Conservation programs funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation benefit hundreds of species and the habitats they depend on across the United States. NFWF has developed conservation strategies with measurable outcomes that track progress for many of these species. These species are good indicators of healthy habitats.

These strategies and metrics can be found in NFWF’s business plans developed by scientists and other experts, and approved by the Foundation's Board of Directors. NFWF programs fund conservation grants that implement the strategies and actions identified in the business plan.

Click on the species to learn a little about it, and which programs fund grants to conserve the species and its habitat.

Coosa creekshell
Credit: Georgia Wildlife Resources Division

Villosa mussels (Coosa creekshell)

The Coosa creekshell is a species of freshwater mussel that are endemic to the Coosa River Drainage in Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee. Increased sedimentation and reduced aquatic connectivity for host fishes like sunfish and sculpins have caused population declines throughout their range.

Hawksbill sea turtle

Sea turtles

There are seven different species of sea turtles, six of which are found in U.S. waters and are listed as threatened or endangered in a least a portion of their circumglobal range. These species include leatherback, loggerhead, Kemp’s ridley, olive ridley, green and hawksbill. For more than 100 million years, sea turtles have migrated long-distances over temperate and tropical oceans, spending most of their time at sea but returning to natal beaches to lay eggs.

Chestnut-collared longspur

Chestnut-collared longspur

The chestnut-collared longspur is a striking songbird highly endemic to shortgrass prairies of North America known for its aerial displays when defending their territory. Named for the long claw on their hind toe, these ground nesting birds have been in decline due to loss of native prairie and pesticides that are thought to reduce hatching success.

Karner blue butterfly

Karner blue butterflies measure only 1 inch wide, and are native to the Oakland Savannahs, stretching from New York to Minnesota. The species requires specialized habitats where wild blue lupine is abundant, the exclusive food plant for Karner caterpillars. Populations were in steep decline following habitat loss and modifications, which prompted their listing as an endangered species in 1992.


River herring

Alewife and blueback herring—collectively known as river herring—are diadromous fishes that spend most of their lives at sea but return to river and streams to spawn. Once abundant throughout the Atlantic seaboard, river herring populations have declined due to overfishing and habitat loss associated with the construction of dams. Recent conservation efforts have seen millions of river herring return to streams throughout New England, a promising sign not just for river herring, but also myriad other species that rely on them as an important food source.

Northern bobwhite quail

One of the most economically important game birds, the northern bobwhite quail is named for the distinctive 'bob-white' mating call of males throughout the breeding season. Bobwhite quail prefer shrubby areas surrounding grasslands or agricultural fields and live in groups called "coveys" during the fall and winter.

Coral reef and fish


Found in shallow, tropical waters around the world, coral reefs are among the most iconic and diverse ecosystems on earth. Despite covering less than 1 percent of the ocean, 25 percent of marine species rely on coral reefs, which are made up of many different species of coral. While corals are threatened by pollution, overfishing, disease and increasing ocean temperature resulting in widespread mortality, local conservation efforts coupled with advancements in coral restoration show promise for conserving this important ecosystem.

Steelhead trout

Steelhead trout

Steelhead trout are an anadromous species that live along the west coast of the United States. While all Steelhead trout return to freshwater to spawn, some stay in freshwater their whole lives and are referred to as rainbow trout. Steelhead trout are vulnerable to many stressors and threats including blocked access to spawning grounds and habitat degradation caused by dams and culverts.

Eastern oyster

Eastern oyster

Eastern oysters have played a particularly prominent role in the culture, history, and economy of the Chesapeake Bay and other areas throughout the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts. Reefs serve as important habitat for a variety of aquatic species. However, overharvesting, disease and declines in estuarine and bottom habitats have ravaged native oyster populations. Eastern oysters now represent less than 2 percent of their peak historical populations.

Red snapper
Credit: Jason Arnold

Red snapper

The red snapper is a long-lived reef fish typically found over deep reefs banks and rocky bottoms within the Gulf of Mexico and the South Atlantic United States. Red snapper are one of the most popular sport fishes in the Gulf of Mexico and support important recreational and commercial fisheries.

Eastern brook trout

Eastern brook trout

The eastern brook trout is the only trout native to the eastern United States and inhabits coldwater rivers and lakes. Sensitive to even small declines in water quality and increases in sedimentation, brook trout can serve as excellent indicators of the health of a stream or river ecosystem.

Burrowing owl

Burrowing owl

The burrowing owl is small with long legs, and found in open country throughout the Americas. Within the United States it is largely a western bird, with an isolated population in Florida. While the species is associated with burrowing animals, the Florida population digs its own burrows.