Conservation Science

Protecting Pennsylvania's Plants and Animals

Species at Risk

Help us protect species at risk.

Pennsylvania’s more than 25,000 native species face many challenges. In the past century, we have seen diseases like chestnut blight and Dutch elm disease sweep through our forests – and new diseases continue to arrive. Invasive species are outcompeting native plants and animals, particularly those that depend on habitats where competition is normally low.

Loss of habitat due to development of housing, agriculture, energy and infrastructure continues to have the biggest impact on species decline. On top of all that, climate change will likely usher in broad-scale habitat changes that will affect our species in ways we cannot fully predict.

The good news is that the majority of Pennsylvania’s native species are not in any immediate danger of decline or extinction. However, certain groups of species - like freshwater mussels, amphibians and reptiles, and cave dwelling bats - are much more vulnerable and are showing significant declines across their ranges. Research, management and direct protection of known populations and habitats are all important aspects of our work to conserve the most at-risk species.

Bats

A fungal disease, known as white nose syndrome, has drastically reduced many of Pennsylvania’s native bat populations.

Eastern Hellbender

This large salamander can only thrive in pristine waters, making it sensitive to changes in water quality.

Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake

Endangered in Pennsylvania, this critically imperiled species is a vital part of the state’s ecosystem.

Freshwater Mussels

Freshwater mussel populations have declined in streams and rivers throughout Pennsylvania.

Forest Interior Birds

The loss of essential forest habitats due to land development affect nearly 40 species of birds in Pennsylvania.

Northeastern Bulrush

A member of the sedge family, this species is one of only three plant species in Pennsylvania listed as federally endangered.

Wetland Butterflies

In partnership with several states, WPC is monitoring 14 species of concern that rely on wetland habitats.