An Official Website of the Commonwealth of Kentucky
Kentucky's Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy. 2013. Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, #1 Sportsman's Lane, Frankfort, Kentucky 40601. http://fw.ky.gov/WAP/Pages/Default.aspx (Date updated 2/5/2013).
The completion of this document is the culmination of the first step in a process that started over two decades ago when Congress recognized the need for planning and conservation funding for non-game wildlife. While no funds were ever appropriated for the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act of 1980, the seed was planted to set the stage for this vital third leg of conservation funding (the other two being the Pittman-Robertson Act of 1937, and the Dingell-Johnson Act of 1950).
In 1994, the Teaming With Wildlife coalition carried the torch for non-game funding, and within 4 years had grown to more than 3000 member organizations. The Teaming With Wildlife approach was the first significant push to fund non-game conservation with an excise tax similar to Pittman-Robertson. While the coalition failed in its attempt to secure an excise tax on outdoor-related sporting equipment, their persistence and the importance of the issue ultimately gained funding from the Wildlife Conservation and Restoration Program (WCRP) and ultimately the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants (STWG) program.
The STWG program provides annual appropriations to the state wildlife agencies for the management, protection, and conservation of imperiled species and has resulted in more than $340 million in conservation funding since its inception in 2000. The program also mandates the development of a Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy (State Wildlife Action Plan) for each state and U.S. territory.
President Theodore Roosevelt stated at a Progressive National Convention in 1912 that “there can be no greater issue than that of conservation in this country.” Not much has happened in the past 90+ years to alter that belief. Increasing human populations, uncontrolled urban sprawl, invasive exotics, pollution, and disease continue to take their toll on the wildlife resources of the Commonwealth and throughout the nation. Today in Kentucky, we lose more than 47,000 acres per year to development alone. A lack of planning by professionals on how to conserve the special places and the special creatures under our protection will continue to result in a loss of species diversity.
This action plan is Kentucky’s roadmap for sustaining fish and wildlife diversity, but it is not a panacea. By itself, it is simply pages, pictures, maps, and words. However, in the hands of united fish and wildlife professionals, it will become a powerful motivating force for change. The 56 plans developed by the states and territories are a testament to the struggles and determination of the individuals in the fish and wildlife profession for which failure is not an option. These plans, and the collective thoughts and passions of their authors, will help in our battle for additional funding, and ultimately, for the conservation of all species.
The road to success will be difficult. There will be obstacles, but the dedication of our professionals will overcome them. Ultimately, we will succeed, because we cannot afford the alternative.
In closing, Theodore Roosevelt once stated that “Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take ranks with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.” The professionals that constructed this plan struggled. They struggled for all the reasons that people struggle when put to a monumental task. As Roosevelt pointed out, they are better people for having made the effort, which is reflected in their work product. We have taken the first step, and it is in the right direction. There are many more to follow if we are to remain vigilant in the conservation of the fish and wildlife resources that we hold in trust for the public. It is far better to dare mighty things, so we must continue with our journey.
Jonathan Gassett, Ph.D.
Ky. Dept of Fish and Wildlife Resources
The Kentucky Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy (CWCS, also referred to as the “Plan”) was developed in order to identify and conserve Kentucky’s Species of Greatest Conservation Need and to comply with the requirements of the congressionally authorized State and Tribal Wildlife Grants (STWG) Program. This document represents a proactive plan for sustaining the diversity of species and habitats found in Kentucky. The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR) acted as the lead agency in this effort but many partners provided crucial input. The general public was also invited to participate and provide input. This is not KDFWR’s plan, but rather a plan for Kentucky’s Species of Greatest Conservation Need, as well as for all interested Kentuckians.
This approach largely addresses species that have not traditionally had a dedicated funding source. Historically, the authority and responsibility for species management has been vested with the states. For over 60 years, state fish and wildlife agencies have worked, in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) under the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act and the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act to conserve and properly manage game species. Separate funding sources have also been established for species listed as Federally Threatened or Endangered. However, a reliable funding mechanism has not been established to adequately address other non-game species. This plan is a judicious effort to address the future of these species.
A total of 301 Species of Greatest Conservation Need were identified for Kentucky, representing species from 7 taxonomic groups: Bivalves, Fishes, Lampreys, Amphibians, Reptiles, Birds and Mammals. We mapped the ranges and known locations for each species and identified key habitats. We identified conservation issues and proposed prioritized actions to address those issues. Measures to monitor the status of species and their habitats were developed along with research and survey needs, ongoing efforts, and future plans. Priority Conservations Areas were identified where many of these species can be found in relatively small regions. Just as importantly, we proposed the framework for a system to monitor the overall effectiveness of this plan. We recognize our current efforts represent a starting point for conservation, not a conclusion. There is much to learn about Kentucky’s fish and wildlife species and their habitats, and we intend to adapt our approach as new information becomes available through the implementation of this plan.
The legislation that enabled states to begin developing their plans included 8 required elements. We purposefully organized this document around these 8 elements. A summary (Guide to the 8 Elements) has been developed to aid reviewers and other users in locating each element.
CWSC Steering Committee: Mark Cramer (Deputy Commissioner), Lynn Garrison (Public Affairs Division Director), Benjy Kinman (Fisheries Division Director), Dr. Jon Gassett (former Wildlife Division Director), Gerry Buynak (Fisheries Division Program Manager), Jim Axon (Fisheries Division Program Manager), Keith Wethington (KY Fish and Wildlife Information Systems Supervisor)
CWCS Primary Authors and Editors: Mark Cramer (Deputy Commissioner), Lynn Garrison (Public Affairs Division Director), Keith Wethington (KY Fish and Wildlife Information Systems Supervisor), Brian Smith (Wildlife Diversity Coordinator), Monte McGregor (Malacologist), John MacGregor (Herpetologist), Beth Ciuzio (Ornithologist), Shawchyi Vorisek (Ornithologist), Matt Thomas (Ichthyologist)
Database and GIS Staff: Daniel Vichitbandha (Database and GIS Specialist), Gary Sprandel (Database Specialist), Dave Frederick (Wildlife and Fisheries GIS Specialist)
KDFWR Technical Assistance: Jim Lane (Wildlife Division Director), Dan Figert (Wildlife Division Program Manager), David McChesney (Wildlife Division Program Manager), David Yancy (Wildlife Biologist), Traci Hemberger (Wildlife Biologist), Brad Pendley (Wildlife Biologist), Doug Stephens (Fisheries Biologist), Lew Kornman (Fisheries Biologist), Rob Rold (Fisheries Biologist)
KDFWR Support Staff: Don Bunnell (Fisheries Biologist), Adrienne Shoen (Graphic Artist), Amy Glass (Administrative Assistant)
Natural Resource Partners: Kentucky Division of Forestry, Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission, Kentucky Division of Water, National Park Service, U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U. S. Forest Service, Kentucky Chapter of The Nature Conservancy
This document represents a comprehensive review and major revision of Kentucky’s State Wildlife Action Plan, updated in January of 2013. Kentucky’s adaptive management of this document included utilization of an extensive public review process, and a comprehensive review of each of the 8 elements within the CWCS (See Section 1.1.3: Guide to the 8-Elements). KDFWR staff reviewed the entire plan, considered public input, and determined the most critical and time-sensitive needs for the major revision. Public input was and continues to be solicited via KDFWR’s website. KDFWR also directly contacted 30+ non-agency, species authorities asking for critical review of the entire SWAP; all comments received were addressed by KDFWR. Revision items spanned the addition of species (9 fish, 3 amphibian, and 13 bird), a taxonomic group (25 crayfish species), and conservation actions; a climate change section; and the revision of a terrestrial habitat guild. Kentucky’s next comprehensive review (and revision, if necessary) will occur within a 10 year interval of the approval of this comprehensive review and revision
We developed 4 volumes to address the 8 elements (Section 1.1.3). Volume I contains a “Guide to the 8-elements” section in order to make finding the mandated elements easier. Volume I also gives background information about Kentucky’s environment and addresses Element 7 (coordination) along with Element 8 (public participation).
Volume II contains background information about the wildlife of Kentucky, and details on the distribution of 301 Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) organized into 8 taxonomic classes (fish, lamprey, mussels, crayfish, amphibians, birds, mammals, and reptiles). All of Element 1 (distribution and abundance) and Element 2 (key habitats), along with portions of Element 3 (conservation issues) are addressed here. Volume II organizes the detailed information about population trends, habitat information, and occurrence into species accounts and species distribution maps.
Volume III examines conservation issues, conservation actions, and monitoring strategies for species and habitat guilds. All of Element 3 (conservation issues) and Element 4 (conservation actions) are addressed as well as significant portions of Element 5 (monitoring). A section on Adaptive Management explains how Kentucky will modify future versions of this Plan. Volume IV expands on Element 2 by identifying specific geographic areas that harbor many species of greatest conservation need (SGCN).
All tables, figures, and maps are located in an appendix. These components of the document were not inserted directly into the text. This approach reduced file size for delivery via the internet, and allowed the CD ROM, and hard copy versions to remain essentially the same.
The information is available either from our web site (http://fw.ky.gov/WAP/Pages/default.aspx), or on a CD-ROM (available from KDFWR, #1 Sportsman’s Lane, Frankfort, KY 40601). For the web site and CD-ROM, the opening page has links to the 4 volumes. Within the text of each volume there are links to tables and figures, which may be clicked on to view.
The overarching purpose of the Kentucky Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy (CWCS) is to provide strategies for sustaining Kentucky’s biodiversity and its contribution to national and global biodiversity. The first step in this process was identifying the 301 species of greatest conservation need (SGCN) to represent this biodiversity (Appendix 1.1 and Section 2.1.1. Species Selection Process). Our approach to addressing the remaining 7 elements builds upon this list. Developing this CWCS provided Kentucky with the opportunity to expand current stewardship practices to species and habitats not traditionally addressed by the KDFWR.
Federal laws and policies have placed the chief jurisdiction for wildlife conservation programs with the states. Historically, hunters and anglers were the primary funding source for fish and wildlife conservation in Kentucky and in the nation. That funding was mainly through two sources: revenue from the sale of fishing and hunting licenses and federal excise tax revenue from the sale of fishing and hunting equipment, apportioned back to states through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This system has been very effective at funding conservation of game species. Under a separate funding mechanism, conservation of federally endangered and threatened species has also been possible. However, a reliable funding mechanism has not been established to adequately address the approximate 80% of species that are not hunted, fished, endangered or threatened.
Beginning with the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act of 1937, Congress recognized the need for adequate funding for wildlife conservation. This Act, popularly know as the Pittman-Robertson Act, was approved by Congress on September 2, 1937. The purpose was to provide funding to the states for the selection, restoration, rehabilitation and improvement of wildlife habitat, wildlife management research, and the distribution of information produced by the projects. The Act was amended October 23, 1970, to include funding for hunter training programs and the development, operation and maintenance of public target ranges. Revenues collected from an 11 percent Federal excise tax on sporting arms, ammunition, and archery equipment, and a 10 percent tax on handguns fund the Wildlife Restoration program. Funds for hunter education and target ranges are derived from one-half of the tax on handguns and archery equipment. Kentucky’s apportionment for 2005 was $4,629,054. This comprises 12% of the Department’s total budget.
The Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act, commonly referred to as the Dingell-Johnson act, passed on August 9, 1950, and was modeled after the Pittman-Robertson Act to create a parallel program and source of funding for management, conservation, and restoration of fishery resources. Revenues collected from the manufacturers of fishing rods, reels, creels, lures, flies and artificial baits fund the Sport Fish Restoration program. An amendment in 1984 (Wallop-Breaux Amendment) added new provisions by extending the excise tax to previously untaxed items of sport fishing equipment. Kentucky’s Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration apportionment for 2005 was $4,312,000, or 11% of the Department’s total budget. In FY 2005, the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration accounts provided 23% of the Department’s total budget, while hunting and fishing licenses sales provided 55%.
These funding mechanisms have allowed state wildlife managers to implement successful management programs that recover or improve populations of game and sport fish species. Congress provided funding for threatened and endangered species through the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund (authorized under section 6 of the Endangered Species Act). These funds are used for a wide array of conservation projects for candidate, proposed and listed species.
Populations of many species that are not hunted, fished, threatened or endangered are declining. Efforts to recover endangered species are extremely expensive. Preventive actions that keep species from being listed under the ESA are the most effective way to assure the future of our fish and wildlife.
As a result of the efforts of the Teaming with Wildlife Coalition and others, Congress developed the State and Tribal Wildlife Grant Program that has provided funding for the past several years. This Program provides funding to every state, territory, and Indian Tribe to prevent wildlife from becoming endangered. It also continues the long history of cooperation between the federal government and the states for managing and conserving wildlife species.
In order to receive future federal funds through the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants program, Congress required each State and territory to develop a CWCS by October 1, 2005. Congress also included 8 essential elements that each state must address in their Plan. The 8 elements and associated sub-elements are listed in the following pages. We used the format provided by the National Advisory Acceptance Team to present this information. This section serves as a “road map” to locating relevant portions of the Plan that address each element and sub-element. Specific sections and/or appendices are listed under each element. The Plan was designed to work most efficiently in an electronic format (CD-ROM or Internet). In these versions hyperlinks are provided that automatically open the appendices or sections referenced. In the paper document we have included page numbers in place of hyperlinks. The physical size of this document makes finding the appropriate page somewhat cumbersome. We recommend readers use either the CD-ROM or Internet version to review this section. If hardcopy review is preferred, then readers should review Section 1.1 (How to Use this Document) in order to become familiar with the layout of this Plan.
Element Number 1. Information on the distribution and abundance of species of wildlife, including low and declining populations as the State fish and wildlife agency deems appropriate, that are indicative of the diversity and health of the State's wildlife.
Information about distribution and abundance is found in Volume II: Species Accounts.
A literature cited section is given for each taxonomic group within the species accounts. Data for mapping was from the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, Fish and Wildlife Information System and Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission Heritage database.
Information about abundance for each species is given within the Species Accounts. The G-Trend field indicates the population trend throughout that species range and Comment field gives additional information about population abundance. The S-Trend field indicates the population trend in Kentucky and the Comment field has notes about distribution. Distribution maps are provided for each species. Acquisition of additional distribution and abundance information was addressed under research and survey needs in Volume III.
Species accounts describe global and statewide trend with the G-Trend, S-Trend, G-Trend Comment, and S-trend Comment fields.
Our rationale for including and excluding groups of wildlife was explained within the Species Selection Process section. We recognize that future revisions of this CWCS will need to include groups of invertebrates not covered in this draft, especially land snails, and lepidopterans.
The species selection process was described within the introduction to Volume II. This section also describes input from outside agencies and species experts.
Element Number 2. Descriptions of locations and relative condition of key habitats and community types essential to conservation of species identified in the 1st element. The species accounts in Binder 2 describe the location and condition of species specific key habitats. Maps of priority conservation areas for each taxonomic class are included as appendices to Volume IV.
Existing habitat information is included in species accounts in the habitat, key habitat and life history fields. Key habitats are included with the guild accounts.
Plans to acquire new habitat information are described under priority monitoring needs.
Detailed site locations and conditions are described in the Species accounts. Landscape level Priority Conservation Areas are provided in Volume IV. Conservation actions can be derived from the species conservation issues.
Element Number 3. Descriptions of problems which may adversely affect species identified in the 1st element or their habitats, and priority research and survey efforts needed to identify factors which may assist in restoration and improved conservation of these species and habitats.
Conservation issues, conservation actions, and priority research and survey efforts were developed in Volume III. Conservation issues for each species are given within the species accounts.
The sources of information are cited within the text of each Species Account. These are listed in the literature cited section of each taxonomic class section in the Species Accounts.
Specific conservation issues were organized within broader threat types.
In addition to the identified threats and problems in 3-B, actions were developed that have unique applications, and included working with national and international partners.
Priority research and survey needs were specified for each taxonomic class and are sufficiently detailed to develop future projects.
Element Number 4. Descriptions of conservation actions determined to be necessary to conserve the identified species and habitats and priorities for implementing such actions.
Prioritized conservation actions were developed for each habitat guild.
Conservation issues (threats) were identified for each species and are listed in the species accounts. Potential conservation actions were developed to address each conservation issue. Conservation actions were prioritized for both aquatic and terrestrial habitat guilds.
Conservation actions were organized under objectives within the framework of habitat guilds. Performance measures were developed for each major objective.
The list of conservation actions includes programs addressed by other agencies (for example, Conservation Reserve Program) or where partnerships are appropriate.
The prioritized research and survey needs include many projects designed to identify future conservation actions.
Conservation actions are ranked within a habitat guild.
Element Number 5. Descriptions of the proposed plans for monitoring species identified in the 1st element and their habitats, for monitoring the effectiveness of the conservation actions proposed in the 4th element, and for adapting these conservation actions to respond appropriately to new information or changing conditions.
Monitoring of SGCN, their habitats, and this CWCS are covered in Volume III., Section 3.4 Monitoring and Adaptive Management.
The listed monitoring projects are described as either population monitoring or habitat monitoring.
Conservation actions may be monitored by performance measures. Performance measures were organized under objectives within the framework of habitat guilds. A Project Tracking Database will be implemented to evaluate CWCS effectiveness.
Monitoring plans were developed for all taxonomic groups.
Monitoring projects were developed to address a wide range of targets; including species, populations, and habitats.
Monitoring projects were identified as either established or new.
Monitoring projects were developed for watersheds, ecoregions, and microhabitats.
A Project Tracking Database will be implemented to evaluate CWCS conservation actions and to adapt those actions accordingly.
Element Number 6. Descriptions of procedures to review the Strategy/Plan at intervals not to exceed ten years.
Section 3.4 discusses the adaptive management of monitoring projects. Appendix 3.10 lists the plans to update conservation actions annually
We will complete comprehensive reviews at intervals of not more than 10 years. Section 3.4 discusses the adaptive management of the monitoring projects. Appendix 3.10 lists the plans to update the conservation actions annually.
Element Number 7. Descriptions of the plans for coordinating, to the extent feasible, the development, implementation, review, and revision of the Plan-Strategy with Federal, State, and local agencies and Indian tribes that manage significant land and water areas within the State or administer programs that significantly affect the conservation of identified species and habitats.
Partners were involved throughout the planning process.
Significant input from external agencies and species experts was used to develop the CWCS species list, review species occurrence maps, and review of the complete strategy via the internet. There are currently no federally recognized Native American tribes or tribal areas in Kentucky.
Partners will be asked to biennially review conservation actions, and to review CWCS goals and objectives at the end of 5 years.
Element Number 8. Descriptions of the necessary public participation in the development, revision, and implementation of the Plan.
Public participation is described in Volume I.
The complete plan was made available on the web and comments were solicited. The plan was described on Kentucky Afield Radio and Kentucky Afield Television and through press releases.
Public opinion surveys are conducted every decade. Updates to the CWCS plan will be made available on a public web site.
Regulations of the KDFWR are established by a 9-member commission. Vacancies to the Commission are filled by appointment by the Governor from a list of 5 names from each the 9 wildlife districts, recommended and submitted by the sportsmen of each respective district. The Commission is largely bi-partisan, as no more that 5 members can be from the same political party. All regulations proposed by the Commission must be published and available for public review. Also, Kentucky Revised Statute 61.820 requires that all meetings of all public agencies of this state, and any committees or subcommittees thereof, shall be held at specified times and places which are convenient to the public, and all public agencies shall provide for a schedule of regular meetings by ordinance, order, resolution, bylaws, or by whatever other means may be required for the conduct of business of that public agency. The schedule of regular meetings shall be made available to the public. The commission and each of the subcommittees of the Commission meet at least 4 times per year. This provides another avenue of public input to the CWCS.
We are stewards of Kentucky's fish and wildlife resources and their habitats. We manage for the perpetuation of these resources and their use by present and future generations. Through partnerships, we will enhance wildlife diversity and promote sustainable use, including hunting, fishing, boating and other nature-related recreation.
Chapter 150 of Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS) establishes the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR) as the State agency responsible for the conservation of the State’s wildlife resources. KRS 150.010 (http://www.lrc.ky.gov/KRS/150-00/010.PDF) defines wildlife as "any normally undomesticated animal, alive or dead, including without limitations any wild mammal, bird, fish, reptile, amphibian, or other terrestrial or aquatic life”. These statutes have been liberally interpreted to include wildlife conservation and protection, wildlife research, conservation education, and wildlife-associated recreation programs.
The Department's wildlife conservation, conservation education, and recreation programs utilize the collective knowledge and expertise of staff throughout the agency working in collaboration with state, federal, local, university and private partners. We believe that wise decision-making is dependent on an effective interface between biologists, the public, and policy makers. Staff are continuously kept current with the latest theories and techniques in ecological science, monitoring and research, and human dimensions.
The Department recognizes that limited funding has left a broad array of wildlife species and associated habitats with unmet needs. Two task forces also identified these funding needs. In 1995, the Kentucky Biodiversity Task Force issued a report, after extensive studies involving a broad array of state, federal, university and private interest and extensive public involvement, on the status of biodiversity in Kentucky and strategies to sustain this natural heritage. The task force identified the need for expanded programs to conserve and enhance conditions for wildlife, especially for those species not hunted or fished. They also found that while there were programs that addressed threatened and endangered species there were few programs that addressed endangered ecosystems and that by sustaining endangered ecosystems a large number of species would be prevented from becoming threatened or endangered. In 1997 a legislative task force, The Task Force on Funding Wildlife Conservation (Legislative Research Commission 1997), emphasized the ecological, aesthetic, cultural, and recreational values of wildlife to Kentucky and the need for additional funding for wildlife conservation. State and Tribal Wildlife Conservation Grants will make it possible to meet some of these unmet needs.
The Department uses a wide array of tools to conserve, enhance and protect wildlife habitat. These include but are not limited to land acquisition, landowner incentives, landowner recognition, cooperative agreements, partnering with other state and federal agencies, partnering with individual landowners and businesses, and informational and educational programs.
The Department recognizes the success of our programs is contingent on the understanding and support of people. Therefore, we use collaborative planning and learning to provide opportunities for people to work together and to build stewardship capacity for sustainability.
Priority for State and Tribal Wildlife Grants will be given to development, revision, and implementation of wildlife conservation and restoration programs and projects that address the unmet needs of a diverse array of wildlife and associated habitats. The future desired condition expected to result from these programs is sustaining Kentucky’s biological diversity.
Kentucky is a diverse state in many ways. The state’s diversity is exhibited in it physical landscape, its plant and animal species, and its cultural characteristics. It was admitted to the Union in 1792, and its current boundaries were established in 1818 with the acquisition of the Jackson Purchase from the Chickasaws. Its location in the central part of North America has much to do with the variety found within its borders. It is bounded by the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers on the west; the Ohio River on the north; the Big Sandy River, Pine Mountain, and Cumberland Mountain on the east; and the state of Tennessee to the south.
Kentucky’s vegetation as witnessed by the first European settlers was in part a reflection of the practices of Native Americans. The ecological assemblages of vegetation that formed after glaciers retreated evolved in the presence of Native Americans from temperate vegetation that survived to the south. There is much debate among ecologists as to the extent of the influence by Native Americans. Prehistoric cultures are known to have existed in the area about 12,000 years ago. Their way of life evolved during that time from a hunter/gatherer society to one based on agriculture.
According to Delcourt (2002) the vegetation encountered by early Europeans was not a stable “virgin” forest untouched by humans but a “dynamic mosaic” of species, still adapting to postglacial changes and the effects of human disturbance. Native Americans burned parts of the ecosystems in which they lived to promote a diversity of habitats, especially increasing the “edge effect,” which gave them greater security and stability to their lives. Their use of fire was different from European settlers who burned to create greater uniformity in ecosystems. In general, during the pre-settlement period, fires were often interpreted as either purposeful or accidental. Fires were purposefully set for hunting, improving growth and yields, creating fireproof areas, collecting honey, pest management, warfare, and signaling. These purposeful fires differ from natural fires by the seasonality of burning, frequency of burning, and the intensity of the fire. Further study is needed to more fully understand the extent of fire use by Native Americans and the effect on landscape composition, structure and function. At the time of European settlement the vegetation of Kentucky was likely a patch-work of community types in some areas, but the matrix across most of the state was old growth forest.
European settlers coming to Kentucky in the middle 1700s found and exploited a wealth of natural resources, including abundant wildlife populations. By the early 1900s they had decimated populations of wildlife such as the wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo), American bison (Bos bision), and white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus). Others, such as the passenger pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius) and eastern elk (Cervus elaphus canadensis) were lost to extinction.
The total surface area of Kentucky is 25,863,412 acres. It is divided into 120 different counties (Appendix 1.2). Very little of Kentucky’s land area is in public ownership (approximately 8%). Public land holdings tend to be small and isolated with little connectivity between parcels (Appendix 1.3). Only 9 of the 223 public land parcels mapped by the Kentucky Gap Analysis Project (Wethington et al. 2003) were larger than 25,000 acres. Conversely, 110 of the 223 were smaller than 625 acres. Overall, Federal ownership (1,707,000 acres) is much greater than state ownership (243,541 acres; Appendix 1.4). The U.S. Forest Service is the largest holder of public lands with 811,042 acres or 3.1% of the total surface area. At just over 700,000 acres, the Daniel Boone National Forest is the largest single property although there are substantial private in-holdings within the proclamation boundary.
Approximately 92% of the land area in Kentucky is in private ownership; consequently, any conservation efforts must involve private landowners. Many existing state and Federal programs exist to promote good wildlife stewardship practices on private land. For example, as of July 2005, Kentucky landowners had 344,747 acres enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program and 3,105 acres in the Wetland Reserve Program. Landowners with more than a million acres of land are participating in KDFWR Habitat Improvement Programs.
Historically, Kentucky has been a rural state. This is quickly changing. The Census Bureau reports the 2004 estimated population for Kentucky to be 4,145,922, up nearly 1 million from the 3,230,894 reported in 1970 (http://www.census.gov/). Using the current estimated growth rate of 0.86% per year, another 1 million (5,235,685) will be added by 2030. Based on 2000 census data, the most densely populated areas in Kentucky include Jefferson County, Fayette County, northern Kentucky near Cincinnati (Boone, Kenton, and Campbell Counties), Boyle County, Davies County, and McCracken County (Appendix 1.5). These same counties tend to have experienced the greatest increase in population density. Warren and Laurel counties are exceptions to this trend. Both these counties have experienced relatively high population increases over the past decade and are located within Priority Conservation Areas identified in Section 4.5.
Kentucky’s estimated population density in July 2005 was 106.9 persons per square mile. Over the next 25 years the density is expected to increase to 131.8 persons per square mile. In 2004 there were an estimated 1,647,464 households in Kentucky with the average household size being 2.5 people. The number of households is estimated to grow to more than 2,000,000 over the next 25 years. The population is currently 48% rural and 52% urban resulting in relatively high level of development per capita. The 1997 Natural Resources Inventory (NRI) showed 1,737,500 acres of developed land in Kentucky (Natural Resources Conservation Service, 1997). That is 0.45 acre per person. The NRI also showed that Kentucky developed 237,100 acres from 1992 to 1997 or approximately 130 acres per day. Habitat loss and fragmentation are among the most serious threats to Kentucky’s wildlife. As levels of habitat drop below critical threshold levels, a wide range of factors can influence both the reduction in species diversity and decline of populations. These are sometimes called cascading fragmentation effects (Lindenmayer and Franklin 2002). They include changes in population and genetic structure, and environmental variability.
Historically, Kentucky’s economy has been land based. Agriculture, forestry, and mineral extraction were the primary industries. These industries are still important, but in recent decades Kentucky’s economy has steadily diversified. The Gross State Product (GSP) in 2003 was $128.98 billion. The largest sector of the economy was manufacturing at $25.5 billion. Farms accounted for $1.5 billion, mineral extraction for $2.3 billion, and forestry slightly less than a half billion dollars (US Department of Commerce, 2005).
Kentucky is the 3rd largest coal producer in the United States behind Wyoming and West Virginia. In 2004 Kentucky’s total coal production was 113.5 million tons of which 61% was by underground mining and 39% was by surface mining (Office of Surface Mining 2004a). In 2004, 86 new permits were issued for 32,815 acres bringing the total permitted acres since 1977 to 1,705,900 acres (Office of Surface Mining 2004b). The total acreage disturbed is 245,577. The National Mining Association (NMA) estimates the annual production value of all mining in Kentucky to be $3.74 billion with a total economic impact of $14.89 billion (not including oil).
Kentucky ranks 4th in total number of farms, tied with Tennessee and following Texas, Missouri and Iowa (US Department of Agriculture, 2005). In 2003, Kentucky had 87,000 farms, averaging 159 acres and totaling of 13,800,000 acres statewide (row crop and pasture) or approximately 54% of the total acreage in the state (US Department of Agriculture, 2005). The National Agricultural Statistics Service lists total farm sales at $3.47 billion (Kentucky Agricultural Statistic Service, 2004).
Kentucky ranks 3rd nationally in hardwood production with more than $4.5 billion of revenue generated annually from the primary and secondary wood industries (Kentucky Division of Forestry 2005). The 2003 Forest Inventory revealed that forest land covers nearly 12 million acres or slightly under half of Kentucky’s land area, showing a decrease of 769,000 acres since the 1988 inventory (U.S. Forest Service, 2005). The vast majority (89%) of this land is in private ownership. Timber removals averaged 311.8 million cubic feet annually (U.S. Forest Service, 2005).
In comparison, the total economic impact of fishing, hunting and wildlife watching in 2001 in Kentucky was $3.2 billion (American Sportfishing Association 2002, and Caudhill 2001).
While the economic rank of these traditional industries has lessened to some degree they are very evident upon the landscape. The historic and current importance of these 3 industries to the people of Kentucky cannot be overstated. We recognize this importance and seek to cooperate with private and commercial stake holders to find ways to preserve these industries, but make them friendlier to fish and wildlife. Many existing programs seek to improve guidelines given in Best Management Practices and other education efforts. There are many opportunities through this strategy to improve habitats by working cooperatively with these industries.
Kentucky’s landscapes are among the most varied in the eastern United States, ranging from striking mountains to gently rolling lowlands to flat plains, interspersed with knobs and caves (Appendix 1.6, Appendix 1.7). Beyond its aesthetic appeal, this variety holds a great wealth of biodiversity. An excellent discussion of the relationship between Kentucky’s physical setting and its natural communities is provided by Jones (2005).
Kentucky’s location in the southeast interior U.S. produces a moderate climate. Bailey (1995) classified Kentucky’s climate as in the Humid Temperate Domain. The state’s weather systems are associated with cyclic movement of the jet stream. Winter and spring weather are dominated by low pressure, including both cold and warm fronts, bringing cloudy, cool, and sometimes wet days. In winter, an occasional high pressure system dips southward from Canada bringing cold, clear and dry conditions to the state and region. The jet stream moves northward in summer and fall and the state is dominated by high-pressure. Clockwise airflow around this high-pressure system results in warm, humid summers as air flows up the Mississippi and Ohio Valleys from the south. The prevalent wind direction is from the south-southwest with typically light surface winds.
Temperatures in Kentucky are normally at the lowest in January and highest in July. Latitude and elevation influence mean annual temperatures in the state. The highest temperatures usually occur in extreme western Kentucky at the lower elevations. The lowest temperatures occur along the upland Ohio and West Virginia borders. Thirty-year averages of mean annual temperatures throughout Kentucky vary with a maximum of 60°F for Gilbertsville in the west and a minimum of 53°F for Ashland in the east. Extremely cold or hot temperatures are rare. The growing season follows a similar pattern to temperature patterns geographically, extending from 155-170 days in eastern and northern regions to more than 200 days in western and southern portions of the state.
Kentucky receives about 46 inches of precipitation annually. Although precipitation is distributed fairly evenly throughout the year, most of the state experiences a spring maximum and fall minimum. The annual distribution of precipitation is typically in phase with the temperature fluctuations during the summer months. The precipitation maximum normally occurs in the same month as the temperature maximum, often in July. Western Kentucky, however, exhibits a March precipitation maximum. Eastern Kentucky shows a July precipitation maximum with a strong secondary peak in March. October is usually the driest month in the state. Kentucky receives about twelve inches of snowfall annually, but most winter precipitation falls as rain, drizzle, or sleet. Ice storms occasionally cause major ecological disturbance in Kentucky.
Effective management of natural resources requires the combination of high-quality science and the availability of data-rich information. A key information need for fish and wildlife resource managers, scientists, and educators is the current state of knowledge about species and their habitats.
Wildlife habitat is a concept related to a particular wildlife species. More specifically, habitat is an area with the combination of the necessary resources (e.g., food, cover, water) and environmental conditions (temperature, precipitation, presence or absence of predators and competitors) that promotes occupancy by individuals of a given species (or population), and allows those individuals to survive and reproduce. The arrangement of these habitat resources and features to meet the biological needs of a species identifies the habitat niche a species occupies. From a systems perspective this provides a framework for the ecological role or function that individual species play within the environment.
In general, terrestrial habitats in Kentucky are either directly or closely linked to forests. The Kentucky Biodiversity Task Force (1995) estimated that forests covered 90-95 percent of Kentucky at the time of settlement and that barrens and other open communities covered 5-10 percent (Appendix 1.8). Today Kentucky is about 47 percent forested, and the original barrens exist only in a few small remnants. Several classification systems exist for organizing the forests, but recognizing all of the different forest classifications is beyond the scope of this strategy. Jones (2005) recently published a guide to the vascular flora of Kentucky. This work was used extensively by terrestrial taxonomic group leaders to develop the habitat guilds (Section 3.3.2). Readers desiring a more thorough discussion of forests and other vegetative communities are referred to Jones (2005).
Wetland habitats form the transition between terrestrial and aquatic habitats. Even though wetlands occur throughout the state, the major wetlands of Kentucky are the bottomland hardwood forests concentrated on the broad floodplains and poorly drained areas in western Kentucky in the Coastal Plain (Mississippi Embayment) and Shawnee Hills regions. Forests along all of the major rivers and streams are the remnants of forests that occupied the associated floodplain. Some of the most productive natural areas in Kentucky are wetlands. They once covered an estimated 1.6 million acres, but have been reduced to about 320,000 acres, an 80 percent loss (Dahl, 1990). Many of the remaining wetlands have also been degraded.
Aquatic habitats in Kentucky include streams, oxbow lakes, sloughs, springs, and cave streams. These habitats range from small headwater streams to the Mississippi River and also include 23 major reservoirs, 147 public lakes, and well over 200,000 farm ponds. There are 89,431 miles of streams and 40,409 acres of surface water in Kentucky (Kentucky Division of Water, 2005). Stream habitat conditions differ according to gradient, volume and constancy of flow, current velocity, water clarity, development of riffles and pools, and nature of the bottom materials (Pflieger, 1975). Taxonomic group leaders used the habitat classification system presented by Burr and Warren, 1986 (Section 3.3.1).
Level III (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2002) and level IV (Woods et al. 2002) ecoregions formed the basis for our spatial assessment of terrestrial SGCN and their habitats (Appendix 1.9 and Appendix 1.10). There are 7 level III ecoregions in Kentucky. The Interior Low Plateaus (ILP) comprises the largest single ecoregion and occupies a central location within the state. This ecoregion includes the Bluegrass area around Lexington, the karst region including a portion of Mammoth Cave National Park, and all of the Land Between the Lakes National Forest. Mammoth Cave National Park lies in both the ILP and the Interior River Valleys and Hills ecoregion (IRVH). This ecoregion is made up of nearly level lowlands that are dominated by agriculture and forested hills (Woods et al. 2002). Forested bottomland wetlands were once common here but these have largely been replaced and/or degraded by extensive agriculture and coal mining. The Mississippi Alluvial Plain and Mississippi Valley Loess Plains ecoregions occupy the far western portions of Kentucky. Here is found the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers and the overall topography flattens forming numerous swamps, sloughs. Eastern Kentucky contains 3 ecoregions, the Southwest Appalachians, Central Appalachians, and Western Allegheny Plateau. All these are associated with steep relief, head water streams, and large blocks of deciduous forest cover.
The level III ecoregions were subdivided into 25 level IV ecoregions by Woods et al. 2002. All but 4 of the 25 continue into similar parts of adjacent states (Griffith et al. 1998; Woods et al. 1998). The digital boundary data along with highly descriptive text (Appendix 1.11) was developed through a collaborative effort between many federal and state agencies along with non-governmental organizations such as The Nature Conservancy. These finer scale ecoregion boundaries are ideal for coordinating efforts across political and administrative boundaries. They form a good representative of the ecologic and biologic diversity in Kentucky. Biological information about these ecoregions is easily shared with adjoining states. As described in Section 4.4 Level IV ecoregions formed the basis for identifying conservation areas for terrestrial SGCN.
Watersheds (hydrologic units) were used to examine the distribution of aquatic SGCN (U.S. Geological Survey, 2001a; U.S. Geological Survey, 2001b). We employed a 2-tiered approach by using both large (8-digit hydrologic units) and smaller watersheds (14 digit hydrologic units). There are 42 distinct 8-digit watersheds ranging in size from approximately 9,000 acres (Obion Creek) to 2,075,247 acres (Kentucky River) with an average area of 615,772 acres (Appendix 1.12). All drain into either the Ohio or Mississippi Rivers. Kentucky shares many of these 8-digit watershed basins with Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia providing further opportunity for coordination with neighboring states. We used the 8-digit watershed boundaries to delineate conservation areas for fishes, lampreys, and mussels (Section 4.3). There are 9,096 14-digit hydrologic units that vary in size from under 1 acre up to 138,977 acres and averaging 2,844 acres. These smaller watersheds were used to identify ‘hot spots’ for aquatic species (Section 4.3.3).
The Division of Water, under the Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet, is the lead state agency for monitoring and assessing Kentucky’s watersheds. They have initiated a multi-year project, the Watershed Management Initiative (http://www.watersheds.ky.gov/framework/). The KDFWR has participated in this collaborative effort since its inception. Continued cooperation and expansion of these existing programs are key components for successful implementation of this CWCS for aquatic organisms.
This section provides a general overview of the CWCS planning process. More detailed methodologies for making decisions are included in other sections of this document, especially in Section 3.4
The simple objective of any planning process is to promote decisions that are informed, understood, accepted, and able to be implemented. An additional objective is to promote ongoing learning through the planning process so that future decisions can be better informed. With an acknowledgment of these objectives and an acceptance of the KDFWR goals and the State and Tribal Wildlife Conservation Grants Legislation, our planning process for the CWCS is structured with several fundamental elements at its core:
Appropriate priority is placed on those species with the greatest conservation need. The CWCS planning process is a dynamic process and the CWCS is a living document; consequently, the process will continue long after the first iteration of the Strategy is completed.
Informed decisions are those well grounded in an understanding of current conditions and future trends, all at spatial and temporal scales appropriate to the issues that define the planning process. Informed decisions build upon current ecological and human systems of the planning area and current knowledge of those systems. Hence, the CWCS planning process is outward-looking to capture the full scope of the issues involved, is built upon comprehensive assessments that describe the ecological as well as the social elements of the planning area, and is grounded in science. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and relational databases were used throughout the planning process. The 5 “species/technical committees” reviewed existing literature, including other plans; consulted with other experts; and used best professional judgment to identify issues facing “species with greatest conservation needs” and their habitats and to develop and prioritize conservation actions to abate those issues.
The planning committees reviewed numerous plans developed by other agencies. These included but were not limited to: North American Waterfowl Plan (2004), Partner-in-Flight North American Landbird Conservation Plan (Rich et al. 2004), United States Shorebird Conservation Plan (Brown et al. 2001), North American Waterbird Conservation Plan (Kushlan et al. 2002), Lower Mississippi Valley Joint Venture Migratory Bird Science Team (2002), Kentucky Biodiversity Task Force (1995), TNC Ecoregional Plans (TNC, Unpublished data) , Kentucky Watershed Management Initiative (Kentucky Division of Water 2004, 5 plans), Daniel Boone National Forest Plan (U.S. Forest Service 2004), Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area Plan (2004), Jefferson National Forest Plan (U.S. Forest Service 2004), Federally listed species recovery plans (9 plans), National Invasive Species Plan (National Invasive Species Council 2001), National Strategy and Implementation Plan for Invasive Species Management (U.S. Forest Service 2004), Habitat management Guidelines for Amphibians and Reptiles of the Midwest (Kingsbury and Gibson 2002, Partners for Amphibian and Reptile Conservation), and An Assessment and Strategy for the Conservation of Aquatic Resources on the Daniel Boone National Forest (Aquatic Resource Assessment Team 2001).
The CWCS planning process is collaborative in nature, fostering communication, coordination and problem solving across a diverse spectrum of individuals, organizations, agencies, and governments whose concurrence, involvement, and action are essential to the success of the CWCS planning process. Early in the planning process we organized a steering committee, a core committee, a partner committee, and 5 technical/species specialists committees. The partners committee included representatives from the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission, Kentucky Division of Water, The Nature Conservancy and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In addition to the partners committee, we communicated with other state and federal natural resources management agencies throughout the planning process.
The CWCS planning process is designed to illuminate the desired future conditions of not just the Department but also other affected interests. Prior to initiating this process, KDFWR and its partners conducted more than 40 regional and statewide public meetings (9 Strategic Plan, 11 Biodiversity Task Force, 15 Smart Growth, and at least one in each of the 7 river basins during the Division of Water’s watershed planning initiative). These meetings framed issues relating to sustaining Kentucky’s Biological Diversity. Participants repeatedly told us that sustaining Kentucky’s diverse wildlife was important, but an equal number told us that maintaining private landowner rights was important. They encouraged us to provide private landowners with technical, financial, and educational assistance to enhance their stewardship capacity. The incorporation of independent review ensures that the decisions are sound and credible beyond KDFWR. Throughout the CWCS planning process draft documents were provided to technical experts across Kentucky for their comments.
Decisions that are able to be implemented are those made in a manner that recognizes institutional, political, budgetary, and behavior realities and incentives and that builds the capacity for stewardship. Since 92% of the land in Kentucky is in private ownership, successful conservation depends on the commitment of the people living with wildlife. Habitats on these lands will only be preserved if compatible with long-term economic and social benefits.
Planning should be structured to promote continuous learning. Hence, the CWCS planning process incorporates monitoring, evaluation, and adaptation mechanisms that promote feedback, learning, and change as knowledge expands, events occur, and public policies evolve. The planning teams also developed performance measures that will be used to evaluate the effectiveness of conservation actions and to adapt actions. Performance based monitoring and the use of adaptive management will result in continuous improvement of the CWCS. This approach is essential to adapting to change and unexpected outcomes (ecological uncertainty).
Sustainability of ecological systems is not and cannot be the sole responsibility of any single agency, organization or landowner. Ecological systems transcend public and private land ownerships; they do not recognize or conform to geopolitical boundaries. What happens ecologically on one parcel of land will invariably affect what is possible on adjacent lands. Since much of Kentucky’s total land area is in private ownership, efforts to sustain Kentucky’s biodiversity must involve, gain acceptance of, and increase the stewardship capacity of private landowners. Federal agencies are the largest land holders in Kentucky. Coordination with other federal and state landowners is essential to developing integrated strategies and for adapting these strategies to changed conditions over time.
Much of the data analyzed in this plan was provided by other state agencies, such as the Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission and Kentucky Division of Water; federal agencies, such as the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Park Service; non-governmental organizations, such as the Nature Conservancy; a myriad of university scientists; and interested individuals. It enables policies, strategies, and management decisions to be informed in a scientifically credible manner. The planning process seeks to identify knowledge gaps and research needs to inform management decisions. It fosters understanding and concurrence on the conditions of the land and resources. The desired future includes sustaining Kentucky’s wildlife diversity and the habitats on which it depends.
Coordination with other state and federal agencies and non-governmental organizations is essential to conservation of SGCN. KDFWR has recognized this in its conservation efforts prior to the CWCS planning process. Examples of collaborative conservation efforts include the Green River Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, the Copperbelly Watersnake Conservation Agreement, and cooperative agreements with the Daniel Boone National Forest, the Land Between the Lakes National Forest and Recreation Area, the Nature Conservancy, Kentucky Division of Forestry, Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission, and the Army Corp of Engineers. KDFWR is a major participant in the Watershed Management Initiative coordinated by the Kentucky Division of Water. These prior and continuing efforts have provided a good foundation for collaboration and coordination in the CWCS planning process.
Early in the planning process a “partner team” that included the Nature Conservancy, Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission, Kentucky Division of Water, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the KDFWR was developed. We have also provided other state and federal natural resource management agency representatives, university personnel, non-affiliated individuals, and NGOs with copies of draft documents and encouraged them to comment (Appendix 1.13). Employees of the KDFWR not serving specifically on the CWCS team were also informed of the planning efforts and encouraged to provide input.
Through the implementation of the CWCS we will engage those who have the information, knowledge, and expertise to contribute; those who have sole control or authority over lands important to wildlife; those who have the skills, energy, time, and resources to carry out stewardship activities; and those who can independently validate the credibility of stewardship decisions and the reality of achievements.
The involvement of all Kentuckians is vital to the conservation of biological diversity. Initiatives already being taken at multiple levels can be catalyzed by a variety of integrated measures that increase awareness and involvement. Public participation relevant to the CWCS includes involvement prior to initiation of the CWCS planning process and during the planning process.
From 1993 to the present KDFWR has included questions on wildlife conservation in the biannual Kentucky Poll conducted by the University of Kentucky Survey Research Center. These polls have helped frame conservation issues by providing information on public attitudes and trends. We also contracted the University of Kentucky Survey Research Center to conduct polls relating to specific issues. These include but are not limited to: Biodiversity Poll (focused on knowledge, attitudes, and values), Landowner Survey, and Smart Growth Survey.
In 1993 and 1994 strategic planning public meetings were conducted in each of the 9 Commission districts. The focus of these meetings was to gain input from the public on the agencies proposal to move from focusing mostly on game species to focusing on all species. More than 1,200 people participated in these meetings. Prior to each public meeting a similar meeting was held with all agency staff in each district.
In 1995 a Biodiversity Task Force was appointed to analyze the current status of biodiversity, identify the human and natural factors affecting it, and make recommendations for sustaining it. It was co-chaired by the Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources and the Commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources. It included members from state and federal natural resource agencies, conservation organizations, ecological consultants, colleges and universities, industry, the Kentucky Farm Bureau, coal companies, timber companies, and legislators. A major component of the Task Force’s work focused on finding out what Kentuckians think should and should not be done in the effort to conserve biodiversity. The Task Force held 11 public meetings statewide, attracting more than 700 participants and conducted a statewide poll through the University of Kentucky Survey Research Center.
In 1997, KDFWR worked with private landowners and other state and federal agencies to develop the Kentucky Private Lands Council to assist private landowners with conservation projects. Part of this effort included a series of meetings with private landowners to get their input on how state and federal agencies could assist with their conservation efforts. Landowners wanted KDFWR to continue its very successful Habitat Incentive Program and to provide them with more stewardship incentives.
In 2001 a Smart Growth Task Force was appointed by the governor. KDFWR facilitated the work of the Smart Growth Committee on Agriculture, Environment, and Wildlife. Fifteen public meetings were held across the state with more than 2,000 participants. In anticipation of CWCS planning we solicited input on wildlife conservation issues. The University of Kentucky Survey Research Center conducted a statewide poll on attitudes toward Smart Growth.
Even though public input from these efforts were spread over a period of 8 years, the findings of the majority’s opinion was similar:
Surveys of non-industrial landowners showed the most important reasons for owning land were: to pass on to their children and grand children, wildlife conservation, and recreation. Results from our participation in the biannual Kentucky Polls were essentially the same.
Throughout the CWCS planning process KDFWR continued to participate in the biannual Kentucky Poll. Over the 12-year period we have participated in the Kentucky Poll there has been very little shift in attitudes and values toward wildlife. Kentuckians place a high priority on sustaining wildlife populations and two-thirds reported that they participated in some form of wildlife-associated recreation. The 2001 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife Associated Recreation had similar results with 40% of Kentuckians watching wildlife and 58% participating in some type of wildlife-associated recreation.
In the 2004 Spring Kentucky Poll, 92.1% of the respondents reported they had Internet access at home, at work, or both and 81.7% said they frequently accessed the Internet. Therefore, we made the draft CWCS available on the KDFWR Website and encouraged readers to comment. We received 339 hits to the site but very few comments. The Kentucky Afield TV Program did a segment on the CWCS and directed interested individuals to the KDFWR website to review and comment on the strategy. Kentucky Afield Magazine also did an article on the CWCS.
This version of Kentucky’s CWCS plan was intended to address each of the 8 elements required by the STWG legislation. Our work consisted largely of gathering existing baseline data and communicating our efforts with others. We viewed implementation as a separate process that will build upon the Plan. Continued development of the Plan is a dynamic process with new information continuously leading to adaptation of the Plan. Important components of this process include continued coordination with partners and adaptive management with periodic review of the document.
We recognize that effective implementation will require full involvement of our conservation partners, taxonomic experts, and the public. We are committed to establishing a multi-agency committee that will guide implementation of the Plan. There will be many tasks for this group that includes the following:
We will complete comprehensive reviews at intervals of not more than 5 years. These reviews will be guided by the following fundamental principles with appropriate priority placed on those species with the greatest conservation need:
We will use three types of reviews: internal review, partners review, and public review. Internal review will be a continuous process. We will use performance based monitoring identified in the strategy and new information from research and monitoring to adapt the strategy. Partners and public review will also be a continuous process but will be more intense during the comprehensive 5-year review.
Implementation of this strategy is not a precise process; there are many unknowns that are not under the control of resource managers. We will acknowledge the dynamic nature of ecological systems. Consequently, some strategies that were developed using the best available scientific information in 2005 will need to be adapted. These systems are also subject to anthropogenic disturbances that are beyond the control of resource managers. These changes will also require adaptations to the Plan.
We will acknowledge the significance of natural ecological processes. Kentucky’s landscapes will continuously change as a result of anthropogenic activity, natural succession, disturbance, climate change, loss of site productivity, establishment and spread of nonnative species, habitat fragmentation, loss of landscape connectivity and the loss of native species diversity. For example, we recently lost most of the Pine Ecosystem in Kentucky due to the Southern Pine Beetle outbreak. Natural processes will be considered in defining desired future conditions as well as in developing strategies for conservation.
We will acknowledge the uncertainty and inherent variability of ecological systems. Uncertainty arises from an incomplete understanding of how ecological systems work; from insufficient information; and from demographic, environmental, and genetic stochasticity. We will use results of new research and monitoring to adapt the strategy.
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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Cumberland elktoe (Alasmidonta atropurpurea), oyster mussel (Epioblasma capsaeformis), Cumberlandian combshell (Epioblasma brevidens), purple bean (Villosa perpurpurea), and rough rabbitsfoot (Quadrula cylindrica strigillata), Technical Draft Recovery Plan. 1998. Asheville, North Carolina, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Recovery plan for the Red-cockaded woodpecker (Picoides borealis): second revision. 2003. Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
U.S. Forest Service. Land and Resource Management Plan for the Daniel Boone National Forest. 2004. Winchester, KY., Daniel Boone National Forest.
U.S. Forest Service. Revised Land and Resource Management Plan: Jefferson National Forest. Management Bulletin R8-MB 115A, 396pp. 2004. Roanoke, Va., U.S. Forest Service.
Notes: Available at http://www.fs.fed.us/r8/gwj/forestplan/feischap/plan.pdf
U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station Kentucky Division of Forestry, US. Forest Service. Highlights of the 2003 Kentucky Forest Inventory. 2004. Knokville, TN and Frankfort, KY, Kentucky Division of Forestry;US. Forest Service.
Notes: Available at http://srsfia2.fs.fed.us/presentations/highlights_ky_03_fia.pdf
U.S. Geological Survey. 14 Digit Watershed (USGS 14-Digit Hydrologic Units) shapefiles . 2001. U.S. Geological Survey.
Notes: Available at http://water.usgs.gov/GIS/dsdl/huc14_250k.sdts.tgz
U.S. Geological Survey. 8 Digit Watershed (USGS 8-Digit Hydrologic Units) shapefiles. 2001.
US Department of Agriculture, F.S.. National Strategy and Implementation Plan for Invasive Species Management. FS-805. 2004. US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service.
Notes: Available at http://www.fs.fed.us/foresthealth/publications/Invasive_Species.pdf
Wethington, K., Derting, T., Kind, T., Whiteman, H., Cole, M., Drew, M., Frederick, D., Ghitter G., Smith, A., Soto, M.. The Kentucky Gap Analysis Project Final Report. 2003. Frankfort, KY., United States Geological Survey, Biological Resources Division.
Woods, A.J., Omernik, J.M., B., C.S., G., T.D., Hosteter, W.D., Azevedo, S.H.. Ecoregions of Indiana and Ohio. Woods, A. J., Omernik, J.M., Brockman, C.S., Gerber, T.D., Hosteter, W. D., and Azevedo, S. H. 1998. Reston, VA., U.S. Geological Survey.
Woods, A.J., Omernik, J.M., Martin, W.H., Pond, G.J., Andrews, W.M., Call, S.M., Comstock, J.A., Taylor, D.D.. Ecoregions of Kentucky (color poster with map, descriptive text, summary tables, and photographs): (map scale 1:1,000,000). 2002. Reston, VA, U.S. Geological Survey.
Notes: Available at http://www.epa.gov/wed/pages/ecoregions/ky_eco.htm
Volume II is designed to allow users easy access to information about each of the 301 Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) addressed in this Plan (Appendix 1.1). All of Elements 1 and 2, along with portions of Element 3 are addressed here. The species selection process is described along with data sources and the species accounts. The KY-CWCS team elected to provide detailed information about each species in the format of species accounts. The following sections explain the organization of the accounts, specific fields in the accounts, legends for the species occurrence maps, and other details to facilitate using this information.
Kentucky has a large variety of fish and wildlife species that are supported by equally diverse waterways and ecoregions. This diversity presented a challenge in deciding the appropriate groups and species to include in our Strategy. The CWCS team members considered all groups of vertebrates and invertebrates found in Kentucky with the guiding principles of identifying species and habitats in greatest need of conservation and adequately representing the diversity of habitats and species. The team quickly realized that digital data for invertebrate groups other than bivalves was very sparse. The Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission (KSNPC) Natural Heritage Database had approximately 900 records for 134 invertebrate taxa (average of 6.7 records per taxa) in the following groups: gastropods, arachnids, crustaceans, diplopods, and insects (Don Dott, pers. comm.). The team also realized that many invertebrate groups could be protected indirectly within the context of our strategy through protection of vertebrate groups and bivalves. An example of this principle is illustrated by Kentucky’s karst region. This area contains several known species of crayfishes, cave beetles, and isopods not included in our CWCS. There are likely several species not yet described by scientists. Many species will profit from conservation actions implemented for the many SGCN found within Priority Conservation Areas (PCAs) identified in Volume IV (e.g., Interior Low Plateau Karst Region, Appendix 4.32). Addressing the caves, streams, and many terrestrial habitats here provides wide ranging benefit to those invertebrates not included in this draft. We recognize that future revisions of this strategy will need to include groups of invertebrates not covered in this draft, especially land snails, and lepidopterons. We will work with partners to identify the appropriate groups. Given the scarcity of digital data for most invertebrates and the ability to provide indirect benefits, the CWCS team decided to restrict Kentucky’s species list to terrestrial vertebrates, fishes, lampreys, and bivalves.
Even after narrowing the field as just described nearly 900 species were left to consider (Appendix 2.1). The taxonomic overviews that follow give a more complete discussion of species diversity for each group. The CWCS planning team examined the list of species monitored by the KSNPC (Appendix 2.2). While the list of KSNPC monitored species provided a valuable starting point for species in need of conservation, it did not necessarily cover the diversity of habitats or include many species monitored by other groups. For example, several bird species were added based on information from the Partner’s in Flight Program. Team members ensured that all vertebrate and mussel species with NatureServe Global Ranks (GRank) of G1, G2, and G3 were included. However, great care was taken to ensure the list was not simply a ‘threatened and endangered list’ of species. Over half the species are G4 (apparently secure) or G5 (secure) (Appendix 2.3) and 203 of the 251 species have no status under the Endangered Species Act (Appendix 2.4). Conversely, over half of the species are S1 (critically imperiled) or S2 (imperiled) within Kentucky (Appendix 2.5). Most of these S1 and S2 species also have G4 or G5 rankings. Other criteria for inclusion of vertebrate and mussel species were state endemics, reptile and amphibian species whose status were uncertain, and extirpated species that may be re-introduced. The first draft of this species list was sent to other taxonomic experts for review and modifications were made based on these comments.
A wide variety of data were used to compile the species accounts that fall into two general categories: 1) information for the text portion and, 2) data for species occurrence maps. Each taxonomic group includes a literature section covering references used. In general, NatureServe and The Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission were widely cited across groups. Also, personal communication with a variety of taxonomic experts was often cited where data or publications were lacking.
Data for mapping were gleaned from 35 sources housed at the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources Fish and Wildlife Information System (KFWIS) that included 22,970 individual observations (Appendix 2.6 and 2.7). The precision of observation data range from points with latitude and longitude coordinates, USGS quadrangle observations, and county level only observations. First draft maps were sent to taxonomic experts for review and questionable occurrence records were flagged for further investigation.
Critical to the effective management of these data were the use of a relational database management system (RDBMS) in conjunction with a geographic information system (GIS). Use of RDBMS allowed species level information (e.g., taxonomy, status, trend, etc.) to be connected with spatial information (e.g., occurrences, habitat, range) using GIS. This allowed CWCS team members to more fully investigate the distribution of single species or groups of species based on criteria such as abundance (GRank or SRank) and habitat guild(s). Use of RDBMS and GIS will be essential to future revisions of the CWCS. This technology will allow for updating of status and distribution information as it becomes available and facilitate the sharing of information with conservation partners throughout the state. GIS modeling techniques can be employed to refine location of key habitat and species overlap areas.
Species accounts are arranged by taxonomic group and are accessed by navigating the outline. Each taxonomic section of the species accounts contains an overview, a list of species for that group, links to individual species occurrence maps, a literature cited, and a link to print all species occurrence maps
The overview sections contain information that places Kentucky’s fauna in a national and worldwide context in addition to specifics about Kentucky. There may also be maps, tables, and figures relevant to that taxonomic group. A hyperlinked species list immediately follows the overview. Clicking on a species name will automatically display the account for that animal. The accounts cover a variety of information about individual species such as status, trend, and habitat. Please see the Explanation of fields in species accounts (Appendix 2.13) for a detailed description of each field. A link is provided within each account that allows users to view the occurrence and range map for that species. To view all maps for a taxonomic group choose the ‘Download all Statewide Maps’ link. This opens a large PDF file that ranges from 4 megabytes for mammals and up to 67 megabytes for fish. This file can be printed to hard copy or simply viewed on-screen. To save this file on your computer, right click on the “Download” link, and select “Save Target As” (in Internet Explorer) or “Save Link As” (in Netscape).
If these files are too large for downloading on a particular system, a CD-ROM is available by contacting us. Species maps vary somewhat between aquatic and terrestrial groups (see map legends, Appendix 2.14). However, all available occurrence records are always displayed in one map while those acquired since 1984 are displayed separately.
Kentucky contains one of the most diverse fish faunas in the United States, exceeded only by Alabama and Tennessee. Currently, 260 species are known to occur or have occurred within the state, representing 69 genera and 30 families. Of the 260 species, 24 (9%) are the result of either intentional or accidental introduction by human activities, and 10 (4%) are presumed extinct or extirpated from the state (Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission 2004). Kentucky’s native fish fauna (236 species) represents approximately 30% of the entire native North American freshwater fish fauna (792 species; Lydeard and Mayden 1995). The most current list of rare and extirpated and/or extinct species maintained by the Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission (2004) includes 27 species (10%) with a conservation status of endangered, 11 (4%) that are threatened, and 16 (6%) that are of special concern. Four species (pallid sturgeon, Scaphirhynchus albus; palezone shiner, Notropis albizonatus; relict darter, Etheostoma chienense; and duskytail darter, E. percnurum) are listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as endangered, one (blackside dace, Phoxinus cumberlandensis) is threatened, and one (Cumberland Johnny darter, Etheostoma susanae) is a candidate proposed for listing. At least 6 species (one minnow, one madtom, and four darters) are either undescribed or recognized as distinct taxa.
The only synopsis of the distribution, systematics, habitat, and conservation status of Kentucky fishes to date is provided in Burr and Warren (1986). Since this publication, collecting activities in the state have revealed new information on distribution and conservation status for many species. Accumulation of this information over the past 20 years has been maintained primarily in the Natural Heritage Program database of the Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission, Kentucky Division of Water Quality, and Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. The Southern Illinois University at Carbondale (SIUC) ichthyological collection has served as the primary depository for fish collections made in Kentucky.
The Cumberland River drainage supports the most diverse and unusual fish fauna in Kentucky. Although the majority of the river basin drains Tennessee, a total of 158 species occur or once occurred in the Kentucky portion of the drainage (Burr and Warren 1986). Among these species, five darters (smallscale darter, Etheostoma microlepidum; barcheek darter, E. obeyense; bloodfin darter, E. sanguifluum; Cumberland Johnny darter, E. susanae; and striped darter, E. virgatum) and one minnow (blackside dace, Phoxinus cumberlandensis) are endemic to the Cumberland River drainage and are found in Kentucky. Two darter species (emerald darter, Etheostoma baileyi and arrow darter, E. sagitta) are shared exclusively with the Kentucky River drainage. In the upper Cumberland River drainage, the South Fork Cumberland River drainage harbors three species (palezone shiner, Notropis albizonatus; blackside dace, Phoxinus cumberlandensis; and duskytail darter, Etheostoma percnurum) that are listed as either threatened or endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The Green River drainage encompasses the largest area of any river drainage in the state. It drains multiple physiographic regions and supports a fish fauna composed of upland and lowland species (Burr and Warren 1986). With 150 species, it ranks second to the Cumberland River drainage in Kentucky with respect to species diversity and endemism (Butler et al. 2003). Five darter species (teardrop darter, Etheostoma barbouri; splendid darter, E. barrenense; orangefin darter, E. bellum; Kentucky darter, E. rafinesquei; and Shawnee darter, E. tecumsehi) and one sucker species (blackfin sucker, Thoburnia atripinnis) are endemic to the upper Green River drainage, and one darter species (frecklebelly darter, Percina stictogaster) is shared exclusively with the Kentucky River (Burr and Page, 1986; Ceas and Page, 1997). Three species in the cavefish family Amblyopsidae also occur in the karst region of the Green River. At least twenty of the 61 species listed as special concern, rare, or endangered by the Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission (2004) are found in the Green River drainage.
Although considerably smaller in size and species richness, Terrapin Creek, Running Slough, and oxbows of the Mississippi River in western Kentucky are of considerable importance in harboring several species otherwise unknown from the state (Burr and Warren 1986). Terrapin Creek, the only sizeable tributary of the Obion River in Kentucky, supports six species (blacktail redhorse, Moxostoma poecilurum; least madtom, Noturus hildebrandi; brown madtom, Noturus phaeus; gulf darter, Etheostoma swaini; brighteye darter, E. lynceum; and firebelly darter, Etheostoma pyrrhogaster) that are unique in the state. Several other species having limited distributions within the state maintain viable populations in Terrapin Creek, Running Slough, and other oxbow and wetland habitats along the Mississippi and lower Ohio Rivers (Burr and Warren 1986).
Modifications of natural habitats are occurring at an ever-increasing rate and have had severe impacts to Kentucky’s fish fauna. Collection data accumulated over the past 50 years reveal that many species are either extirpated, less abundant, or have more restricted ranges than formerly. Activities having the most significant impacts on aquatic habitats in the state include increased siltation and turbidity; acid drainage from coal mines; stream dredging and channelization; drainage and filling of swamps, oxbow lakes, and other wetlands; disposal of oil-field brines and associated wastes; industrial and domestic pollution; widespread use of herbicides and pesticides; and construction of impoundments. More recently, introduced species (e.g., Asian carps) and over-harvest of fishes have resulted in population declines for some species (Burr and Warren 1986).
Using the most current and available information on conservation status, distribution and biology, as well as recommendations provided by taxonomic authorities, 59 fish species were identified as “species of greatest conservation need” (SGCN). Most of these species were adopted from the Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service threatened and endangered species lists. Other criteria used to select SGCN species include level of endemism, knowledge of population status, distribution, and life history characteristics, and importance as hosts to rare or declining mussel species.
Freshwater mussels are the most at-risk group of animals in North America. Of the 297 native mussel species in the United States (Appendix 2.8), 71.7% are considered endangered, threatened, or of special concern, including 21 mussels that are endangered and presumed extinct (Williams et al. 1993). Seventy species (23.6%) are considered to have stable populations, although information is lacking for many of these species. In 2005, seventy U.S. mussel species were listed as federally endangered. Mussel and their host fish populations are projected to decline if habitats are not restored and individual species’ numbers are not increased.
The extinction and decline of mussels can be attributed to biological and ecological requirements that make particular species more vulnerable to human-caused effects. Habitat loss and degraded water quality, impoundments, commercial harvest, mining, channel degradation, exotic species, chemical non-point and point source pollutants, and many other factors have contributed to the downward spiral of mussel populations. Additional issues that have contributed to mussel declines include sedimentation from agricultural land, logging and mining operations, construction projects, stream channelization and dredging, toxic spills and resulting fish kills, and invasion from exotic species (Parmalee and Bogan 1998).
With the low numbers of mussels and continuing population declines, protecting each stage in the life cycle of mussels (Appendix 2.9) becomes critical. Life history stages include the production of larvae (currently inhibited by few numbers of adults), host fish attachment and development, and juvenile survival. Suitable hosts must be present and occur in adequate numbers to increase the chance of glochidial attachment. Good water quality and sufficient habitat is critical to all stages of development, especially for the larval and juvenile stages.
Kentucky has one of the most diverse mussel populations in North America with 41 genera and 103 recognized species. Twelve mussels are presumed extinct, and 22 species are listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as endangered (at least 8 of the 22 are considered extirpated from the state) (Appendix 2.10, data adapted from Williams et al. 1993, Cicerello et al. 1991).
Diverse mussel and fish populations occur in many of the state’s river systems (Appendix 2.11). The Ohio River drainage has historically been an important area for mussel diversity (Williams and Schuster 1989). Its tributaries now support some of the last few strongholds of rare and endangered mussels.
Kentucky has identified 46 mussels (44.6% of 103) that are considered to be the species of greatest conservation need. These include 19 species listed as federally endangered, and 2 candidate species for federal listing. The states heritage program lists 25 of the 46 species (54%) as state endangered, 5 (11%) as state threatened, and 5 (11%) as extirpated from Kentucky. Within the 46 species of greatest conservation need, there are 20 species listed as globally rare (G1) and 25 species as rare (S1) within Kentucky (Appendix 2.3, Appendix 2.5). Kentucky has within its boundaries some of the best populations of mussels, including the endangered fanshell, Cyprogenia stegaria, which is found in three river systems in the state. Some of the states most diverse populations of mussels are found in the Green River and tributaries to the Upper Cumberland River. It is not uncommon to find over 25-30 species and several thousand individuals at a single site in Kentucky.
The freshwater crayfishes (Order Decapoda) are one of the better known crustacean groups in Kentucky. Worldwide, freshwater crayfishes are represented by over 640 species (Crandall and Buhay 2008) with the southeastern United States being one of the epicenters of diversity. Three hundred sixty species are represented in the United States (Taylor et al. 2007). All of Kentucky’s crayfish fauna falls into the family Cambaridae and is represented by the genera Barbicambarus, Cambarus, Cambarellus, Fallicambarus, Orconectes, and Procambarus. Kentucky is home to one of the richer freshwater crayfish faunas in North America with 54 species, with some of those species still under taxonomic review and others potentially awaiting discovery. Seven species are endemic to the state of Kentucky (Cambarus batchi – Bluegrass Crayfish, Orconectes margorectus – Livingston Crayfish, Orconectes bisectus ¬– Crittenden Crayfish, Orconectes jeffersoni – Louisville Crayfish, Orconectes rafinesquei – Rough River Crayfish, Orconectes tricuspis – Western Highland Crayfish, Orconectes packardi – Appalachian Cave Crayfish). The most comprehensive treatments of Kentucky’s crayfish fauna includes Rhoades (1944) and Taylor and Schuster (2005).
Modification of habitats, sedimentation, and dams are serious threats to freshwater crayfishes. A larger threat that has not yet impacted Kentucky is the introduction and establishment of non-native crayfishes. Several studies have shown the displacement of native species by more aggressive or opportunistic non-native species (Capelli 1982; Taylor and Redmer 1996; Hill and Lodge 1999). Many introductions are suspected to be from fisherman dumping their purchased live crayfish into the stream at the end of the day.
Nationally, about 48% of crayfish species are of conservation concern (ranging from Vulnerable to Endangered); over a third (37%) of the Kentucky fauna falls into this category (KSNPC, 2010). Within the Commonwealth, much of this is driven by concerns related to very small distributional extents or endemism. For instance, The Crittenden Crayfish (Orconectes bisectus) and Livingston Crayfish (Orconectes margorectus) are only found in a few streams within a couple of counties in northwestern Kentucky. The recently discovered Cumberland Plateau Cave Crayfish, recently differentiated from other species using genetic data (Buhay and Crandall, 2008), is one of our rarest crayfishes. Its global distribution is underground cave streams within an area of less than 180 square miles in southeastern Kentucky. Currently, no crayfish species are federally-protected in Kentucky although the Louisville Crayfish has been previously reviewed as a candidate for federal listing and more recently, the Blood River Crayfish.
The crayfishes of Kentucky all depend on a connection to groundwater. This facilitates burrowing, a behavior common to all crayfishes. Some species, such as stream dwellers (known as tertiary burrowers), spend only a short time of the year burrowed into the groundwater, an example being drought periods. Other species spend a majority of the year in groundwater burrow systems (primary burrowers), coming out only to breed or forage (Taylor and Schuster 2005). An example of this behavior can been seen by walking though fields in the spring and looking for mud chimneys made by the excavation activity of a crayfish. The Upland Burrowing Crayfish (Cambarus dubius), for instance, can be seen doing this at certain times of the year. Secondary burrowers are an intermediate between these two strategies, spending time in the year between streams and burrow systems.
Cave species are particularly at-risk from upland activities that pollute groundwater flowing into cave systems; this includes issues with chemical spills, agricultural runoff, salt from roads, and siltation from poor land use. Best Management Practices are needed to guard against perturbations to groundwater.
Species occurrence data was used to determine 8-digit hydrologic units (watersheds) where there were endemic or multiple species of SGCN crayfish. Eleven 8-digit watersheds were identified as Crayfish Conservation Areas (Appendix 4.35), in alphabetic order: Barren, Bayou De Chien, Kentucky Lake, Little Kentucky, Lower Ohio-bay, Middle Green, South Fork Cumberland, Upper Cumberland, Upper Cumberland-Lake Cumberland, Upper Green, and Upper Levisa.
All Amphibians. The amphibians (Class Amphibia) form a moderately diverse group consisting of about 4,100 species worldwide (Conant and Collins 1991), including more that 3,700 species of frogs and nearly 400 salamanders. At the present time, 55 species are known to occur in Kentucky: 20 frogs and 35 salamanders. About 20% of these (six frogs and five salamanders) are currently tracked by the Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission (KSNPC), and 40% of the Kentucky fauna (eight frogs and 14 salamanders) (see Appendix 2.1) was selected for inclusion into our CWCS for various conservation reasons. The most recent comprehensive treatment dealing with Kentucky’s amphibian fauna is that of Barbour (1971), but much of the information contained there is sketchy and/or out of date. The most reliable sources that are currently available include Petranka (1998) for salamanders and Conant and Collins (1991) and Minton (2001) for all amphibians.
Kentucky’s amphibians occur in a wide variety of habitats. Some species are largely or totally terrestrial, while others are entirely aquatic throughout their life cycle. Some are found only in swamps and/or bottomland forests bordering the Mississippi River and lower Ohio River, while others prefer upland forests in various sections of the state or even the high elevation northern hardwood forests in extreme southeastern Kentucky; still others prefer open grasslands and prairie remnants.
All of Kentucky’s 20 frog species breed in water. Some species prefer temporary ponds, road ruts, and ditches as breeding sites while others use permanent ponds or even the backwater areas of rivers and large streams. Kentucky’s 35 salamander species are more variable in breeding habitat; ten of our salamanders are completely terrestrial at all life stages while the remaining 25 species have aquatic larvae. The terrestrial forms—which include all Kentucky members of the genera Aneides and Plethodon—deposit their eggs in moist places on land; the eggs are brooded by the females and all larval development takes place within the eggs. Those species with aquatic larval stages are themselves quite variable;seven salamanders (Ambystoma opacum, Desmognathus spp., Hemidactylium scutatum) lay their eggs near water and the larvae become aquatic after hatching, while the others actually deposit eggs in water. Altogether, nine of Kentucky’s salamanders with aquatic larvae breed in ponds, two use swamps and/or wetlands, two utilize large streams and rivers, and 12 reproduce in springs, seeps, and headwater streams. All species of salamanders and frogs in Kentucky are predaceous as adults. All salamander larvae are also predaceous, but frog larvae (tadpoles) are herbivores.
Frogs. Of the 20 species of frogs native to Kentucky, eight species (40% of the total fauna) were selected as species with greatest conservation need (SGCN) for inclusion in the CWCS process. Six of these (barking treefrog, bird-voiced treefrog, gray treefrog, green treefrog, northern crawfish frog, and northern leopard frog) are also listed as “special concern” by KSNPC.
We have included two other species of frogs (southern leopard frog, wood frog) as SGCN species on the basis of vulnerability to extirpation from Kentucky (i.e., isolated populations located in rapidly developing areas). Southern leopard frogs in northeastern Kentucky seem to represent an isolated relict population that may be genetically distinct. Wood frogs in Fayette County along the Kentucky River Palisades are also quite isolated. Elsewhere in Kentucky, the southern leopard frog is primarily a species of wetlands and other bottomland habitats in central and western Kentucky, breeding most frequently in lowland ponds, while the wood frog is most common in forested upland habitats in eastern and southern Kentucky and breeds in ponds located in upland forests. Both the southern leopard frog and the wood frog can thus also be considered as representative species for large amphibian communities associated with various habitat types.
Salamanders. Of Kentucky’s 35 species of native salamanders, 14 species (40% of the total fauna) were selected for inclusion in our CWCS. Five (14%) are also listed as either endangered (two), threatened (one), or special concern (two) by KSNPC (eastern hellbender, northern redback salamander, three-lined salamander, three-toed amphiuma, and Wehrle’s salamander).
We have included nine other species of salamanders as SGCN species as follows: the Black Mountain salamander, Cumberland Plateau salamander, and streamside salamander are nearly endemic to Kentucky; the Allegheny Mountain salamander (cold dripping seeps) and the green salamander (crevices in shaded sandstone cliffs) are habitat specialists that occur primarily in eastern Kentucky; the four-toed salamander and the mole salamander are uncommon pond-breeding species that occur in both upland and lowland forests; the western lesser siren is primarily a wetland species; and the southern zigzag salamander is included for biogeographic reasons. Several SGCN species, including the Allegheny Mountain salamander, Black Mountain salamander, Cumberland Plateau salamander, green salamander, and some of their close relatives (i.e., northern dusky salamander, northern slimy salamander) appear to be declining or disappearing from large portions of their ranges both in Kentucky and elsewhere; this merits further investigation and better documentation.
Kentucky is an ecoregionally diverse state that transitions from alluvial and coastal plain soils, to a northern hardwood forest landscape, and to the mountains of the Cumberland Plateau. The Ohio and Mississippi Rivers form Kentucky’s northern and western borders, respectively. Other major river systems include the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers that form the Land Between the Lakes (LBL) area. Kentucky is rich in floodplain forest, upland forest, high elevation forest, grassland, riverine, and marsh habitats. Because of this diversity, Kentucky falls within four Bird Conservation Regions (BCR) under the North American Bird Conservation Initiative (NABCI). These include the following: Central Hardwoods (BCR 24) which includes most of the state; the Appalachian Mountains (BCR 28) which includes the Cumberland Mountains and Plateau; the Mississippi Alluvial Valley (BCR 26) which covers a small portion of the Jackson Purchase along the Mississippi River; and the Southeastern Coastal Plain (BCR 27) which covers most of the Jackson Purchase west of Land Between the Lakes ( Appendix 2.12 ). BCR 27 is currently in the process of being split into the East Gulf Coastal Plain sub-BCR.
Approximately 375 species of birds have been recorded in Kentucky, and of these, about 150 species regularly breed in the state (B. Palmer-Ball, pers. comm.). Taxonomically, these species can be categorized as landbirds, waterbirds, shorebirds, and waterfowl. Continental or range wide bird conservation plans have been created to cover individual or suites of species and include the Partners In Flight’s (PIF) North American Landbird Conservation Plan (NALCP; Rich et al. 2004), the United States Shorebird Conservation Plan (USSCP; Brown et al. 2001), the North American Waterbird Conservation Plan (NAWCP; Kushlan et al. 2002), the North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP; Plan Committee 2004), and the Northern Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI; Dimmick et al. 2002). Where possible, Kentucky’s CWCS follows recommendations highlighted under these continental plans and includes 81 species (Appendix 1.1). Of the 81 species, four have been extirpated as breeding birds from Kentucky: greater prairie-chicken, red-cockaded woodpecker, swallow-tailed kite, and black tern, although the black tern still occurs in the state as a transient. Three federally listed species (interior least tern, whooping crane, and bald eagle) are also included in Kentucky’s CWCS.
Landbirds. Kentucky falls under four PIF physiographic regions. These include the Appalachian Mountains, the Interior Low Plateaus, the Mississippi Alluvial Valley, and the East Gulf Coastal Plain. Maps of the physiographic regions as well as conceptual conservation plans for each region are available at the PIF website ( http://www.blm.gov/wildlife/pifplans.htm ). Avian species selected for inclusion in the CWCS were based on Kentucky’s heritage list (which is based solely on breeding birds) [Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission 2004], the NALCP, physiographic region PIF plans, USFWS Watchlist for Region 4 states (Hunter 2004), and the Central Hardwoods Venture Concept Plan (Fitzgerald et al. 2003) and includes 46 landbird species (Appendix 1.1).
Waterfowl. The North American Waterfowl Management Plan predates NABCI and, as such, planning units are based on joint ventures (JV) rather than BCRs. Kentucky falls within two JVs: the Lower Mississippi Valley JV (which covers BCRs 26 and 27 in Kentucky as well as part of BCR 24) and the Central Hardwoods JV (which covers all of BCR 24). Updates to the NAWMP and maps of the JVs can be found on the USFWS website (http://www.fws.gov/birdhabitat/nawmp/nawmphp.htm). Three species of waterfowl are included in the CWCS and are based on Kentucky’s Heritage list (Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission 2004), the NAWMP (Plan Committee 2004), and the Central Hardwoods Venture Concept Plan (Fitzgerald et al. 2003) (Appendix 1.1).
Waterbirds. Waterbirds are a diverse group of species that includes gulls, terns, pelicans, wading birds, and marsh birds. As one of the newest initiatives, the North American Waterbird Conservation Plan sets fourth a plan for conserving waterbirds and is in the process of evaluating the population status of 210 species of waterbirds that range in North and Central America. Waterbird planning regions have been established and Kentucky falls within two of these regions: the Upper Mississippi Valley/Great Lakes and the Southeast U.S. planning regions. Maps of the planning regions and version 1 of the plan are available at the Waterbird Conservation for the America’s website ( http://www.waterbirdconservation.org/ ). Eighteen species of waterbirds were selected for inclusion in Kentucky’s CWCS based on Kentucky’s heritage list (breeding birds) [Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission 2004], the USFWS Watchlist for Region 4 states (Hunter 2004), the Central Hardwoods Venture Concept Plan (Fitzgerald et al. 2003), and version 1 of the NAWCP (Kushlan et al. 2002) (Appendix 1.1).
The Class Mammalia includes >4,600 species worldwide, a fairly low diversity when compared to most other Classes in Kingdom Animalia (Whitaker and Hamilton 1998). However, mammals are distributed nearly worldwide, being found in every ocean and on every continent except Antartica (Whitaker and Hamilton 1998). According to Kays and Wilson (2002), North America (north of Mexico) is home to 442 species of mammals. The eastern United States (i.e., east of the Mississippi River) supports populations of approximately 121 species of mammals, most of which are native, although some are exotic or domestic animals that have become established (Whitaker and Hamilton 1998).
Kentucky offers a diversity of habitat types across the state, along with numerous topographies, soils, and water sources (i.e., streams, rivers, ponds, sloughs, lakes, and reservoirs). For example, elevations range from 1,262 m in the rugged mountains of southeastern Kentucky to 78 m in the Mississippi River floodplains of western Kentucky, with extremely variable types of topography and thousands of kilometers of streams in between (Jones 2005). Highly diverse plant communities occur throughout the state in accordance with each ecoregion because of changes in soil properties, soil moisture, and slope characteristics (Jones 2005). The variability in habitat types throughout Kentucky supports an interesting diversity of mammals, a diversity that encompasses mammal communities typical of the region as well as species typically found elsewhere. As examples, several animals (e.g., Rafinesque’s big-eared bat, Corynorhinus rafinesquii; swamp rabbit, Sylvilagus aquaticus) reach their northern limits in or just north of Kentucky, others (e.g., cotton mouse, Peromyscus gossypinus) are typical of southern states, western states (e.g., prairie vole, Microtus ochrogaster; coyote, Canis latrans), northern states (e.g., meadow jumping mouse, Zapus hudsonius), or even the Appalachian Mountains (e.g., Appalachian cottontail, Sylvilagus obscurus; rock shrew, Sorex dispar) (Barbour and Davis 1974, although their taxonomy differed on several species).
Mammal diversity in Kentucky has been described to varying extents. Barbour and Davis (1974) discussed 64 species of mammals in their compilation of data on Kentucky’s mammals. They only included species with recent records (i.e., not extirpated species like elk [Cervus elaphus] or American bison [Bos bison]), and taxonomy they used differed from what it is now accepted, thereby not recognizing a couple of species. Choate et al. (1994) listed 67 species for Kentucky, but included several species that have been extirpated for decades (e.g., gray and red wolves, Canis lupus and C. rufus, respectively; fisher, Martes pennati; mountain lion, Felis concolor; American bison) or species they had no records for but assumed should be present (e.g., rock vole, Microtus chrotorrhinus; porcupine, Erethizon dorsatum). In the latter category, Choate et al. (1994) did not include rock shrew, nine-banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus), pygmy shrew (Sorex hoyi), or least weasel (Mustela nivalis), species that have recently (within the last 10 years) been recorded in Kentucky.
Diversity within the mammal group is particularly high in Kentucky with regard to bats. Kentucky provides habitat for 14 species of bats, three of which are federally endangered: Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis), gray bat (Myotis grisescens), and Virginia big-eared bat (Corynorhinus townsendii virginianus). In the south-central United States, there are only 17 species of wide-ranging bats (Choate et al. 1994), and even one of those (Brazilian free-tailed bat, Tadarida brasiliensis) is an “accidental wanderer” into Kentucky (Barbour and Davis 1974). In addition to the variety of terrestrial habitats available to bats in Kentucky (e.g., upland forests, riparian corridors, forested wetlands, etc.), subterranean Karst caves and sinkholes are numerous, and scattered throughout the state. These caves and sinkholes offer breeding sites for gray bats and Virginia big-eared bats, but also provide important hibernacula for numerous species of bats that migrate from other states in the region. Unfortunately, disturbance and harassment of bats in caves has been a major factor and likely has contributed to decline in many species.
Although it appears that a wealth of knowledge on Kentucky’s mammal community exists, there is still much to learn. Studies within the last decade funded solely or in part by Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources have expanded our knowledge about many species of mammals. A longer-term statewide small mammal survey provided us distribution and abundance information on 29 species, many of which we knew very little. Concerted survey efforts for Appalachian cottontails showed the species was not isolated solely to the most rugged portions of southeastern Kentucky, but instead was found throughout much of eastern Kentucky and even extended into the “Knobs” portion of central Kentucky. Trapping efforts for American black bears (Ursus americanus) and Allegheny woodrats (Neotoma magister) have provided valuable population and distribution information for these species. Despite all of the information these projects have provided us, there is still a wealth of information to be gained. Overall, we have a very poor understanding of the effects of land use practices on mammal communities, and most importantly, population status of most mammal species in Kentucky. Through our strategy, we hope to initiate numerous research and survey projects to help answer the questions we have about mammal diversity and abundance in Kentucky, especially as it pertains to our priority mammal species (see Appendix 3.2).
The reptiles (Class Reptilia) include about 6,300 species worldwide (Conant and Collins 1991); the largest subgroups are the lizards (about 3,700) and the snakes (about 2,300) species. The turtles (more than 240 species) are included with the reptiles here, but recent studies have shown that these animals are distinct from all other reptiles and form a separate class. At the present time, 56 species of reptiles are known to occur in Kentucky (9 lizards, 33 snakes, and 14 turtles). The most recent comprehensive treatment dealing with Kentucky’s reptile fauna is that of Barbour (1971), but much of the information contained there is unclear and/or out of date. The most reliable sources that are currently available include Ernst et al. 1994 for turtles, Ernst and Ernst (2003) and Meade (2005) for snakes, and Conant and Collins (1991) and Minton (2001) for all reptiles. Aside from these widely available published materials, much additional information on Kentucky’s reptiles and amphibians has been pulled from a variety of less well-known sources (e.g., university and museum collections, unpublished reports, theses, dissertations, journal articles, and biologists’ observations and field notes) and entered into databases that are being used to track species occurrences and population trends, create up-to-date species distribution maps, and compile state-specific life history information for the ongoing revision of Amphibians and Reptiles of Kentucky (J.R. MacGregor, in progress). The most significant of these include: (1) the comprehensive herpetological data base that is being developed and maintained by the biological staff at East Kentucky Power Cooperative (EKPC); (2) the amphibian and reptile sections of the Kentucky Natural Heritage database housed at Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission (KSNPC); and (3) the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Information System (KFWIS) database housed at KDFWR.
Eighteen reptile species (32% of the Kentucky fauna including three lizards, 12 snakes, and three turtles) are currently tracked by KSNPC; 27 species (four lizards, 17 snakes, and six turtles) were selected for our CWCS for various conservation reasons (see Appendix 2.1). Most of our reptiles are native, but at least one species (common wall-lizard) is a European exotic that has been introduced into northern Kentucky. The eastern coachwhip, a snake found historically in the Park City area of west-central Kentucky, has not been seen within the state for many years and was possibly an introduced species as well (note: we included it in our CWCS because of its’ unclear history in the state).
Kentucky’s reptiles occur in a wide variety of habitats. In general, the lizards tend to prefer dry, open areas although a few species (e.g., five-lined skinks) sometimes occur in damp woodlands as well. The snakes form a highly variable group from a habitat perspective, but virtually all species require some degree of openness if they are to survive in heavily forested areas. Most Kentucky turtles (13 of 14) are primarily aquatic and leave the water only to make overland migrations between water bodies or to lay their eggs; only 1 species (eastern box turtle) is terrestrial. All of Kentucky’s lizards and snakes are carnivorous; most turtles are more omnivorous as adults and largely carnivorous as hatchlings, but the map turtles (genus Graptemys) feed almost completely on invertebrates and fishes.
Lizards. Four of Kentucky’s nine lizard species (44% of the total fauna) were selected for our CWCS. Three of these (coal skink, southeastern five-lined skink, and eastern slender glass lizard) are also listed as either threatened or special concern by KSNPC. The six-lined racerunner has been added here because the lack of recent records indicates that a number of populations have been lost and much of its habitat has essentially disappeared from the landscape.
Snakes. Seventeen of Kentucky’s 33 species of snakes (52% of the total fauna) were selected for our CWCS. Eleven species (33% of the snake fauna), including the broad-banded water snake, copperbelly water snake, corn snake, eastern ribbon snake, Kirtland’s snake, Mississippi green water snake, northern pine snake, scarlet kingsnake, western mud snake, western pigmy rattlesnake, and western ribbon snake, are listed as either endangered, threatened, or special concern by KSNPC. One additional snake (eastern coachwhip) has not been seen here since the early 1970’s and has likely been extirpated, but there is evidence that the Kentucky population may have originated from a now-defunct roadside reptile zoo and thus the coachwhip may not have been native.
Five additional snakes have been added to the list due to conservation concerns. Recent records are very sparse for northern scarlet snakes and southeastern crowned snakes; both species have apparently disappeared from many areas where they once could be found with some regularity. Western cottonmouths and diamondback water snakes seem to have declined in both range and numbers in the coal-mining areas of western Kentucky. The timber rattlesnake appears to have stable numbers in Kentucky but is known to be declining in numerous other states within its range. Regular monitoring of timber rattlesnake numbers and habitat use within Kentucky is essential so that the rangewide status of the species can be ascertained and consistently tracked.
Turtles. Six of Kentucky’s 14 turtles species (43% of the fauna) are included within our CWCS. Three of these—the alligator snapping turtle, midland smooth softshell, and southern painted turtle—are listed as either threatened or special concern by KSNPC. Three additional turtles (false map turtle, Mississippi map turtle, and mud turtle) have been added as CWCS species for conservation reasons. The two map turtles are largely restricted to western Kentucky rivers and are limited by the scarcity of suitable nesting habitat (natural sand bars). Mud turtle populations in central Kentucky occur in wetland complexes that have developed in natural sinkhole ponds and appear to have declined seriously in recent decades as more development has taken place within their limited ranges.
Barbour, R.W., 1971. Amphibians & reptiles of Kentucky. University Press of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky.
Barbour, R.W., Davis, W.H.. Mammals of Kentucky. 1974. Lexington, Kentucky, University Press of Kentucky.
Brown, S., Hickey, C., Harrington, B., Gill, R.. The U.S. Shorebird Conservation Plan . 2001. Manomet, Massachusetts, Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences. Brown, S, Hickey, C., Harrington, B., and Gill, R.
Burr, B.M., L. M. Page 1986. Zoogeography of fishes of the lower Ohio-upper Mississippi Basin. Pages 287-324 in C. H. Hocutt, E. O. Wiley editors. The Zoogeography of North American Freshwater Fishes. Wiley Interscience, New York..
Burr, B.M., Warren, M.L.Jr., 1986. A Distributional Atlas of Kentucky Fishes. Volume Number 4 . Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission Scientific and Technical Series.
Butler, R.S., Kessler, R., J. B. Harrel, 2003. Down by the Green River. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Endangered Species Bulletin 28:20-21.
Ceas, P.A., Page, L.M., 1997. Systematic studies of the Etheostoma spectabile complex (Percidae; subgenus Oligocephalus), with descriptions of four species. Copeia496-522.
Choate, J.R., Jones Jr., J.K., Jones, C.. Handbook of mammals of the south-central states. 1994. Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Louisiana State University Press.
Cicerello, R.R., M. L. Warren, Jr., G.A. Schuster, 1991. A distributional checklist of the freshwater unionids (Bivalvia:Unionoidea) of Kentucky. American Malacological Bulletin 8:113-129.
Conant, R., Collins J.T.. A field guide to reptiles and amphibians. Eastern and Central North America. 450 . 1991. Boston, MA, Houghton Mifflin Company.
Dimmick, R.W., Gudlin, M.J., McKenzie, F.M.. The northern bobwhite conservation initiative. 2002. South Carolina, Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.
Ernst, C.H., Ernst, E.M.. Snakes of the United States and Canada. 668 pp. 2003. Washington and London, Smithsonian Books.
Ernst, C.H., Lovich J.E, Barbour, R.W.. Turtles of the United States and Canada. 578 pp. 1994. Washington and London, Smithsonian Institution Press.
Fitzgerald, J.A., Wathen, G., Howery, M.D., Lisowsky, W.P., McKenzie, D.F., Pashley, D.N.. The Central Hardwoods Joint Venture Concept Plan. 2003. Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.
Hunter, C.. 2004. Notes: Personal communication
Jones, R.L., 2005. Plant life of Kentucky: an illustrated guide to the vascular flora. The University Press of Kentucky, Lexington, KY.
Kays, R., Wilson, D.E., 2002. Mammals of North America. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.
Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission . Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission Database. 2004. Kentucky State Nature Preserve Commission . 2004.
Notes: Data printouts
Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission. Rare and extirpated biota of Kentucky. KSNPC. World Wide Web . 2004. November 17th, 2004.
Kushlan, J.A., Steinkamp, M.J., Parsons, K.C., Capp, J., Acosta Cruz, M., Coulter, M., Davidson, I., Dickson, L., Edelson, N., Elliot, R., Erwin, R.M., Hatch, S., Kress, S., Milko, R., Miller, S., Mills, K., Paul, R. , Phillips, R., Saliva, J.E., Sydeman, B., Trapp, J., Wheeler, J., Wohl, K.. Waterbird Conservation for the Americas: The North American Waterbird Conservation Plan. 2002. Washington, D.C., USA, Waterbird Conservation for the Americas.
Lydeard, C., R. L. Mayden, 1995. A diverse and endangered aquatic ecosystem of the southeast United States. Conservation Biology 4:800-805.
Meade, L.E.. Kentucky Snakes: Their Identification, Variation and Distribution. 322pp. 2005. Frankfort, Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission.
Minton, S.A.. Amphibians and Reptiles of Indiana. 404 pp. 2001. Indianapolis, IN., Indiana Academy of Science.
North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP), P.C.. North American Waterfowl Management Plan 2004. Strategic Guidance: Strengthening the Biological Foundation. 2004. Canadian Wildlife Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Secretaria de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales.
Parmalee, P.W., Bogan, A.E.. The freshwater mussels of Tennessee. 1998. Knoxville, Tennessee, University of Tennessee Press.
Parmalee, P.W., Kippel, W.E., Bogan, A.E.. Notes on the prehistoric and present status of the Naiad fauna of the middle Cumberland River, Smith County, Tennessee. Nautilus 94, pages 93-105. 1980.
Petranka, J.W., 1998. Salamanders of the United States and Canada. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C.
Whitaker, J.O., Hamilton Jr., W.J.. Mammals of the eastern United States. 1998. Ithaca, New York, USA and London, England, UK, Cornell University Press.
Williams, J.C., G.A. Schuster. Freshwater mussel investigations of the Ohio River. 1989. Frankfort, KY., Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.
Williams, J.D., Warren Jr., M.L., Cummings, K.S. , Harris, J.L., Neves, R.J.. Conservation Status of Freshwater Mussels of the United States and Canada. Fisheries 18 (9), pages 6-22. 1993.
Volume III builds upon previous work by examining conservation issues, conservation actions, and monitoring strategies for the 301 Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) identified in Volume II. All of Elements 3 and 4 are addressed as well as significant portions of Element 5. The Conservation Issues and Habitat Guilds sections of each Species Account were populated using information developed in Volume III. These data were also used for Priority Conservation Area mapping in Volume IV. The following sections describe the processes used by our Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy (CWCS) Team to determine appropriate Conservation Issues and Actions for each species. We also explain the reasoning behind our grouping of species into habitat guilds. A section on Adaptive Management is included under ‘Monitoring’ to explain how Kentucky will utilize these principles to modify future versions of this Plan. The Adaptive Management principles developed here were also utilized in Volume IV when specific Conservation Actions were identified for Priority Conservation Areas.
Biologists on the CWCS team have long been cognizant of a myriad of conservation issues affecting fish and wildlife species in Kentucky. Their challenge with developing a strategy was to reach consensus on a comprehensive list of these issues. To accomplish this, the CWCS team members divided into 2 groups: an aquatic team and a terrestrial team. These teams met on several occasions to develop a list of conservation issues affecting the 301 SGCN. Once the two lists were developed, all team members met to develop a combined list, while correcting redundancies and various terminologies. A total of 79 state conservation issues were the result (Appendix 3.1). Conservation issues affecting each species were also listed in the species accounts in Volume II. As directed in Element 3, biologists developed priority research and survey needs that will be required to more fully understand the conservation issues faced by Kentucky’s SGCN (Appendix 3.2). The research and survey needs were designed for multiple scales (landscape or site-specific), include both habitat and population based efforts, address public awareness and education concerns, and are organized by taxonomic group. The conservation issues listed in Appendix 3.1 were organized to allow cross referencing with conservation actions developed by the CWCS team. These conservation actions were developed in subsequent meetings to address each of the 79 conservation issues. All conservation actions developed by the CWCS team are listed in Appendix 3.3.
Assigning conservation actions to habitat guilds worked well for nearly all SGCN across taxonomic classes. However, some important taxa specific actions did not apply to all species in a guild. An example would be working internationally for neotropical migratory bird issues. The CWCS Team developed an additional list (Appendix 3.4) of conservation actions that have unique applications. Conservation Actions were assigned to taxonomic groups instead of guilds when:
As previously described, conservation issues were identified for each SGCN. However, the CWCS Team recognized that specific conservation actions realistically applied to more than one issue and affected many SGCN that utilize similar habitat associations. Additionally, species using similar habitats are also subject to similar issues. For these reasons we elected to group species into habitat guilds and then assign conservation actions that address the full suite of conservation issues for the entire guild. Prioritization of conservation actions was accomplished at the guild level instead of species level.
The CWCS Team defined “guild” as a collection of species that occur in the same habitat. Guilds were developed separately for aquatic and terrestrial species, i.e., terrestrial guilds do not contain mussel, fish, or lamprey species. A total of 20 habitat guilds were defined; 10 aquatic and 10 terrestrial (Appendix 3.5). We elected to format this information as Habitat Guild Accounts. Each Account includes a description of the habitat, a list of species occurring in that guild, and a ranking of the most important conservation actions for that guild.
The Aquatic Habitat Guild Accounts are given in Appendix 3.6. Each guild type was based primarily on the ichthyofaunal habitat classification system developed by Burr and Warren (1986). Modifications to this system are explained within each account. Using distributional information about aquatic SGCN, we developed categories based on topographic position (upland vs. lowland habitats), stream flow, substrate, and size of channel (riverine system) that would include the full spectrum of aquatic habitats known to support these aquatic species of concern. These Aquatic Habitat Guilds were then used to assign conservation actions based on issues facing individual SGCN.
Aquatic taxonomic group experts developed a list of ‘Top 10’ conservation actions for each guild. Objectives were developed for the entire aquatic group rather than for each guild. The 3 major conservation objectives that apply to all 10 aquatic guilds are given in Appendix 3.7. Under each major objective is a prioritized list of conservation actions with their associated performance measures.
The Terrestrial Habitat Guild Accounts are given in Appendix 3.8. Terrestrial Habitat Guilds were based mainly on the major plant communities found in Kentucky, which have been described in great detail by a number of authors. We followed the general description of major plant communities provided by Jones (2005) with minor modifications. For example, we combined Jones’ “Swamp Forest” and “Floodplain Forest” to create our “Forested Wetland” guild forming a more functional terrestrial habitat guild. We recognized that Kentucky contains many transitional, or intermediate, communities based on subtle changes in soil, moisture, and topography (Jones 2005), but believe we thoroughly represented the breadth of terrestrial habitats and their associated faunal diversity. A single species often occurs in more than one guild, indicating that it may be found in the major guilds or the transition zones between guilds. Additionally, some of the Terrestrial Habitat Guilds are based primarily on unique physical features rather than plant communities (e.g., Running Water; Standing Water; Caves, Rock Shelters, and Clifflines; Urban/Suburban) although their plant communities are often unique as well.
Experts for each of the terrestrial taxonomic groups worked together and assigned a ranked list of ‘Top 10’ conservation actions for each guild. Actions were then organized into objectives and performance measures were developed for each objective. Other conservation actions relevant to a guild but not appearing as ‘Top 10’ are also listed where appropriate. For each of the 10 terrestrial guilds there may be multiple conservation objectives. Each objective has multiple conservation actions.
In the preceding sections we identified the conservation issues facing Kentucky’s SGCN and prioritized conservation actions to address those issues within the context of habitat guilds. Based on existing conditions and best professional judgment each taxonomic group developed conservation actions to address stresses affecting species and ecological systems. As directed by Element 5, we now develop monitoring plans designed to evaluate populations and habitats of SGCN as well as the effectiveness of conservation actions. Monitoring plans are targeted to address the strategy conservation priorities and to test the assumptions made through identifying appropriate stresses and actions. Our intent was to build a monitoring package comprehensive enough to meet the needs of the Strategy and still be easily evaluated and modified as needed. For many species, prior to engaging in a comprehensive terrestrial monitoring effort statewide mapping and inventory data must be conducted to determine the state of species and habitats throughout Kentucky. In this context, survey and research needs are the first steps in our monitoring efforts.
The USFS has recently developed a comprehensive plan for the Daniel Boone National Forest (2004) that included monitoring. KDFWR was an active participant in that effort and significant portions of the USFS Plan are relevant to the CWCS process. According to the USFS there are three types of monitoring efforts that should be used in order to truly determine the state of habitats or species.
The USFS Recommendations on Monitoring Terrestrial Animal Species and Their Habitats (2004) was used with some slight modifications, these components should address the needs of KDFWR and its partners.
Critical Elements for Successful Monitoring in Kentucky
With these principles in mind, Aquatic and Terrestrial CWCS Team members developed the monitoring strategies given in Appendix 3.9. These strategies were identified as ‘existing’ or ‘new’, population or habitat based, and organized by taxonomic group. Monitoring was constructed to work in conjunction with the priority research and survey needs identified in Appendix 3.2. Many research and survey needs are designed to gather baseline habitat and population information for SGCN. These data will be managed through the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Information System and be made available for evaluation in the context of longer term monitoring to judge the effectiveness of conservation actions and objectives.
It is both strategically and operationally difficult to maintain a monitoring effort that meets the needs of all species and habitats. A strong program would include the use and interaction of targeted, context, and cause and effect monitoring. However, there are real financial and personnel limitations existing in the Department and partners. It is impossible to monitor every SGCN in Kentucky based these limitations; therefore monitoring plans are largely focused on habitats that indicate the overall conditions for SGCN. All data collected during these monitoring efforts must be based on sound research design and appropriate statistical methodology regardless of who or what organization is collecting data. This will allow KDFWR to use monitoring data to populate the KFWIS Database that can be shared without fear of providing an inferior or ineffective product to partners.
After developing the priority monitoring, research, and survey needs (Appendix 3.2 and Appendix 3.9) 6 conservation action categories were apparent. These are explained below and an example is given.
These conservation action categories provide a framework to organize the many individual actions and objectives developed by the CWCS Team. This organizational framework also allows examination of actions in the broader context of partnerships, long-term funding, and adaptive management. Partnerships are critical to the successful implementation of Kentucky’s Strategy. Our strategy is ambitious and wide ranging. Success will require working with agencies at all levels of government, industry, private land owners, and non-government organizations such as The Nature Conservancy. Nearly all conservation actions and objectives as well as research and survey projects will require significant cooperation to put into practice. Additional and non-traditional funding sources will be needed in order to provide the staff, equipment, and incentives required to put the full force of this Strategy in place. It will be extremely difficult to apply many aspects of this plan if future implementation monies under current legislation remain at a 50:50 State/Federal match
In an adaptive approach to monitoring policies are treated as experiments. (Walters 1986, 1997). We acknowledge the many unknowns but strive for optimal system return with information feedback along the way (Williams et al. 2002). In other words, we do the best we can given what we know and try to learn along the way.
In general, an adaptive decision-making and monitoring scheme (Williams et al. 2002) entails several components, including:
Taxonomic experts developed monitoring plans that will be used to determine the effectiveness of conservation actions and as a feedback mechanism for the adaptive management process. CWCS Team members were frequently faced with uncertainty. Lack of baseline data made the process of identifying appropriate stressors and actions ambiguous at times. Many stressors operate on the landscape simultaneously. Measuring the response of a stress to a specific action can take decades in some cases. Ultimately, many decisions were based on the best professional judgment of our experts, not a strict examination of data. With this in mind, we recognized the need to incorporate adaptive management as an integral part of this strategy to improve upon our current efforts.
We are committed to developing a database to aid in tracking progress and evaluating our successes and failures. Guidance from IAFWA (2003) was used to conceptualize the framework for this database (Appendix 3.10). Targets for tracking will be structured around the 6 conservation action categories (or goals) with the prioritized conservation actions, research, and surveys already identified. A geographic component will be included to incorporate the Priority Conservation Areas identified in Volume IV (sections 4.3, 4.4, and 4.5). Adopting this structure ensures scheduled review and evaluation of the Strategy at many levels. It also provides the mechanism for incorporating new information and adapting our efforts accordingly.
Implementation of the Strategy will not be a precise process; there are many unknowns that are not under the control of resource managers. Therefore, planning must acknowledge the dynamic nature of ecological systems and associated scientific and social uncertainties, be cognizant of the inherent variability of natural processes, acknowledge adverse cumulative effects of management actions, and preserve options for future generations. The Strategy is intended to incorporate new information in a timely fashion so that mistakes are not repeated and practical solutions are quickly identified. Employing principles of adaptive management and tracking the Strategy progress are critical components for success.
International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Teaming With Wildlife Committee. .Resources for development of state Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Plans. 2003. http://www.teaming.com/pdf/6%20Monitoring%20Success.pdf
Walters, C., 1986. Adaptive management of renewable resources. Macmillan, New York, New York.
Walters, C., 1997. Challenges in adaptive management of riparian and Coastal ecosystems. Conservation Ecology 1:1.
Williams, B.K., Nichols, J.D., Conroy, M.J., 2002. Analysis and management of animal populations. Academic Press, San Diego, California.
Volume IV identifies spatially explicit geographic areas for the purpose of focusing conservation efforts that benefit the largest number of Species with Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN). These areas represent Priority Conservation Areas (PCA’s) within Kentucky. Volume IV addresses part of the requirements of Element 2 by identifying the location of key habitat areas for each taxonomic group and all SGCN combined. The location and condition of key habitat areas was also identified for each species in Volume II under the Species Accounts. Locations listed in Volume II were site specific in that counties, United States Geological Survey (USGS) quadrangles, stream reaches, etc. were listed. This approach differs from Volume II by locating landscape level areas that harbor large numbers of SGCN. The species occurrence records used to generate maps in Volume II formed the primary data source for identifying conservation areas in Volume IV. The following sections explain the methodology used, sources of information used, conservation areas for each taxonomic group, and finally the PCA’s for all taxonomic groups combined.
The KY-CWCS Team examined several methods and data sources for locating PCA’s within the state. Relational database management systems (SQL Server and Access; Microsoft Corporation; Redmond, WA) and Geographic Information Systems (GIS; ArcView 3.2 and ARCGIS 9.0; ESRI, Redlands, CA) were used to organize and analyze these data for all species and groups of species. A wide variety of data sources across species groups at various spatial scales were available for analysis. Initial examination of all these sources quickly revealed that simply ‘throwing’ all data into a GIS produced more noise than useful information. A methodology was developed that allowed these data layers to be utilized in a systematic manner but also allowed for significant input from species experts during the process (Appendix 4.1). This ‘bottom-up’ approach uses species occurrence data from Volume II as the base to build the analysis. Only occurrence records dated 1984 or later were used for determining PCA’s. This approach allowed flexibility in selection of a species or species group, level of detail for species occurrence records (i.e., point, quad, or county level), spatial unit (e.g., watershed or Ecoregion), and a numeric index to quantify the results (species richness and/or rarity).
Species data were organized taxonomically by Class and categorically into aquatic and terrestrial groups. The spatial units for examining occurrence data differed between aquatic and terrestrial groups. For aquatic species 8-digit (larger watersheds) and 14 digit (smaller watersheds) USGS hydrologic units were used (United States Geological Survey, 2001a; United States Geological Survey 2001b). Level IV Ecoregions (Woods et al. 2002) formed the spatial basis for terrestrial species. Some hand digitized areas were included for mammals and birds (see following sections).
Richness of SGCN was used as the primary index for all taxonomic groups regardless of the spatial unit. Rarity of individual SGCN was also used by the Fishes and Lamprey’s Team to select some watersheds. Maps that depicted SGCN richness were generated by combining species occurrence records with spatial units. Taxonomic experts examined these maps to aid in selecting important conservation areas for each group. After all taxonomic conservation areas were selected they were analyzed to identify areas within the state where overlap occurred between groups. Regions of highest overlap were identified as Tier I Priority Conservation Areas. Specific methodology and results are covered for each taxonomic group in the following sections.
Relational database and GIS tools were created to give biologists the ability to examine other data sets such as predicted habitat suitability from the Kentucky GAP Analysis Project (Wethington et al. 2003) and large forest block data developed by the Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission (KSNPC). These tools varied slightly between taxonomic groups to accommodate biologic differences between groups, data availability, data quality, and existing prioritization systems (e.g., Partners in Flight focus areas). Predictive vertebrate models developed by KY-GAP were used to examine where significant overlap of suitable habitat for SGCN occurred. This approach provided a valuable tool for terrestrial taxonomic groups but aquatic species were not modeled by KY-GAP. Also, some terrestrial models were lacking important recent information. For example, KY-GAP coded reclaimed surface mines as unsuitable for golden-wing warblers yet recent surveys have shown this type of habitat to be valuable for these birds (Shawchyi Vorisek, pers.comm). We also included priority or focus areas already determined by partners in Kentucky.
Species occurrence data were used to generate SGCN richness maps at the 14-digit and 8-digit hydrologic unit (watershed) levels for both the fish and mussel taxonomic groups. The USGS hydrologic units at the 8-digit (large watershed units) and 14-digit (small watershed unit) were selected because they are watershed based. Since aquatic species are influenced by any action upstream, we chose the 8-digit units as the first priority boundary. These are the appropriate size to allow conservation actions to be implemented in a broader area that includes areas both upstream and downstream of important sites. The larger 8-digit watersheds often cross political boundaries and allow managers from multiple agencies to coordinate conservation actions. Smaller 14-digit watersheds were selected to represent the best areas within the larger 8-digit watershed. These 14-digit units are areas of high species diversity where managers can focus conservation actions and conduct site-specific research, monitoring, and management. Both the 8-and 14-digit watersheds were prioritized based on the SGCN richness. The 8-digit watershed with the highest richness was examined first. The remaining hydrologic units were included until at least 80% of all aquatic SGCN were included.
Mussel SGCN richness maps were inspected to determine the location of important watersheds (Appendix 4.2, Appendix 4.3). Nine 8-digit watersheds were identified as Mussel Conservation Areas (Appendix 4.4). A total of 36 mussel SGCN occurred in these 9 watersheds (Appendix 4.5). These included the following watersheds in order of priority by species diversity: Upper Green, Barren River, Upper Cumberland-Lake Cumberland, South Fork Cumberland, Rockcastle River, Licking River, Ohio Brush-Whiteoak, Rolling Fork, and Lower Tennessee and Lower Ohio Rivers. The Upper Green and Barren Rivers contain 23 bivalve SGCN (52% of all SGCN). The Green River has been identified nationally as an important area for freshwater mussel conservation and the most biologically rich branch of the Ohio River system (Master et al. 1998). Several federally endangered species are found throughout many of these areas and some of the best populations are also contained within these watersheds.
Fishes and Lampreys SGCN richness maps were inspected to determine the location of important watersheds (Appendix 4.6, Appendix 4.7). A total of 10 8-digit watersheds that contained at least 5 SGCN were identified as Fish and Lamprey Conservation Areas (Appendix 4.8). A total of 50 (85%) SGCN occurred in these watersheds (Appendix 4.9). The top 5 of these watersheds included: Obion Creek (15 SGCN); Upper Green River (10 SGCN); South Fork Cumberland River (9 SGCN); Lower Mississippi Memphis (8 total SGCN); and Barren River (8 SGCN).
Fourteen 8-digit watersheds were identified for the aquatic group; 5 of these overlap for both mussels and fishes, 5 were fish only and 4 were mussel only (Appendix 4.10). Two 8-digit hydrologic units were combined (Lower Ohio and Lower Tennessee) where the fauna was similar enough to be considered a single management unit. The highest priority watersheds included 5 overlapping 8-digit watersheds and one non-overlapping 8-digit watersheds (Appendix 4.11). The non-overlapping watershed (Obion Creek) was included as high priority because it contained the highest fish diversity. These included from West to East; Obion Creek (non-overlapping), Lower Tennessee and Lower Ohio Rivers, Barren River, Upper Green River, South Fork Cumberland, and Rockcastle River. Lower priority watersheds included the 8 remaining non-overlapping 8-digit watersheds identified in the bivalve and fish priority sections.
Determining conservation areas for terrestrial species presented several challenges to the CWCS Team. The most significant issues were selecting a consistent spatial unit and the lack of occurrence data for most terrestrial species (Appendix 2.7). A watershed approach was not used as with aquatic species because terrestrial species range across the landscape and are not confined to waterways (Eastern Hellbender is an exception). SGCN Richness was examined at several spatial scales that included county, USGS quadrangle, USGS ¼ quadrangle, and Level IV Ecoregion. After considerable deliberation, the Terrestrial CWCS Team used Level IV Ecoregions as the basic mapping unit. This allowed implementation of landscape level management practices and accommodated the lack of quality point occurrence records.
The reptile and amphibian groups had particularly low numbers of occurrence data. Many reptile and amphibian SGCN were not tracked by the Heritage Program (Appendix 2.2). Most data for these species are still in paper form. A large number of occurrence records exist for birds (Appendix 2.7) but selecting conservation areas remained difficult. Filtering breeding records from transient and/or accidental records was not always possible. Also, concentration of bird occurrence records was directly related to the location of existing monitoring stations, not necessarily the location of important conservation areas. Given these were the best available data, combined with species expert knowledge, the Terrestrial Team examined SGCN richness maps for Level IV Ecoregions and modified these as needed to make the best possible representation statewide conservation areas.
Species occurrence data for all amphibian SGCN were extremely sparse (Appendix 2.7). This was particularly true for amphibians not tracked by the Heritage Program at Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission (KSNPC). For this reason only occurrence records for species monitored by KSNPC were used to generate richness values. The map of these richness values by Level IV Ecoregion (Appendix 4.12) revealed that diversity within this group was concentrated in the western 1/3 of Kentucky resulting in the selection of 10 ecoregions. In order to include species not monitored by KSNPC 2 additional areas were added. These were the Cumberland Mountain Thrust Block Level IV Ecoregion and a small, but important, area in northern Kentucky. The final Amphibian Conservation Area map (Appendix 4.13) included occurrence records for all amphibian SGCN (Appendix 4.14).
More species occurrence records were available for birds than any other taxonomic group (Appendix 2.7). As previously discussed, interpreting these data made selecting conservation areas difficult. The Level IV Ecoregion richness map (Appendix 4.15) generated using all bird SGCN did not match well with biologist knowledge of important areas. We therefore divided the entire bird group into three sub-groups: Forest Birds, Grassland Birds, and Wetland Birds (Appendix 4.16). This classification scheme closely mimics the Central Hardwoods Joint Venture Concept Plan (Fitzgerald et al. 2003). Conservation areas were identified for each of these sub-groups and then combined to generate the overall bird conservation area. The process for identifying conservation areas for each sub-group of birds is described below.
Conservation areas for Forest Birds were created using a myriad of techniques and data layers. Occurrence records for this sub-group were inspected in relation to Level IV Ecoregion, KSNPC Large Forest Block data, focus areas from the Central Hardwoods Joint Venture Concept Plan (Fitzgerald et al. 2003), and KY-GAP predicted distributions. The resulting Forestland Bird conservation areas map (Appendix 4.17) was based almost entirely on Ecoregion boundaries (with slight modifications to include contiguous forest blocks) and the addition of the Licking River watershed.
Data used to generate conservation areas for Grassland Birds included focus areas for grassland birds identified in the Central Hardwoods Joint Venture Concept Plan (Fitzgerald et al. 2003), KY-GAP vegetation and predicted distribution, and maps created by KSNPC indicating areas where native grasslands most likely occurred in 1793 (KSNPC). The Bird conservation areas for Grasslands (Appendix 4.18) was a mixture of ecoregional boundaries and hand digitized polygons to include reclaimed surface mine areas, concentrations of species occurrence records, and other important grassland areas known to biologists.
Conservation areas for Wetland Birds were determined by inspecting KY-GAP vegetation and predicted distribution, focus areas identified in the Central Hardwoods Joint Venture Concept Plan (Fitzgerald et al. 2003), KDFWR survey data, and wetland inventory data (Kentucky Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet, 2002). The final Bird conservation areas for Wetlands map (Appendix 4.19) consisted primarily of Ecoregion boundaries in western Kentucky, the Ohio River corridor, the Licking River watershed, and, polygons around important wetland areas and public waters.
To determine areas in Kentucky most important to all avian SGCN, we combined the three bird sub-group conservation area maps to find areas of overlap (Appendix 4.20). These overlap areas represented the highest priority, as projects to benefit all three groups could be implemented. Species occurrence records for 71 of the 78 (91%) extant bird SGCN fell within these areas (Appendix 4.14). The overlap areas for the bird sub-groups were used in later analysis to determine conservation areas for terrestrial groups and all CWCS taxonomic groups. (See Terrestrial Conservation Areas and Combined Priority Areas for Terrestrial and Aquatic Taxonomic Groups)
Examination of SGCN richness by Level IV Ecoregion for mammals (Appendix 4.21) revealed distinct differences in diversity between eastern and western portions of the state. High-elevation species and numerous species of bats accounted for the importance of areas in the east while 2 species (i.e., cotton mouse and swamp rabbit) were restricted to western portions of Kentucky. The ecologic importance of karst topography present in south-central Kentucky was not reflected by the SGCN richness map in Appendix 4.21. Portions of 6 different ecoregions converge here making the choice of important ecoregions very difficult. We therefore hand digitized a polygon based on all mammalian SGCN occurrence data and known locations of hibernacula (i.e., caves) for bats identified as SGCN. This karst region includes Mammoth Cave National Park and a significant portion of the Middle Green River identified by the Aquatic CWCS Team as highly diverse. This ecologically unique landscape is important to numerous other invertebrates not addressed in this CWCS version. For example, there are at least 15 crayfish with distribution records very near or within our Karst Conservation Area (Taylor and Schuster 2004), and the federally endangered Kentucky Cave Shrimp (Palaemonias ganteri) is endemic to the Green River within this area. Given the diversity of the Green River, the abundance of caves and sinkholes, and the overall uniqueness of habitats within this karst region, it is very likely that other invertebrates found here will warrant consideration as SGCN in future versions of CWCS. Overall, the conservation areas for mammalian SGCN (Appendix 4.22) contained occurrence records for all species in this taxonomic group (Appendix 4.14).
Selection of reptile conservation areas was similar to that of amphibians. Again, only occurrence records for KSNPC monitored species were used to generate a Level IV Ecoregion richness map (Appendix 4.23). As with amphibians, the western 1/3 of Kentucky was most important to these species (Appendix 4.12). The remaining reptilian SGCN were included by adding the Southwestern Appalachians Plateau Escarpment Ecoregion in southeastern Kentucky. Overall, the conservation areas for reptilian SGCN (Appendix 4.24) contained occurrence records for all species in this taxonomic group (Appendix 4.14).
Conservation Areas for each terrestrial taxonomic group were combined to determine areas of overlap (Appendix 4.25). All taxonomic group conservation areas intersected in far western Kentucky and in the south central karst region of Kentucky. Other areas containing conservation areas for at least 3 groups included the lower Ohio River, portions of the Tradewater River, and Lake Cumberland.
The 6 Conservation Area maps created for each taxonomic class provided landscape level information about important areas for each group. This approach is beneficial in that it helps ensure that our strategy addresses the geographic diversity of SGCN. The difficulty is that a simple overlap of all taxonomic conservation areas does little to prioritize or focus where actions are implemented. Ideally, specific geographic areas could be identified where conservation efforts could benefit the maximum number of taxonomic groups and SGCN. This subset of all conservation areas would then represent our overall CWCS Priority Conservation Areas (PCA’s).
Our first step in locating PCA’s was to overlap conservation areas for all taxonomic groups. Each taxonomic conservation area (6 total) was assigned a value of 1 and then all were summed together. A map was created to illustrate the overlapping of taxonomic conservation areas (Appendix 4.26). Regions with values of 6 indicate that at least some species from all 6 taxonomic groups are likely to occur there. The portions of Kentucky with at least 1 taxonomic conservation area totaled 21,249,578 acres or approximately 82% of the state (Appendix 4.27). Nearly 68% of the state was a conservation area for 1, 2, or 3 groups while only 14% showed overlap for 4 or more groups. To narrow our focus we inspected areas where values of 4, 5, and 6 occurred. We observed that these higher values tended to cluster together into 3 distinct geographic regions. These 3 areas became our Tier I PCA’s. We created 3 different polygons around each clustering of values 4, 5, and 6 and tentatively named them (Appendix 4.26). From west to east they are; 1) Mississippi-Ohio Valley Plains (MOVP) Conservation Area or Purchase Region, Interior Low Plateau Karst (ILPK) Conservation Area or Green and Barren Rivers, and the Southwestern Appalachian Plateau (SWAP) Conservation Area or Upper Cumberland River.
We generated a list of known SGCN occurrences from the KFWIS database that fell within the boundaries of each Tier I PCA (Appendix 4.28). With these data we calculated an overall SGCN richness for each Tier I PCA and richness by taxonomic class (Appendix 4.29). With this information we hoped to prioritize within the Tier I PCA’s themselves. The MOVP was the most SGCN rich (149), followed by the ILPK (133), and the SWAP (104). Richness of SGCN indicates the total number of species that can be addressed in each area but does not account for species that may occur in more than one area. Logically, we would designate the MOVP as the most important because the largest numbers of SGCN were found there. We employed a repetitive algorithm to select the next PCA (Williams, 1998). This type of ‘greedy’ algorithm emphasizes stepwise selection of new conservation areas that are richest in targets or features not already represented. In other words, which PCA would harbor the most species not found within the MOVP? Beginning with the richest area (MOVP) we compared SGCN composition between all areas. We found the greatest SGCN overlap between the MOVP and ILPK. More new species were found (49 species; (Appendix 4.29) in the SWAP even though its SGCN richness was lower. Combining unique SGCN from the MOVP and SWAP generated a list of 198 SGCN total found in these 2 areas. This procedure was repeated adding the ILPK and 27 new species were added for a total of 225 SGCN found in the 3 Conservation Areas.
All Tier I PCA’s combined comprised only 14.4% of Kentucky’s total land area (Appendix 4.30) but contained occurrence records for 91% of all SGCN (Appendix 4.29). These figures are in agreement with United Nations guidelines for reserve design (Bruntland, 1987) that gives a target of 12% land area encompassing 85% of targeted species. This ’12 % fixation’ target has also been adopted by Canada (Hummel, 1995). We feel this provides evidence for the soundness of our methodology and the validity of the PCA’s selected by the CWCS Team. However, we must also be mindful that additional research is needed to confirm the persistence of these occurrence records (i.e., one time sighting or persistent population?) and the quality of the records (were there data entry errors or misidentifications?). While these Tier I PCA’s provide a valuable guide for determining the most important locations to implement conservation actions they do not represent the only areas in the state in need of conservation. Many Tier II areas harbor large numbers of SGCN and contribute to securing the biodiversity of Kentucky. Special consideration will be given to those areas supporting SGCN that were not included in Tier I PCA’s. For example, the Cumberland Mountain Thrust Block ecoregion in southeast Kentucky contains several SGCN (e.g., Canada Warbler and Kentucky Red-backed Vole) not found in Tier I PCA’s.
Additional habitat and species mapping projects are needed that focus on these areas to determine if and where ‘hot spots’ may occur. This also will allow better coordination with partners already working in these areas. A first step towards coordination was to identify the public lands within each area (Appendix 4.31, MOVP; Appendix 4.32, ILPK; and Appendix 4.33, SWAP). Nearly 38% of the SWAP PCA is in public ownership (Appendix 4.30). The Daniel Boone National Forest (DBNF) comprises most of this public land although the Big South Fork National Recreation Area and KDFWR wildlife management areas also contribute significant area. Inspection of the map, however, reveals that in-holdings within the DBNF may need to be addressed in that region. Public ownership is much less significant in either the MOVP or the ILPK (3.7% public land for each). Habitat composition of each area is another important consideration for future research. The MOVP is approximately 20% pasture and 47% agriculture (Appendix 4.34). This indicates that working closely with Farm Bill programs are likely important actions. The ILPK also has significant portions of land use in pasture and agriculture, 33% and 31% respectively but is more heavily forested than the MOVP. Conversely, the SWAP is nearly 80% forested. Differences in land ownership patterns and land use patterns between areas will obviously play an important factor when selecting appropriate conservation actions within each Tier I PCA.
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