Thursday, April 1, 2010

Closer to home

Endemic species are restricted to a particular geographic area. CNHP has documented occurrences for 166 Colorado endemics, that is, species or communities known only from the state of Colorado. This means that CNHP is the only natural heritage program collecting and maintaining data about its distribution and condition.

Penstemon harringtonii (G3S3) occurs in an area of about 4,000 square miles in the Colorado River drainage in northwestern Colorado.

A closely related species, Penstemon penlandii, (G1S1 and federally listed as Endangered) is known from an area of less than 10 square miles in northwestern Colorado.

Of course, in real life, plants and animals don't pay any attention to the rectangular state boundary. Many of our rare species overlap into neighboring states, and are perhaps better described as "narrowly restricted to a small geographic area." In these instances, while all relevant state natural heritage programs maintain data on the species, only one program will have "rank responsibility," assigning the global as well as state rank for this species.

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