NatureServe Explorer®

An Online Encyclopedia of Life


NatureServe Explorer® provides authoritative conservation information on more than 70,000 plants, animals, and habitats of the United States and Canada.

This free searchable public database represents 40 years of field work, ecological inventory, and scientific database development by NatureServe, its network members, and hundreds of botanists, zoologists, ecologists, and information specialists.


Visitors to the site find the most comprehensive information available, particularly about rare and endangered species.  Colorful distribution maps show where each species and ecosystem occurs, plus how rare or common it is in each place. 

Searching NatureServe’s dynamic interactive database, users find answers to an unending range of questions:

  • What mammals live in my state? 
  • Which of them are endangered or threatened? 
  • What kinds of frogs might we find in the woods near our school? 

From the celebrated—birds, bears, and butterflies—to the obscure—mosses, mussels, and minnows—NatureServe Explorer describes thousands of species, their life history, habitat needs, and threats to their survival. 

Features & Benefits

This groundbreaking website is the Internet’s most comprehensive and authoritative source for U.S. and Canadian biodiversity information benefiting conservationists, students and teachers, researchers, and land managers. NatureServe’s colorful distribution maps show where each species and ecosystem occurs, plus how rare or common it is across its range. Which plants and animals are rare or imperiled in your state? What species are legally protected? Answering these questions and more, NatureServe details the life history and habitat requirements of thousands of species ecosystems, the threats they face, and management strategies for their protection. 

  • Science magazine called it “a 25-year trove of field data on the plants and animals of the United States and Canada.” 
  • The online scholarly review service wrote “NatureServe Explorer is a tremendous new resource that deserves to be bookmarked at every library, whether public, school, or academic.Recommended for all levels from junior high students to professionals.”
  • The editors of Awesome Library, which reviews more than 16,000 educational websites, identified NatureServe Explorer as one of the top five percent in the field of K-12 education.
  • USA Today listed NatureServe Explorer as one of its daily choices for hot sites.