Rare plants and animals, and natural communities

Wildflowers in a meadow with rainy sky
Mead's milkweed at the KU Field Station

The Kansas Natural Heritage Inventory maintains an integrated database management system containing comprehensive biological data on the plants, animals and natural communities of Kansas.

Conservation status ranks have been assigned to all plants, all vertebrate animals and select invertebrate animals. Site-specific location data are maintained for more than 400 taxa of rare plants and 238 species of rare animals, as well as for the 70 natural plant communities identified in the state.

We have been developing these databases for more than 25 years and continue to add updated information as it becomes available. Thus, the Heritage program is a comprehensive source of both historical and current information on the biodiversity of Kansas. This information is a valuable resource that can be used to assist with project planning, environmental review, research and conservation planning.

Rare species data are available through the Kansas Biological Survey's Kansas Natural Resource Planner, an online mapping tool. To request a review for a specific project area, please see our page on data and project reviews.

Lists of rare plants and animals, and natural communities

Lists of the rare plants, rare animals and natural communities for which we maintain site-specific information (our “Element Tracking” lists) are available by request. Each species and natural community is assigned global and state conservation status ranks. Please contact Jennifer Delisle (jdelisle@ku.edu) regarding the following documents and publications:

  • Rare plant tracking list
  • Rare invertebrate tracking list
  • Rare vertebrate tracking list
  • Natural community tracking list
  • Explanation of heritage ranks and status codes
  • Protected plants in Kansas
  • Coefficients of Conservatism for Kansas Vascular Plants
  • Explanation of Coefficients of Conservatism for Kansas Vascular Plants
  • Classification of the Natural Vegetation of Kansas
  • Native Prairie Hay Meadow Management Guide

Individuals with information on the species listed on our Element Tracking lists are invited to contribute to the databases by contacting us directly. The information provided will be used to improve our knowledge and protection of the state’s rare resources.

Links to other resources on Kansas plants and animals

Kansas wildflower photo gallery (KU Libraries)
Kansas Mammal Atlas
Kansas Herpetofaunal Atlas
Kansas Threatened and Endangered Wildlife (Kansas Dept. of Wildlife and Parks)