Effectiveness of Illinois’ Protected Lands Network at Supporting SGCN and their Habitats

Mei-Ling Feng, Tyler E. Schartel, Eric South, Bridget Henning, Yong Cao, Leon C. Hinz Jr

Research output: Book/Report/Conference proceedingTechnical report


This project identified key locations for conservation work to inform and assist conservation manager priorities and decisions. Conservation management decisions and goals can be guided by project results and tools that provide common assessment standards for evaluating the effectiveness of current protection efforts in Illinois. Key conservation locations were identified based on the site’s contribution towards meeting regional conservation goals. This process began with updating sub-national conservation status ranks (sRanks) of Natural Community Types (NCTs) and Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) within Illinois. These sRanks will assist with prioritizing protection and stewardship activities aimed at maintaining high-quality communities and native populations with the greatest extirpation risks. We also identified the locations of under-protected species and natural communities within the Illinois protected lands network in order to facilitate statewide land acquisition and preservation actions. Protected land and high-quality natural areas known as Illinois Natural Area Inventory sites (INAI) were ranked based on their statewide priority for rarity weighted richness, biodiversity including rarer and endemic species, and viability relative to their exposure to anthropogenic disturbances. Together, the status reviews and protection analyses developed regional species and community targets, while the rarity weighted richness and vulnerability analyses identified high-quality, biodiverse sites. Project tools subsequently include priority-ranked species, natural communities, site lists, and maps that visualize the locations of these priorities based on the above-mentioned analyses. The processes and tools used in this project provide a common assessment standard for evaluating the effectiveness of current protection efforts in Illinois and setting regional goals to assist with conservation management decisions.
Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherIllinois Natural History Survey
Number of pages122
StatePublished - Sep 28 2021

Publication series

NameINHS Technical Report
No.2021 (19)


  • conservation status reviews
  • rarity weighted richness prioritization
  • biodiversity protection
  • Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN)
  • Natural Community Types


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