Endangered and Threatened Species and Species of Special Concern

Shown above: Regal Fritillary, Speyeria idalia, Marion County, Iowa

Threatened and Endangered Species assessments require familiarity with the species in question so that correct identifications are made, established methods of evaluation of potential habitat, and proper reporting to the correct federal and/or state agency. The discovery of potential habitat, such as for the Indiana and Northern Long-Eared Bats in Iowa, necessitates remedies to assure that any land alterations allow for these rare bat species to continue their life cycles.

The federal Endangered Species Act requires protection of species listed as Endangered (the most critical status), Threatened, or of Special Concern. The successful recovery of Bald Eagles in the Upper Midwest is a testimony to the value of these regulations. State laws usually include much longer lists of animal and plant species, in part because state biologists have had more time and regional expertise to evaluate the status of these species.

In the meantime, other species continue to decline for several reasons. One of the biggest factors is loss of good habitat as more of the land surface is turned to human uses. Monarch butterfly populations are well under a tenth of their numbers a few decades ago, as agricultural practices put marginal lands into production and kill the host milkweeds. In the past hundred years, the numbers of most waterfowl species have dropped precipitously, and federal laws have attempted to correct that decline with permanently protected Waterfowl Production Areas.

Leeward Solutions conducts assessments for bat habitat, T&E bird species, and T&E plants in Iowa and adjacent states. Assessments nearly always require field site visits in order to document the potential habitats and identify the animal and/or plant species. Also, we have expertise in conducting amphibian surveys in areas that are likely to have protected frog and toad species.

While entire ecosystems aren't subject to protections in the way that individual species are, many ecosystems in the Upper Midwest are in fact rare. These include several types of prairie, savannahs, wetland fringes and shallow to deep wetlands, and woodlands.