Conservation Science

Protecting Pennsylvania’s Plants and Animals

 The success of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy’s conservation work relies on the collaboration and coordination of data, planning and projects among a variety of Conservancy programs. WPC’s conservation science program takes important data on the state’s biodiversity and helps apply it to land protection, watershed restoration, land stewardship planning and policy development.

Our science staff works to document many of the state’s species and natural communities, especially those that are rare and endangered. Our research gives us insight into the biodiversity of Pennsylvania and we share information with institutions, agencies and the public. This work helps to guide conservation throughout the state and within the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.

Science and Research

Our science team collects information about plants, animals and habitats across the state.

Species at Risk in Pennsylvania

Native plants and animals are vulnerable to ecological threats. These species are just a few currently at risk in our region.

Special Places

Unique habitats and natural communities in Pennsylvania are home to some of our rarest plants and animals.

Invasive and Unwelcome Species

Plant and animal species that are not native to Pennsylvania cause harm to the environment, economy and human health.

Challenges in a Changing Landscape

Changes to the natural landscape of our state create challenges for biodiversity conservation.

Our Impact

Bog copper, wetland butterfly

The biodiversity of Pennsylvania is estimated to include over 25,000 kinds of living creatures. Keeping track of these species is an immense task, not to mention understanding which require conservation attention.

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Why It Matters

Liatris scariosa
Woodrat survey

Our scientific understanding of Pennsylvania’s natural world helps us prioritize conservation projects and maximize the impact of our work throughout the region. The Conservancy uses this information to directly protect biodiversity by buying or easing land. We also work closely with other organizations, state agencies and partners who use our information to guide their efforts to conserve species and habitats across the state.  

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What's New

Vernal Pool in Pike County
  • Vernal pools are unique seasonal wetlands and landowners can help us protect these important natural communities. We are seeking landowners with vernal pools on their property who wish to learn how to manage and conserve these special habitats. Contact JoAnn Albert or Betsy Leppo now to schedule a site visit in spring of 2020.
  • Stay up-to-date with all natural heritage news by signing up for the quarterly Wild Heritage Newsletter.
  • Learn how to record your findings of invasive plants, insects and animals using iMapInvasives. Find more information is on the PA iMapInvasives website Events page.

Each field season, our science staff documents hundreds of plants, animals and natural communities across the state. As we collect this data, we sometimes find new discoveries, such as new or returning native species. Stay tuned as we share these exciting discoveries with you!

Get Involved

EYE Con students

We want to share what we’ve discovered through conservation science. There are several ways for you to get involved, whether you’re interested in volunteer opportunities, citizen science or continuing education.

  • Nature provides the best classroom.  High school students can earn two college credits during our summer science institute. EYE Con provides students with fun, unique experiences in field biology, and introduces students to post-secondary opportunities in resource conservation.
  • The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy is a partner of the Allegheny Bird Conservation Alliance and BirdSafe Pittsburgh. Learn more about bird conservation efforts in Allegheny County.
  • Help us track invasive and unwelcome species in Pennsylvania. Become a citizen scientist and report your sightings of invasive species to iMapinvasives, an online database used to track and report invasive species in the state. Register for a free account to begin submitting your observations today. Not sure what species are considered invasive? Check out our Gallery of Invaders on the Pennsylvania iMapInvasives website to learn more