In the United States, many resources devoted to conservation are routed through states, but animal and plant populations do not conform to state boundaries. Consequently, neighboring states can enhance their collective conservation impact by coordinating natural resources management. In order to support managers as they review and revise state Wildlife Action Plans in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin, this project identified regional conservation priorities for streams and grasslands of the Upper Midwest.
Specifically, we (1) selected stream and grassland species of common conservation interest to partnering states, (2) modeled and mapped regional distributions of these species, and (3) used predicted species occurrences to identify regional conservation focal areas. We focused on 31 native grassland and stream species: eight birds, 10 freshwater mussels, 12 fish, and one salamander. The birds, mussels, salamander, and one fish were listed as Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCNs) by at least two participating states. The remaining 11 fish were reproductive hosts for the selected freshwater mussels. With the help of state Departments of Natural Resources, Natural Heritage programs, and other project partners, we compiled comprehensive occurrence data for all 31 species and compiled environmental data for streams and grasslands across the Upper Midwest.