The Mid-Atlantic Center for Herpetology and Conservation will create a sub-contract with Tangled Bank Inc. to genotype approximately 500 individuals across the northeastern range using single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers to add to samples collected as part of an existing grant from The Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA). The TSA project to develop a barcoding system using genetic samples collected across the range. The RCN funds will increase the number of samples analyzed from the Northeast region and support an assessment to identify conservation units.
These projects were supported by State Wildlife Grant Funding awarded through the Northeast Regional Conservation Needs (RCN) Program.
This project built consensus across all 13 states and the District of Columbia and culminated with an updated 2022 Lexicon ready for application in 2025 SWAP revisions. See an overview video on the project here.
Recent declines in commercial honey bee colonies, and potential impacts on crop production, have heightened attention on the plight of native pollinators. Although many groups of native pollinators remain understudied and poorly understood, there is increasing evidence of alarming declines in some species. For example, the once widespread rusty-patched bumblebee was recently listed as Federally Endangered, and significant declines of other North American bumblebees have been documented (Cameron et al. 2011).
This initiative will improve our overall effectiveness in conserving, restoring, and managing landscapes critical for the conservation of Blanding’s and Wood Turtles, and other species as appropriate in conjunction with Wood and Blanding’s Turtles, building upon years of dedicated coordination among Northeastern States to identify the most important landscapes and necessary conservation actions for these at-risk species.
The Northeast states share a long history of conservation and collaboration. The region’s extensive forests, wetlands, rivers, and coastline cross state boundaries, and a tradition of working together to understand and conserve them has evolved. In 2008, the Northeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (NEAFWA) and its partners developed a multi-state monitoring framework to take stock of the condition and conservation of the species and habitats that characterize the region.
From 2019–2023, the Northeast Eastern Box Turtle Working Group — a team of state, federal, university, and NGO biologists — collaborated to develop a status assessment and conservation plan for the eastern box turtle in the northeastern United States (Virginia to Maine). As a part of this project, we:
Over the two-year sampling period, a total of 20 distinct sites in northern New York were sampled using the Spotted Turtle Assessment Protocol. Spotted turtles were captured in eight of those sites, resulting in a total of 107 unique individuals. Additionally, 89 unique blood samples were obtained for DNA analysis, however at only two sites did we meet the desired minimum threshold of 20 samples.
In 2018, the Northeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (NEAFWA) initiated a five-year project through the Northeast Fish and Wildlife Diversity Technical Committee (NEFWDTC) and the Regional Conservation Needs Grant Program to improve habitat management of Barrens in the Northeastern U.S.
- Establishment of a regional network of experimental adaptive management sites where coordinated management and monitoring will lead to management improvements over time (e.g.
- Introduction - Northeast Regional Conservation Synthesis for 2025 State Wildlife Action Plans
- Chapter 1 - Regional Species of Greatest Conservation need in the Northeast, Northeast Regional Conservation Synthesis for 2025 State Wildlife Action Plans
- Chapter 2 - Habitats of the Northeast, Northeast Regional Conservation Synthesis for 2025 State Wildlife Action Plans
- Chapter 3 - Threats to Northeast Habitat and Species, Northeast Regional Conservation Synthesis for 2025 State Wildlife Action Plans
- Chapter 4 - Regional Conservation Actions, Northeast Regional Conservation Synthesis for 2025 State Wildlife Action Plans
- Chapter 5 - Monitoring, Northeast Regional Conservation Synthesis for 2025 State Wildlife Action Plans
- Chapter 6 - Review, Northeast Regional Conservation Synthesis for 2025 State Wildlife Action Plans
- Chapter 7 - Partners, Northeast Regional Conservation Synthesis for 2025 State Wildlife Action Plans
- Chapter 8 - Public Engagement, Northeast Regional Conservation Synthesis for 2025 State Wildlife Action Plans
- Appendices - Northeast Regional Conservation Synthesis for 2025 State Wildlife Action Plans
- Supplementary Information - Northeast Regional Conservation Synthesis for 2025 State Wildlife Action Plans
- Northeast Regional Conservation Synthesis for 2025 State Wildlife Action Plans - Full Report
Even before the widespread incidence and threats of White-nose syndrome (WNS) were known, human disturbance to bats while they hibernate has been a well-documented threat in the Northeast. Many of the pre-WNS conservation efforts focused on better protection of critical winter habitat for bats, which can include caves, abandoned mines, sinkholes, aqueducts and other locations natural or man-made where bats overwinter. Management actions can improve the structures for bats while preventing human disturbance.
- New Jersey Bat Cave Gating
- Connecticut - Proposed Bat Gate Projects and Preliminary Budget
- New Hampshire Bat Hibernaculum Protection
- Pennsylvania - Gating and Temperature Improvement Projects at Bat Hibernacula - Part 1
- Pennsylvania - Gating and Temperature Improvement Projects at Bat Hibernacula - Part 2
This study uses genetic data to identify genetic diversity across the study area (Maine to Virginia), to identify the number of populations in the study area and determine the success of genetic assignment of individuals to sites of origin. Tissue samples were collected as blood, tail tips, toenails and shell shavings or scutes from 1,895 Wood Turtles. Tissue samples were genotyped at 16 microsatellite markers for 1,244 individuals. Genetic data were analyzed for genetic diversity, genetic clustering, full siblings, and genetic assignment.
Since 2010, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has received numerous listing petitions for potentially imperiled species. More than 25% of the species on the complete list occur in at least one state of the Northeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (NEAFWA). Many of these species have been included as Species of Greatest Conservation Need in one or more Wildlife Action Plans developed by NEAFWA state members.
The timber rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) was historically widespread throughout eastern North America but now persist in four New England states in small, isolated populations.
This project is a synthesis of the growing volumes of regional conservation data and information produced through the Regional Conservation Needs (RCN) program and Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs). This synthesis will provide the regional context for the elements that states must review and revise in their State Wildlife Action Plans (SWAPs) by 2015.
Fourteen species of wetland-inhabiting butterfly species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) status were surveyed in 2016 and 2017 at multiple sites across four states - Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Survey data was used to evaluate the status of each species in all states where they occurred as well as refine the distribution data for each species across the region. All data points were mapped in ArcGIS and used to model species distribution in terms of both habitat and climate.
- Conservation and Management of Rare Wetland Butterflies: Strategies for Monitoring, Modeling and Wetland Enhancement in the Mid-Atlantic Region
- Appendix J - Butterfly Species Distribution Model Metadata
- Appendix K - Maxent model for Anatrytone_logan
- Appendix L - Habitat Management for Pollinators, Pennsylvania Guide
- Appendix M - Life History Guide to 14 Rare Wetland Butterflies in the Mid-Atlantic
Dam removal and fish passage projects are a critical component of anadromous alewife restoration, reconnecting runs to prime spawning habitat in coastal lakes. However, landlocked alewife populations have become established in many coastal New England lakes. The effects of landlocked alewives on anadromous alewife restoration are currently unknown. We investigated the effects of landlocked alewife presence on anadromous alewife restoration in Rogers Lake, which once hosted one of the largest anadromous alewife runs in Connecticut.
The relationships between woodrat population dynamics and abiotic forest conditions and biotic pathogen loads have been speculated, but there have been few long-term studies to address these speculations. Our two-tiered study that will: Objective 1. Determine interactions between woodrat populations and forest dynamics using dendrochronology, mast production data, and inventories; Objective 2.
To accomplish the project objective of collaboratively developing clear conservation goals and strategies for action in the northeast region this proposal outlines three major components:
In support of State Fish and Wildlife Agencies identifying regional priorities through access to 14 Northeast (NE) State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP) data
The objectives of this project were to:
Although the hellbender has been identified as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need by the Northeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, there remain substantial data gaps in its distribution. The common mudpuppy shares a significant portion of its habitat with the hellbender, and has been identified as a Species of High Conservation Concern by the Northeast Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation.
The recent discovery of a cryptic species of leopard frog in the Northeast means that nine states (CT, DE, MA, MD, NJ, NY, PA, RI, VA) may have to redefine their faunal checklists and/or lists of Species of Greatest Conservation Need.
We propose the development of a regional, landscape level, multi-partner conservation strategy/plan that focuses on the conservation, management, and protection of the northern diamondback terrapin and its habitat in eight states of the Northeast/mid-Atlantic regions (Massachusetts to Virginia). The overarching goal of this proposal is a conservation strategy/plan that will help achieve long-term sustainability of the northern diamondback terrapin population in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic regions.
Historically, the Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) occurred in all six New England states. The species is now extirpated from Maine and Rhode Island, and is close to extirpation in New Hampshire and Vermont with only one and two remaining populations, respectively. Since 2009, Timber Rattlesnakes from separate populations in eastern, central and western Massachusetts have been found to have significant disease identified as fungal dermatitis.
Emerging infectious diseases are one of the most important factors contributing to global amphibian declines and have been implicated in local extinctions of several species. Amphibian declines due to the Chytrid fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), have received considerable and well-deserved attention over the last decade. However, reports of significant mortality due to outbreaks of Ranavirus (Family Iridoviridae) are becoming increasingly common in the U.S. with the reported number of die-offs 3-4X greater than for Bd.
Brook floaters have declined rapidly throughout their range due to habitat loss, stream fragmentation, loss of riparian vegetation buffers, upstream land degradation, pollution, altered flow regimes, extreme spring floods, and summer droughts. While the northeast holds the largest brook floater populations range wide, our long-term research shows populations once large and robust have either declined by 50 to 95% or are gone completely. We are apprehensive that most populations are facing the same fate, but trends are often undetected because of the lack of long-term monitoring.
Background and Need
The Northeast Region has a long and productive history of collaboration and coordination for the protection and management of natural resources. This partnership has been enhanced in recent years through the teamwork of the Northeast Fish & Wildlife Diversity Technical Committee, the RCN program and the LCCs (e.g., North Atlantic and Appalachian). States have collectively contributed nearly $1.4M to completed regional projects since the inception of the RCN program, and have committed an additional $1.6M to RCN projects in-progress.
- Northeast Regional Wildlife Conservation Project Summaries
- Lexicon Change Log updated December 31 2014
- Reference document for the Lexicon
- Crosswalk between IUCN and TRACS Threat and Action Classification System updated May 2015
- The Northeast Lexicon updated May 2015
- Northeast Regional Conservation Synthesis updated September 2015
- Synthesis Change Log updated September 2015
- The Northeast Lexicon Report updated November 2016
- Action and Threat Lexicon updated November 2016
The objective of this report is to ensure good understanding and widespread use of the Northeast Terrestrial and Aquatic Habitat maps.
We will conduct the first Region-wide conservation assessment for an invertebrate taxon: the order Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies). Over 230 species occupy a wide range of forested lentic and lotic habitats in the northeast region and this project will follow a procedure similar to assessments already conducted in the northeast for certain vertebrate taxa (e.g., birds, reptiles and amphibians). It includes measures of regional responsibility, conservation concern, and vulnerability in a matrix format that can be used to prioritize species and conservation actions.
The eastern Black Rail (Laterallus jamaicensis jamaicensis )is the most endangered bird in the Northeast region of the U.S.
We will employ the Ecological Limits of Hydrologic Alteration (ELOHA) framework in the Great Lakes drainage of New York and Pennsylvania to develop an objective, spatially explicit process for evaluating the ecological impacts of new withdrawals of water from the tributaries of Lakes Erie, Ontario, and the upper St.
This project will determine state level responsibility for the conservation of tidal marsh bird species and provide the baseline for long-term monitoring of the entire tidal marsh bird community along the Atlantic coastline from Virginia to Maine (Bird Conservation Region 30). This unique biological community is important on a global scale, is under imminent threat of loss or severe degradation, and its unique characteristics present management challenges necessitating large-scale, collaborative conservation action.
Hibernating bats in the NE USA have experienced sudden and dramatic declines over the past three winters due to an emerging infectious disease dubbed “White Nose Syndrome” (WNS). As of January, 2012, new estimates of the number of bats that have died thus far range from 5.7 to 7.7 million, and the causative agent is now known to be the cold-loving fungus Geomyces destructans (Gd). This proposal aims to address these declines by developing and implementing methodologies to combat WNS, which was specifically referenced in the call for proposals.
This project will produce the first regional analysis of frog call survey data from the North American Amphibian Monitoring Program (NAAMP). Eleven years (2001-2011) of survey data from the NAAMP will be used to provide a regional trend assessment and associated analytical methods for amphibians in the northeast. NAAMP is a collaborative effort among USGS, State Agencies, and other partners, to monitor calling amphibians using a standard, peer-reviewed protocol.
In a project extending from Maine to the Virginias, the Northeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (NEAFWA), Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences (Manomet), and the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) are collaborating with other major northeastern stakeholders, including federal agencies and nonprofit organizations, to protect fish and wildlife and their habitats from climate change.
This project developed new noninvasive tools for monitoring the status and effectiveness of conservation actions for the New England cottontail, a Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) in several northeastern State Wildlife Action Plans. This project addresses RCN Priority 6: Development of Regional Indicators & Measures.
The major goals of this project were to integrate conservation information on Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) and their habitats with land use planning decisions.
Resilience concerns the ability of a living system to adjust to climate change, to moderate potential damages, to take advantage of opportunities, or to cope with consequences, in short: its capacity to adapt. In this project, we aimed to identify the most resilient examples of key geophysical settings (sand plains, granitic mountains, limestone valleys, etc.), in relation to species of greatest conservation need, to provide conservationists with a nuanced picture of the places where conservation is most likely to succeed under climate change.
This project, in collaboration with another RCN Project, Conservation Status of Fish, Wildlife and Natural Habitats in the Northeast Landscape, reported on the status of approximately 30 key indicators and measures specific to eight habitats and two regional species groups in the northeast. The final report, provided below, will help the Northeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (NEAFWA) states broadly assess the status of key habitats and Species of Greatest Conservation Need.
This project enhanced the conservation status and increased awareness of shrubland habitat-dependent Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) in Northeast Region, with a focus on the Appalachian Mountains. State Wildlife Action Plans in VA, MD, WV, PA and NY collectively identify 87 Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) that are dependent upon shrubland habitats in Bird Conservation Region 28 – Appalachian Mountains. Within the 87 shrubland dependent SGCN, there are 40 birds, 16 mammals, 16 amphibians/reptiles and 15 invertebrates identified. Shrubland habitats in BCR 28 hav
- Final Report - Implementing Bird Action Plans for Shrubland Dependents in the Northeast
- Implementing the American Woodcock Conservation Plan - Progress to date
- American Woodcock Habitat: Best Management Practices for the Central Appalachian Mountains Region
- Under Cover: Wildlife of Shrublands and Young Forest
The Regional Monitoring and Performance Reporting Framework is a collaborative effort of Northeastern states, federal land management agencies, non-governmental organizations and academics. The Framework was designed to help Northeastern states meet the monitoring and performance reporting requirements of State Wildlife Action Plans (SWAPs).
State fisheries and wildlife agencies need a consistent habitat classification system to build current, digital habitat maps to effectively implement State Wildlife Action Plans that help protect wildlife and their habitats. In response to this growing need, the Northeast Terrestrial Wildlife Habitat Classification System (NETWHCS) was developed with financial support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
State fisheries and wildlife agencies need a consistent aquatic habitat classification system to build current digital habitat maps to effectively implement State Wildlife Action Plans that help protect wildlife and their habitats. In response to this growing need, the Northeast Aquatic Habitat Classification System (NEAHCS) was developed with financial support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
Exotic invasive species pose a significant threat to species of greatest conservation need (SGCN) throughout the Northeast in a number of ways. Impacts may be direct (affecting individual health or productivity) or indirect (affecting habitat and/or ecosystem processes) or both. State wildlife action plans (SWAP) have identified wildlife species within each state that warrant some level of management concern. Causes for concern vary by species and typically loss of habitat, pollution, and other stressors are listed as contributors to population decreases.
Funds from this RCN grant were used to demonstrate that bats affected with the infectious disease “White Nose Syndrome” (WNS) arouse from hibernation significantly more often than healthy bats, which leads to their starvation. This highly significant effect is independent of initial body condition and hibernacula microclimate, which are both known to influence hibernation patterns.
This project outlined the costs and benefits that biomass energy systems pose for Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) in the Northeast Region. Wildlife biologists can use this information to recognize opportunities certain biomass energy applications present for managing SGCN and provide an impetus to work with biomass developers for mutual benefit. For example, some biomass energy systems have the potential to provide components of habitat favorable to early successional SGCN. In nearly all 13 states, early successional species are included in the list of SGCN but the tools av
With the completion of this project, Northeast regional monitoring procedures are now available for birds of grasslands, tidal marshes and mountain forests - habitats that span the northeastern landscape, contain a high percentage of vulnerable species, and encompass the region’s major management issues. These coordinated bird monitoring programs can effectively measure threats and management effects at the regional level to target birds and habitats identified by State Wildlife Action Plans as those in greatest need of conservation.
To encourage conservation and cooperation among states, this project synthesized data from multiple sources to reveal ecological patterns and the current condition of species and habitats in the Northeastern region. We summarized the regional conservation status of each key habitat and species target by overlaying information on the location and condition of the target with information on conservation land ownership and management.
Work from this project allows users to identify a stream reach of interest in the Connecticut River basin and obtain estimated continuous daily, unregulated or “natural” streamflow at the selected location. The application spans the entire Connecticut River basin, including the states of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. This work expands on a method developed for Massachusetts to estimate daily streamflows at ungaged locations.
The fragmentation of river habitats through dams and poorly designed culverts is one of the primary threats to aquatic species in the United States (Collier et al, 1997; Graf, 1999). The impact of fragmentation on aquatic species generally involves loss of access to quality habitat for one or more life stages of a species. For example, dams and impassable culverts limit the ability of anadromous fish species to reach preferred freshwater spawning habitats from the sea and prevent brook trout populations from reaching thermal refuges. The Northeastern U.S.