668-668c) prohibits anyone, without a permit issued by the Secretary of the Interior, from taking bald or golden eagles,
including their parts, nests, or eggs. The BGEPA provides criminal and civil penalties for persons who take, possess, sell,
purchase, barter, offer to sell, purchase or barter, transport, export or import, at any time or any manner, any bald eagle ...
[or any golden eagle], alive or dead, or any part, nest, or egg thereof. The BGEPA defines take as pursue, shoot, shoot at,
poison, wound, kill, capture, trap, collect, molest or disturb. "Disturb" means to agitate or bother a bald or golden eagle
to a degree that causes, or is likely to cause, based on the best scientific information available, 1) injury to an eagle,
2) a decrease in its productivity, by substantially interfering with normal breeding, feeding, or sheltering behavior,
or 3) nest abandonment, by substantially interfering with normal breeding, feeding, or sheltering behavior. In addition to
immediate impacts, this definition also covers impacts that result from human-induced alterations initiated around a previously
used nest site during a time when eagles are not present, if, upon the eagles return, such alterations agitate or bother an eagle
to a degree that injures an eagle or substantially interferes with normal breeding, feeding, or sheltering habits and causes,
or is likely to cause, a loss of productivity or nest abandonment.
The Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) - (16 U.S.C. §§ 703-712, July 3, 1918, as amended 1936, 1960, 1968, 1969, 1974,
1978, 1986 and 1989) implements four treaties that provide for international protection of migratory birds. The
statute’s language is clear that actions resulting in a "taking" or possession (permanent or temporary) of a protected
species, in the absence of a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) permit or regulatory authorization, are a violation
of the MBTA. The MBTA states, "Unless and except as permitted by regulations ... it shall be unlawful at any time,
by any means, or in any manner to pursue, hunt, take, capture, kill ... possess, offer for sale, sell ... purchase
... ship, export, import ... transport or cause to be transported ... any migratory bird, any part, nest, or eggs of
any such bird .... [The Act] prohibits the taking, killing, possession, transportation, import and export of migratory
birds, their eggs, parts, and nests, except when specifically authorized by the Department of the Interior."
The word "take" is defined by regulation as "to pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or
attempt to pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect." The USFWS maintains a
list of species protected by the MBTA
at 50 CFR 10.13. This list includes over one thousand species of migratory birds, including eagles and other raptors,
waterfowl, shorebirds, seabirds, wading birds, and passerines. The USFWS also maintains a
list of species not protected by the MBTA.
MBTA does not protect species that are not native to the United States or species groups not explicitly covered under the
MBTA; these include species such as the house (English) sparrow, European starling, rock dove (pigeon), Eurasian collared-dove,
and non-migratory upland game birds.
The 1988 amendment to the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act mandates the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to identify
species, subspecies, and populations of all migratory nongame birds that, without additional conservation actions,
are likely to become candidates for listing under the Endangered Species Act.
Birds of Conservation Concern 2008 (BCC 2008)
is the most recent effort to carry out this mandate. The overall goal of this report is to accurately identify the
migratory and non-migratory bird species (beyond those already designated as federally threatened or endangered)
that represent the Service's highest conservation priorities. BCC10, BCC11, and BCC17 designations represent inclusion
on the Birds of Conservation Concern list for Bird Conservation Region 10, 11, and 17 in Montana, respectively.
Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
BLM Sensitive Species are defined by the BLM 6840 Manual as native species found on
BLM-administered lands for which the BLM has the capability to significantly affect the conservation
status of the species through management, and either:
(1) there is information that a species has recently undergone, is undergoing, or is predicted to undergo a downward trend such that the viability of the species or a distinct population segment of the species is at risk across all or a significant portion of the species range, or;
(2) the species depends on ecological refugia or specialized or unique habitats on BLM-administered lands, and there is evidence that such areas are threatened with alteration such that the continued viability of the species in that area would be at risk.
||Denotes species that are listed as Endangered under the Endangered Species Act
||Denotes species that are listed as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act
||Denotes species listed as Sensitive on BLM lands
U.S. Forest Service (USFS)
||U.S. Forest Service Manual (2670.22) defines Sensitive Species on Forest Service lands as those for which population viability is a concern as evidenced by a significant downward trend in population or a significant downward trend in habitat capacity. These designations were last updated in 2011 and they apply only on USFS-administered lands with land management plans finalized prior to 2017. Sensitive Species designations are being replaced by Species of Conservation Concern designations on individual National Forest as revised land management plans are finalized under the 2012 planning rule.
|Species of Conservation Concern
||A species, other than federally recognized Threatened, Endangered, Proposed, or Candidate species, that is known to occur in the plan area and for which the regional forester has determined that the best available scientific information indicates substantial concern about the species’ capability to persist over the long-term in the plan area (36 CFR 219.9). Species of Conservation Concern replace regional forester Sensitive Species on individual National Forests as revised land management plans are finalized under the 2012 planning rule.
FWP State Wildlife Action Plan (FWP SWAP)
In recent years states have received federal funding to develop State Wildlife Action Plans.
Montana's first SWAP, the Comprehensive Fish and Wildlife Conservation Strategy, was approved by the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service in 2006. An updated SWAP was subsequently approved by the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service in 2015 to assist with guiding conservation efforts throughout Montana by identifying
species and habitats that are in greatest need of conservation. Montana vertebrates with a state conservation
status rank of S1, S2, or S3 and the Western Pearlshell Mussell were included as Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN).
SGCN with state conservation status ranks of S1, S2, and S3 are listed on Montana Natural Heritage Program websites as
SGCN1, SGCN2, and SGCN3, respectively. The SWAP also identifies Species of Greatest Inventory Need (SGIN) if they
are a Species of Concern or Potential Species of Concern and they lack, or have outdated, statewide baseline surveys that
can be used to assess their state conservation status.
Percent of Global Breeding Range in MT
The percentage of the species’ Global Breeding Range represented by its Breeding Range in Montana.
Percent of MT that is Breeding Range
The percentage of Montana’s Total Area identified as the Breeding Range of this species.
A short description of the general habitat in which you are most likely to find this species.
Partners In Flight (PIF)
Partners In Flight (PIF) is a partnership
of federal and state agencies, industry, non-governmental organizations, and many others,
with the goal of conserving North American birds. In 1991, PIF began developing a formal
species assessment process that could provide consistent, scientific evaluations of
conservation status across all bird species in North America, and identify areas most
important to the conservation of each species. This process applies quantitative rule
sets to complex biological data on the population size, distribution, population trend,
threats, and regional abundance of individual bird species to generate simple numerical
scores that rank each species in terms of its biological vulnerability and regional status.
The process results in global and regional conservation assessments of each bird species that,
among other uses, can be used to objectively assign regional and continental conservation
priorities among birds.
The species assessment scores and process has recently been updated! Check out the
new scores and make sure to
download and read the updated Handbook on Species Assessment,
which contains important information on the how scores are derived and used in the assessment
process. Note that currently only breeding-season regional scores are available for
BCRs. We hope to have non-breeding scores available soon. For those needing
access to the previous versions of the PIF Species Assessment Database, including past
regional scores for physiographic areas, click here.
State Threat Score
The State Threat Score represents the degree to which the viability of a species is degraded by extrinsic factors (stressors),
which are characterized in terms of a scope and severity
(Faber-Langendoen et al. 2012).
It is assessed by Montana Natural Heritage Program botanists in coordination with taxonomic experts using NatureServe's
methodologies for calculating the Overall Threat Impact Score. Species are assigned a threat score from the categories below,
but a range of scores may be shown if uncertainty exists. If no threat score is listed, threats have not yet been assessed for this species.
A threat is a proximate activity or process that has caused, is causing, or may cause the destruction, degradation, and/or impairment
to the species or its habitat. Threats may be related to human activities or may be natural. The threat impact score is calculated
only for present and future threats. For detailed threat assessment methodology, please see:
NatureServe Conservation Status Assessments: Factors for Evaluating Species and Ecosystem Risk
Threats are having a significant negative impact on the species or most of its populations and are likely to eliminate
viable occurrences or habitat across its range. This is based on the documentation of either 1 or more Extreme and Pervasive
threats OR multiple lesser threats that cumulatively represent a substantial threat to the persistence of the species.
Population declines of 50-100% would be expected.
Threats are having a negative impact on the species or many of its populations and are likely to seriously degrade occurrences
or habitat across its range. This is based on the documentation of either 1 or more Serious and Large threats OR multiple
lesser threats that cumulatively represent a notable threat to the persistence of the species or some of its populations.
Population declines of 10-70% would be expected.
Threats are having a negative impact on the species or some of its populations and are likely to moderately degrade occurrences
or habitat of the species, but impacts are either less widespread or less severe. This is based on the documentation of either
1 or more threats with at least Moderate severity and Large scope or at least Serious severity and Restricted scope OR multiple
lesser threats that cumulatively represent a measurable threat to the persistence of the species or some of its populations.
Population declines of 3-30% would be expected.
Threats are having a limited or negligible impact on the species and its populations across its range. This is based on the
documentation of only Slight and Small threats (in limited number). Population declines of 0-10% would be expected.
|No Known Threats
Threats are not present, have not been documented, or are not currently active. If potential stressors have been observed,
they may either: produce a neutral impact or potential benefit to the species; or only exist in the past or in the future
(more than ten years or three generations). Population impacts are not expected.
Threats are potentially present or have been recognized, but information on the scope or severity of threats is conflicting
or inconclusive. Impacts on a species or its populations is unclear based on existing evidence.
Climate Change Vulnerability Index (CCVI)
The Climate Change Vulnerability Index provides a rapid, cost-effective means of estimating a plant or animal species'
relative vulnerability to climate change. It combines readily accessible information on the natural history, distribution,
and management with downscaled climate predictions available on this page. The Index can be used for both rare and common
plants and animals — important factor given that overall conservation status has proven to be an unreliable proxy for
vulnerability to climate change.
The Index separates vulnerability into its three primary components: a species' exposure to climate change within a particular
assessment area, its inherent sensitivity to climate change, and its capacity to adapt to change. The tool gauges 23
scientifically documented factors and indicators of these components, as well as documented responses to climate change
where they exist. While the Index calculates the likelihood of declines in populations of individual species, it also
accommodates inherent uncertainties about how species respond within their ecological contexts.
Results fall into five categories:
- Extremely Vulnerable
- Highly Vulnerable
- Moderately Vulnerable
- Less Vulnerable
- Insufficient Evidence
Resource managers, planners, and conservationists can use the Index to:
- Conduct rapid assessments of the relative vulnerability of both rare and common species to climate change
- Identify the most critical risk factors for groups of species
- Highlight target species that warrant more in-depth study and research
- Detect areas containing high concentrations of species threatened by climate change impacts
- Begin to examine how impacts may cause the range of species populations to expand or retreat
- Complement conservation status assessments to set conservation priorities across property and jurisdictional boundaries
- Promote coordination, consistency, and efficiency of planning and managing for adaptation
- Provide valuable input on species in key planning documents such as State Wildlife Action Plans
Montana Coefficient of Conservatism Values (C-value)
The Montana Coefficient of Conservatism (C-) value measures a plant species' tolerance to disturbance
(natural and/or human derived) and its fidelity to a specific habitat in Montana. A process for
assigning C-values to Montana plants was developed in 2005 and revised in 2015 and 2016. A panel of Montana's
botany experts determined the plant's C-value using a dichotomous key and definitions published by
Zomlefer, et al. (2013), in addition to, expertise, literature, and herbarium records.
As of 2015,
approximately 1,623 native and non-native plants have been assigned a C-value.
The C-value scale ranges from 0 to 10 based on the following definitions:
|Non-Native Montana Species|
| ||1||relatively benign|
|Native Montana Species|
| ||Opportunistic, Broad Ecological Tolerance|
| ||2||exhibits a broad range of ecological tolerance and is more or less restricted to areas of human disturbance|
| ||Non-Opportunistic, Intermediate Ecological Tolerance|
| ||3||exhibits an intermediate range of ecological tolerance, typifies a stable phase of a native community, and thrives and/or persists under natural or human disturbance|
| ||4||exhibits an intermediate range of ecological tolerance, typifies a stable phase of a native community, and persists but does not thrive with some natural or human disturbance|
| ||5||exhibits an intermediate range of ecological tolerance, typifies a stable phase of a native community, and persists but does not thrive with a little natural or human disturbance|
| ||Non-Opportunistic, Narrow Ecological Tolerance|
| ||6||exhibits a moderate fidelity to a more or less narrow range of ecological tolerance, typifies a stable or near climax community, and tolerates limited natural or human disturbance (unless surrogate for fire or other natural disturbance)|
| ||7||exhibits a moderate fidelity to a somewhat narrow range of ecological tolerance, typifies a stable or near climax community, and does not tolerate disturbance|
| ||8||exhibits a moderate fidelity to a narrow range of ecological tolerance, typifies a stable or near climax community, and does not tolerate disturbance|
| ||9||exhibits a high fidelity to a narrow range of ecological tolerance, typifies a stable or near climax community, and does not tolerate disturbance|
| ||10||exhibits a very high fidelity to a very narrow range of ecological tolerance that typifies a stable or near climax community and does not tolerate disturbance|
Zomlefer, W., L. Chafin, R. Carter, and D. Giannasi. 2013.
Coefficient of Conservatism Rankings for Flora of Georgia: Wetland Indicator Species.
Southeastern Naturalist, 12(4): 790-808. Eagle Hill Institute.
Relative Density Map
Relative density maps display the relative density of observations submitted in each latilong, quarter latilong,
or quarter-quarter latilong. The maps are constructed by:
(1) calculating the total number of observations in each latilong block;
(2) counting the number of distinct total values;
(3) dividing the total number of distinct values by 5 to create 5 map classes
(any remainders are sequentially added to lower map classes); and
(4) color coding each latilong block with the corresponding map class.
Recency maps display the most recent observation reported in each latilong, quarter latilong, or quarter-quarter latilong
and color codes each as 0-5, 5-10, 10-15, 15-20, and 20+ years ago.
Bird "Observation Type" Maps - Definition of STATUS
Each bird sighting is entered in our database with a "status" code (B, b, t, W, or w; see criteria below) to indicate information about the bird when
it was observed. The status of a bird describes whether it was breeding, presumed to be breeding, transient ("passing through"), or
wintering in the area in which it was seen.
There are two seasons which are important. The breeding season is defined by sightings made between February 16 and December 14;
while the winter season is defined by observations made between December 15 and February 15 (see below).
The symbols used are defined as follows:
|SUMMER - Breeding Season (February 16 - December 14)
Direct Evidence of Breeding: evidence that eggs or young have been produced.
Breeding is not assumed simply by presence or behavior. "B" is used only if one
of the following criteria are met:
- Occupied nest – adult attending a nest with eggs or nestlings (incubation or brooding), or adults entering or leaving nest site in circumstances indicating an occupied nest (includes high nests or cavities, the contents of which cannot be seen).
- Recently fledged young (of altricial species) incapable of sustained flight, or downy young (of precocial species) restricted to the area by dependence on adults or limited mobility.
- Adults attending young - adult carrying food or fecal sac for young, or feeding recently fledged young.
- Nest with egg(s) that can be clearly identified. The presence of cowbird eggs or young is confirmation of breeding for both cowbird and host species.
- Used nest with eggshell, or just eggshell, found (identification must be convincing for such records to be accepted, and cannot be based on the nest alone).
Indirect Evidence of Breeding. "b" is used if only if one or more of the following criteria are met:
- Singing males or territorial birds observed in suitable nesting habitat during the breeding season.
- Courtship behavior or copulation.
- Adults visiting a probable nest site.
- Agitation behavior, distraction display, feigning injury, or anxiety call from an adult.
- Nest building.
- Physiological evidence of breeding (incubation patch or egg in oviduct) based on bird in hand.
- Independent young of the year unaccompanied by adult (for non-migratory species or prior to normal migration).
No Evidence of Breeding, no breeding behavior. "t" is used to indicate
presence of any species (resident, migrant, or transient) that exhibits no breeding
behavior at the time observed. Behavior activities outside the winter season
that do not fit "B" or "b" should be considered "t". See "B" and "b" above to
determine if a behavior constitutes direct or indirect evidence of breeding.
|WINTER (December 15 - February 15)
Regularly Observed. "W" is used to indicate regular observations of the
species during the winter period. Regular is defined as at least 3 days
between 15 December and 14 January and 3 days between 15 January and 15 February.
"W" can be documented two ways: (1) an individual observer submits data with dates for
when the bird was observed during the winter months, following the above criteria,
or (2) multiple "w" records in the Montana Bird Distribution database for the same
latitude/longitude block during the same winter season are used to generate a
"W" following the above date criteria. Individuals submitting data need to
include the dates for which the bird was observed during the winter period in the
comments section of the report form.
Not Regularly Observed. Observed during the winter season, but not confirmed overwintering.
"w" is used to indicate that the species was observed at least once between
15 December and 15 February, but not regularly during the winter season.
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