Fisheries, Midwest Region
Conserving the Nature of America

Native Species Conservation

What is a Native Species?
A native species is a plant or animal that has always been a part of a particular environment. Such animals play a role in the chain of events for feeding (food web) or habitat and have evolved with the environment and adapted to it. When there are changes in the environment - such as where a new similar animal is added or when the habitat changes - it can disrupt the native species, who now has to compete for food with the new animal or has to find different habitat in order to live because its original habitat is no longer available. Such has been the case for many native aquatic species whose numbers have declined due to competition with new invader species or because of loss of important habitat to development.

Why is Native Species Conservation Important?
Native species conservation is important because many native species populations are declining due to degraded habitat and the spread of aquatic nuisance species. Without help, some declining species never recover and eventually may become extinct - or no longer in existence. When species declines are detected, efforts are made to protect the species and their habitat by designating it as threatened or an endangered in hopes of preventing it from becoming extinct. Preventing a species from declining to such levels where it is in peril is as important - if not more important - than allowing the species to reach such low levels that it requires protection as a threatened or endangered species. We work to detect declines in native fish populations and to assist those species before they reach low levels that require threatened or endangered listing. We accomplish this by working with partners to increase support and assistance to declining native fish and other aquatic resources andto ensure that habitats and native biological communities remain intact and at self-sustaining levels.

Native Species Found in the Midwest Region
Below are some native species that we work with in the Midwest Region. Select an image to link to more information about the species.