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NATURAL HERITAGE

Definitions of Abbreviations used on Natural Heritage Resource Lists

The following ranks are used by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation to set protection priorities for natural heritage resources. Natural Heritage Resources, or "NHR's," are rare plant and animal species, rare and exemplary natural communities, and significant geologic features. The criterion for ranking NHR's is the number of populations or occurrences, i.e. the number of known distinct localities; the number of individuals in existence at each locality or, if a highly mobile organism (e.g., sea turtles, many birds, and butterflies), the total number of individuals; the quality of the occurrences, the number of protected occurrences; and threats.

  • S1 - Critically imperiled in the state because of extreme rarity or because of some factor(s) making it especially vulnerable to extirpation from the state. Typically 5 or fewer populations or occurrences; or very few remaining individuals (<1000).
  • S2 - Imperiled in the state because of rarity or because of some factor(s) making it very vulnerable to extirpation from the state. Typically 6 to 20 populations or occurrences or few remaining individuals (1,000 to 3,000).
  • S3 - Vulnerable in the state either because rare and uncommon, or found only in a restricted range (even if abundant at some locations), or because of other factors making it vulnerable to extirpation. Typically 21 to 100 populations or occurrences (1,000 to 3,000).
  • S4 - Apparently secure; Uncommon but not rare, and usually widespread in the state. Possible cause of long-term concern. Usually>100 populations or occurrences and more than 10,000 individuals.
  • S5 - Secure; Common, widespread and abundant in the state. Essentially ineradicable under present conditions. Typically with considerably more than 100 populations or occurrences and more than 10,000 individuals.
  • S#B - Breeding status of an animal within the state
  • S#N - Non-breeding status of animal within the state. Usually applied to winter resident species.
  • S#? - Inexact or uncertain numeric rank.
  • SH - Possibly extirpated (Historical). Historically known from the state, but not verified for an extended period, usually > 15 years; this rank is used primarily when inventory has been attempted recently.
  • S#S#- Range rank; A numeric range rank, (e.g. S2S3) is used to indicate the range of uncertainty about the exact status of the element. Ranges cannot skip more than one rank.
  • SU - Unrankable; Currently unrankable due to lack of information or due to substantially conflicting information about status or trends.
  • SNR- Unranked; state rank not yet assessed.
  • SX - Presumed extirpated from the state. Not located despite intensive searches of historical sites and other appropriate habitat, and virtually no likelihood that it will be rediscovered.
  • SNA- A conservation status rank is not applicable because the element is not a suitable target for conservation activities.

Global Ranks are similar, but refer to a species' rarity throughout its total range. Global ranks are denoted with a "G" followedby a character. Note GX means the element is presumed extinct throughout its range, not relocated despite intensive searches of historical sites/appropriate habitat, and virtually no likelihood that it will be rediscovered. A "Q" in a rank indicates that a taxonomic question concerning that species exists. Ranks for subspecies are denoted with a "T". The global and state ranks combined (e.g. G2/S1) give an instant grasp of a species' known rarity.

These ranks should not be interpreted as legal designations.


FEDERAL STATUS

The Division of Natural Heritage uses the standard abbreviations for Federal endangerment developed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Endangered Species and Habitat Conservation.
LE - Listed Endangered LT - Listed Threatened PE - Proposed Endangered PT - Proposed Threatened
C - Candidate (formerly C1 - Candidate category 1) E(S/A) - treat as endangered because of similarity of appearance T(S/A) - treat as threatened because of similarity of appearance SOC - Species of Concern species that merit special concern (not a regulatory category)

STATE LEGAL STATUS

The Division of Natural Heritage uses similar abbreviations for State endangerment:
LE - Listed Endangered PE - Proposed Endangered SC - Special Concern - animals that merit special concern according to VDGIF (not a regulatory category)
LT - Listed Threatened PT - Proposed Threatened C - Candidate

For information on the laws pertaining to threatened or endangered species, please contact:

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for all FEDERALLY listed species;
  • Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Plant Protection Bureau for STATE listed plants and insects
  • Department of Game and Inland Fisheries for all other STATE listed animals

CONSERVATION SITES RANKING


Brank is a rating of the significance of the conservation site based on presence and number of natural heritage resources; on a scale of 1-5, 1 being most significant. Sites are also coded to reflect the presence/absence of federally/state listed species:

Conservation Site Ranks
Legal Status of Sites
B1 - Outstanding significance FL - Federally listed species present
B2 - Very High significance SL - State listed species present
B3 - High significance NL - No listed species present
B4 - Moderate significance  
B5 - Of general Biodiversity significance