Georgia Rare Species and Natural Community Data

Introduction to Available Nongame Conservation Data

Here you will find rare species and natural community data maintained by the Nongame Conservation Section. Our protected species lists contains species protected at both the state and the federal level. Our special concern lists includes plants, animals, and natural communities that are federally and state protected and also species that are not legally protected but are considered of special conservation concern by our staff biologists. We maintain active records for these species and communities in our conservation databases.

Commonly Requested Data

Georgia Rare Natural Element Data Portal

Check out our new draft Rare Natural Element Data Portal page (Updated June, 2017). The latest rare species and natural community data can now be accessed from this data portal page. Included are rare species profiles, range maps, rarity ranks as well as state and federal protection statuses. Also include are lists of rare species by Georgia county, quarter quad, watershed, ecoregion and more.

Sending Us Locations of Rare Species and Significant Natural Communities

Georgia's Natural Communities and Associated Rare Plant and Animal Species: Thumbnail Accounts

Here is a link to a PDF copy of Georgia's Natural Communities and Associated Rare Plant and Animal Species: Thumbnail Accounts written by Linda Chafin and based on " Guide to the Natural Communities of Georgia," by Leslie Edwards, Jon Ambrose, and Katherine Kirkman, 2013, University of Georgia Press. This document summarizes terrestrial and aquatic natural communities within Georgia. The community classification system used here varies from the Ecological Classifications used by NatureServe in other parts of our website.

Contact information

Contact information for our staff can be found in the NatureServe Network Staff Directory.

Our address is:

Georgia Department of Natural Resources 
Nongame Conservation Section 
Wildlife Resources Conservation Center 
2065 U.S. Hwy 278 SE 
Social Circle, GA 30025-4743

Species Profiles

Rare Species Locations

Disclaimer for Use of Rare Species Location Data

Please keep in mind the limitations of our database. The data collected by the Nongame Conservation Section comes from a variety of sources, including museum and herbarium records, literature, and reports from individuals and organizations, as well as field surveys by our staff biologists. In most cases the information is not the result of a recent on-site survey by our staff. Many areas of Georgia have never been surveyed thoroughly.

The Nongame Conservation Section can only occasionally provide definitive information on the presence or absence of rare species in a given area. Our files are updated constantly as new information is received. Thus, information provided by our program represents the existing data in our files on the date indicated on these pages and should not be considered a final statement on the species or area under consideration.

Current Available Data

Georgia Rare Natural Element Data Portal

Our new Georgia Rare Natural Element Data Portal has configurable lists of information about rare species and natural communities, as well as range maps, species profiles and much more.

Fewer EOs for a Given Location Over Time

Several people have noticed that rare species that previously were reported for certain counties, quarter quads or HUC watersheds are no longer reported for these areas in our currently provided data. This is primarily because newly revised boundaries of EOs, using better data, are almost always smaller when they don't have as much uncertainty distance added in. These revised EO boundaries will then intersect fewer counties, quarter quads or HUC watersheds than they did previously. To a smaller degree, attrition is due to misidentified specimens and taxonomic changes.

Difference Between Known and Potential Element Ranges:

These lists are for rare species and natural communities that are KNOWN to occur within a given area and for which we have records of the locations in our databases. They should not be confused with lists of POTENTIAL elements for a given area. Potential lists are distributed by our office, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and others. Potential elements lists include both those elements that are known to occur within a given area and those whose theoretical range intersects the area of interest and may show up within the region as more surveys are conducted.

Contact Information

Contact information for our staff can be found in the NatureServe Network Staff Directory.

Citation for Use of Georgia Rare Species and Natural Community Data

Georgia Department of Natural Resources. 2013. Nongame Conservation Section Biotics Database. Wildlife Resources Division, Social Circle.; Available at (Accessed: <date>)

Requesting Information for Sites

Who Needs to Request More Information for Sites?

Not all projects should require a full review from our office.  Small projects in urban areas, projects involving small modifications to an existing developed site and projects that will not disturb any natural habitats or aquatic resources may not need a full review.  In these cases, users should be able to access the necessary information for special concern species and communities near the project area from our website by using the CountyQuarter QuadHUC8 Watershed and HUC10 Watershed lists.  However, if there is potential habitat for species of concern on your site and those species are located within the quarter quad or quads nearby, you should request further information from our office.  Large-scale projects, projects in previously undeveloped areas and projects that involve activities that may potentially disturb natural habitats or aquatic resources should be reviewed by this office.  Please follow the instructions below for completing an information request.

Instructions for Submitting an Information Request

All site-specific requests for information on species and natural community occurrences should be sent with accompanying map(s) preferably by email. We do not recommend faxing. If sending letters electronically, please attach requests to an email in DOC or PDF format. Send them to environmental review coordinators, Anna Yellin and Laci Coleman via Please do not email attachments of zip files. Our email server will block any emails with zip attachments without notification to either party (even with the .zip extension renamed). If you need to send zip files, please use a public file sharing service like DropBox, or Google Docs (all free).

The letter should contain a brief description of the project and an explanation of the information that is being requested. The location of small to medium sites should be indicated on a copy of a USGS 7.5 minute (1:24,000 scale) quadrangle map. Preferably, larger projects such as large-scale road widening projects should be sent as an ESRI shapefile. (Don't forget to send the projection of your shapefile if a .prj file is not included. It is always a good idea to send metadata with GIS data.)

Unless otherwise specified, you will be sent a letter containing a list of all tracked elements in our databases on or within 3 miles of the project site. The approximate distance and direction from the site will be included. Staff recommendations concerning the project will also be included in the letter. Please allow four weeks for processing of site information requests. 

Mailing Address:
Anna Yellin or Laci Coleman
Georgia Department of Natural Resources
Wildlife Resources Conservation Center
2065 US Hwy 278 SE
Social Circle, GA 30025-4743

(770) 918-6411
* Faxing is not recommended

Submission of Electronic Data

Reports for Scientific collecting permits

Submit scientific collecting permit report data electronically using the Excel spreadsheet downloaded here. Descriptions of each data field can be downloaded here. Any rare species data reported in a scientific collecting permit report does not have to be reported separately as described below.

For bats only

Submit scientific collecting permit report data for BATS electronically using this Excel spreadsheet. Also, please visit our Bat Survey Guidance Page for more information about current survey requirements in Georgia.

Reports for rare species and natural communities

Providing rare taxa element occurrence (EO) data in a spreadsheet, database table or KML file can greatly speed up our work in converting it to an EO record (EOR) and getting it into our database. Electronic submission of data is especially helpful for large data sets. Electronic data submission eliminates the need to submit hard copies of the special concern animal observation/collection data sheet.

We have provided an example Excel spreadsheet, "Electronic Data Request Example.xls", that may be used for electronic submission of EO data. However, this spreadsheet is only a guide and collectors/observers may modify or add new fields as it suits their own needs (as long as we can tell what information is being conveyed). We have also produced a rather detailed spreadsheet for submitting natural community data. This spreadsheet can be adapted for animal and plant EOs by eliminating the community columns, colored green.

The number-one thing to watch out for is to make sure that when the data is entered it strictly adheres to a consistent format. This is especially true for the date, scientific name, latitude and longitude field columns. You can use the data format of your choice for data entry, but when we convert the data into a format that will go into our database, consistency in data entry greatly simplifies the process. Examples of often encountered inconsistencies include latitude and longitude in differing formats such as digital degrees "e.g.: Lat 32.2354" and degrees minutes seconds "e.g.: Lat 32 27 13" in different rows in the same column. Another common problem involves the use of DATUM. All latitude and longitude values should be entered with the same datum, either NAD27 or NAD83 but not mixed in the same data set.

Remember that UTM is not a projection by itself; it is a class of projections, and without specifying the zone, datum and map units, a unique projection is not defined. If you will be submitting your data in UTM coordinates please use only one zone, datum and map units for all records. Mixing two different projections such as UTM Zone 16 NAD83 and UTM Zone 17 NAD83 data in the same dataset complicates the conversion process and leads to errors.

To help reduce latitude and longitude inconsistency problems it is highly recommended that some kind of map be provided which shows the location of each new EOR. A GIS layer that the provider has prepared would also be fine as this layer can be easily checked for DATUM or other projection problems by the provider before it is sent to us and then again by us when we get it from them. If maps or shape files cannot be provided, please make sure that accurate and specific locality information is included in the directions from known landmark field so that we can verify locations.

With dates, the preferred format to use is year, month, day such as "2004-06-13" for June 13, 2004, but any consistently used format can be readily converted during the import process.

Sometimes users are confused about what constitutes an EO. EOs are usually places where organisms have been found occurring naturally or that are essential for the continuation of a viable population of a taxon. For example, with animals this could include breeding, nesting or feeding areas. EOs are usually NOT places where organisms are found accidentally.

Introduced populations are a special case and need to be indicated in data provided with the occurrence.

Many data providers have data (or wish to gather data) that represents collections or locations of individual organisms. Though these usually do not constitute an EO according to our strict definition, the data is just as valuable to us as we can convert it to the format we need. If the data provider would like to adhere more strictly to our data standards, including EO specifications or field/column definitions, they are available upon request.

If this is the first time you have submitted data and you are ready to send us your data please contact Katrina Morris, Greg Krakow, Brett Albanese or Anna Yellin on how to proceed. Our email addresses and other contact information can be found in the NatureServe Network Staff Directory.

We are also eager for your feedback on GNHPs electronic data submission protocol. Thanks!

Providing us with rare element data manually

Georgia DNR, Wildlife Resources Division, Nongame Conservation Section relies on information gathered from a variety of sources to facilitate conservation efforts. You may be able to help provide such information. Do you know the location of an exemplary or relatively undisturbed natural community? Do you have site information for a particular rare species? If so, please contact the Nongame Conservation Section, Social Circle office (formally know as Georgia Natural Heritage Program). There are two "Observation / Collection Data Sheets" available for properly submitting data: plant data collection form and animal data collection form. The information you provide will be verified and incorporated into the database as appropriate.

If you will be sending us information for more than a few rare species locations, you may wish to submit the data as a spreadsheet or database table. Please see Providing EO Data Electronically for details.

Nongame Conservation Section receives some of its data from researchers who have obtained the proper permits from the GA-DNR Special Permits Unit (770-761-3044). The animal data collection form is also used by scientific collectors. This data facilitates protection and stewardship activities for the preservation of natural diversity within the state and is used extensively in environmental review, site selection and design, and conservation planning. Our files are updated constantly as new information is received.

A knowledgeable and active citizenry is the key to protecting our environment. The people of Georgia are the guardians of their own natural heritage and everyone's support is needed to ensure that this outstanding natural diversity is preserved for future generations. Information from scientific collections and the public is vital in ascertaining the distribution and relative rarity of animal species considered to be of "Special Concern."

High-Priority Waters

The High Priority Waters data presented on this page is now obsolete.  We will be creating a new webpage providing more information about the new High Priority Watersheds that were identified during the 2015 revision of our State Wildlife Action Plan.  Until that time, please refer to the Aquatic Habitat Technical Team Report (Appendix F) in the State Wildlife Action Plan.

You can also download a shapefile here….

High priority watersheds zipped shapefile from the 2015 SWAP

Conservation Opportunity Areas

Potential conservation opportunity areas were identified as part of a larger effort to develop a Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy for Georgia. You can learn more about this strategy, also known as Georgia's Wildlife Action Plan, on our CWCS page.

Potential conservation opportunity areas may be significant to the conservation of biodiversity because they contain one or a combination of the following: a large area of natural vegetation, predicted habitat for rare species, or a documented occurrence of a rare species. A wide array of conservation efforts could be directed at these areas, including many of the programs described on our Conservation Incentives page.

You may download this map of potential conservation opportunity areas. You may also download methods describing how these areas were identified and how to request a GIS coverage of Potential Conservation Opportunity Areas. 

  • Map Class 0  = Watershed was not designated as a high priority
  • Map Class 1  = Watershed is high priority, moderate global significance score
  • Map Class 2  = Watershed is high priority, high global significance score
  • Map Class 3  = Watershed is high priority, highest global significance score
  • Map Class 4  = Watershed is high priority, but is considered significant for some other reason as described in the Aquatic Habitat Technical Team Report.