Tell Me More About Rare and Endangered Animals and Plants

Disclaimer : The locations displayed in this data layer are not the only places in New York with rare animals or rare plants; they are only the places we know about and have documented in the New York Natural Heritage Program’s Biodiversity Databases. Not all of New York State has been surveyed, so if your area of interest shows no locations of rare animals or rare plants, we can’t definitively say there are no rare plants or animals there; all we can say is that NY Natural Heritage has no information about that area.

The locations shown in the layer Rare Plants and Rare Animals are not precise locations. Rather, they show those generalized areas where NY Natural Heritage has information in its databases regarding rare animals and/or rare plants. These generalized areas show the vicinity of actual, confirmed observations and collections of rare animals and rare plants. The precise locations, as well as the name of the animal or plant, are not displayed because some animals and plants can be harmed or disturbed by human activity.

The layer Rare Plants and Rare Animals includes generalized locations of species that are rare in New York State as a whole. These species include:

Animals and plants listed under New York State regulations as Endangered, Threatened, Special Concern, and Rare are protected under New York State law. Unlisted species, while not under the same level of regulatory protection as listed species, are ranked by NY Natural Heritage as rare in New York State , and therefore are a vulnerable natural resource of conservation concern.

Rare Animals: Displays areas of New York State for which NY Natural Heritage has recent information on animals that are rare in New York, including those listed as Endangered and Threatened by NYS. For most animals, recent means last observed and documented since 1970; for some animals, locations last confirmed between 1950 and 1970 are also included. This layer also includes some locations with significant concentrations of more common animals, such as colonial nesting areas; and a few locations of habitats that have the potential for supporting rare animals.

Rare Plants: Displays areas of New York State for which NY Natural Heritage has recent information on plants that are rare in New York, including those listed as Endangered and Threatened by NYS . For plants, recent means last observed and documented since 1980. This layer also includes a few locations of habitats that have the potential for supporting rare plants.


Old and Potential Records: In addition to the areas displayed in the Rare Plants and Rare Animals layer, this application also provides information on Old and Potential Records. When you click on a location with the Identify tool, the results include rare animals that were last observed or documented in the vicinity before 1970, and rare plants that were last observed and documented before 1980, and have not been seen there since. The records upon which these “historical” locations are based go back to the 1800’s, and for many of them we do not know the precise locations where the rare animal or plant was observed; often we know only the general area, such as in which town a specimen was collected. Old and Potential Records also include a few recent records where the location of the plant or animal is very vague. For these historical and imprecise records, it is not known whether the rare plant or animal still exists at these locations, and/or it is not known precisely where the rare plant or animal was located when it was last observed. However, the rare plant or animal may still occur in the area if habitat and site conditions are favorable. Because of the age and geographic imprecision of these Old and Potential Records, the results of the Identify tool also provide the name of the plant or animal, the date it was last observed, its listing status in New York, and a brief description of the location and habitat. Also included in this Old and Potential Records layer are a few significant natural communities known only from historical records or whose precise locations are not known; concentration areas of anadromous fish, such as alewives and herring, in the tidal Hudson River; and concentration areas of wintering waterfowl in large lakes and rivers and in coastal areas of New York State.

In addition to the areas in the above layers, there are other types of areas important for biodiversity which are not included in this application, such as riparian corridors, large forest blocks, concentrations of more common plants and animals, and areas with local significance.

The sources of the records of rare plants and animals in NY Natural Heritage’s Biodiversity Databases are data and maps from field surveys (by Heritage staff, NYS DEC staff, private conservation groups, scientific researchers, and others), museum specimens, project reports, contributions from interested parties, and other secondary sources. These records are compiled by NY Natural Heritage. The information is not necessarily the result of comprehensive or site-specific field investigations; in some cases locations have been derived from literature or museum searches or historic records.

More detailed information about some of the rare animals and plants in New York, including biology, identification, habitat, distribution, conservation, and management, are available in NY Natural Heritage’s Conservation Guides (animals and plants), NYSDEC’s Endangered Species fact sheets (animals), and in the USDA’s Plants Database (plants).

For a list of animals that are rare in New York and are included in NY Natural Heritage’s Biodiversity Databases, go to NY Natural Heritage’s Rare Animal page and click on Rare Animal List.

For a list of plants that are rare in New York and are included in NY Natural Heritage’s Biodiversity Databases, go to NY Natural Heritage’s Rare Plants page and click on 2006 New York Rare Plant Status Lists.

For a list of the animals listed by the State of New York as Endangered, Threatened, or Special Concern under authority of Article 11 of Environmental Conservation Law, go to the Endangered Species unit page. To read New York State’s regulations regarding Endangered and Threatened species, and Species of Special Concern, go to the NYS Codes and Regulations website.

For a list of plants listed by the State of New York as Endangered, Threatened, or Rare under authority of Article 9 of Environmental Conservation Law, and to read New York State’s regulations regarding protected native plants, go to the NYS Codes and Regulations website.

To continue building a comprehensive, up-to-date database of information on the locations of rare species in New York State , we welcome your contributions. If you have information on a rare animal or a rare plant, please fill out the Rare Species Reporting Form which can opened at the Contribute Data page and submitted electronically to the NY Natural Heritage Program.

If there is NOT a proposed action or project, and you have a question regarding the areas shown in the Rare Plants and Rare Animals and Significant Natural Communities data layers:
Please contact the New York Natural Heritage Program
625 Broadway, Albany , NY 12233-4757
NaturalHeritage@dec.ny.gov