We track vascular plant species rarity, distribution, number of occurrences, population size, population trends, habitat specificity, general ecology, identification, and systematics. Additionally we track lichens and ecosystems of conservation concern. Information on rare taxa and ecosystems is collaboratively obtained from various state, federal, and private entities. Rare taxa and ecosystems are assigned a species conservation status rank based on protocols developed by NatureServe. As new data become available, the conservation status of a species is updated.
Rare Vascular Plants
The Alaska Rare Vascular Plant Database contains biological and occurrence data for over 350 vascular plant species of conservation concern. Taxonomy, distribution, and conservation status were comprehensively reviewed in 2012 with the input of botanists from Alaska and Yukon and continue to be updated as necessary. The Alaska Rare Plant Field Guide provides information on the taxonomy, conservation status, distribution, morphology, and ecology of 80 rare vascular plant species of Alaska. The project was funded jointly by the Bureau of Land Management and the University of Alaska Anchorage. The species accounts from the field guide are also available through the rare vascular plant database. If you have occurrence or population information for rare vascular plants, bryophytes, or lichens, please submit the data using our online form.
We have completed an initial review of rare lichens in the state and are currently tracking 58 taxa. Additionally, we have included biological and occurrence data in our geospatial database, which is not yet available online. The development of this species list and associated data involved the input and review of numerous regional and international lichenologists.
Ecosystems of Conservation Concern
We provide descriptions, distribution maps, and conservation status assessments for ecosystems of conservation concern in Alaska. From temperate rainforests to arctic tundra, a wealth of ecosystems span the vast and varied landscapes of Alaska. Some ecosystems are of conservation concern because they support unique assemblages of specialized and/or diverse flora and fauna within a small geographic area or restricted range. In Alaska, remoteness preserves many ecosystems in pristine condition, yet some naturally-uncommon systems are in decline due to their intrinsic vulnerabilities or external threats.
Ecosystems are described at two levels – the Biophysical Setting and the Plant Association. Biophysical settings represent the vegetation that dominates the landscape in the absence of human action for a specific physical environment and natural disturbance regime, whereas plant associations are a finer-scale type representing communities of definite floristic composition and uniform habitat.