Wildlife Branch - Wildlife Diversity Program

“Conserving California’s Biodiversity”

banner of wildlife photos: snake, butterfly, bird, salamander, fisher

California has more native animal and plant species than any other state in the nation and is also home to the greatest number of endemic species, those that occur nowhere else in the world. Our native wildlife species include approximately 68 amphibians, 100 reptiles, 429 birds, 185 mammals, and over 27,000 terrestrial invertebrates that the Wildlife Diversity Program works to conserve. Our focus is recovering California's most vulnerable wildlife—Threatened and Endangered Species and Species of Special Concern—and conserving our rich biodiversity through monitoring and assessment, conservation planning, recovery planning, scientific research permitting, species and habitat management actions, research, and outreach activities. We also seek to build strong partnerships with tribal governments, State and federal agencies, land managers, and nonprofit and academic partners; and to provide valued leadership for others to help secure the future for California's wildlife.

While California is a global biodiversity hotspot, it is also home to more threatened and endangered species than any other state in the U.S. The Wildlife Diversity Program works to support the recovery of invertebrates, birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians listed as Threatened or Endangered under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA) and/or the federal Endangered Species Act in a variety of ways. This includes evaluating petitions and conducting species status assessments to inform CESA listing or de-listing decisions by the California Fish and Game Commission, preparing and implementing conservation strategies and recovery plans, and supporting or conducting research and conservation actions when funding is available. We also work to prevent the need to list species by compiling the best available science and expertise on the status of California's wildlife Species of Special Concern and by supporting and conducting research and management actions to promote their recovery.

Scientific research provides the valuable information needed to support wildlife conservation and recovery efforts. To ensure this research is conducted in a coordinated way and minimizes potential impacts to species, California law authorizes CDFW to issue Scientific Collection Permits for research, propagation, and educational purposes under certain conditions to qualified applicants. If a species is listed as Threatened, Endangered, or Candidate under CESA or is Fully Protected, we may issue Memorandums of Understanding to qualified scientific researchers and managers to further the conservation and recovery of the species. We evaluate and process all permit applications for wildlife species, including Terrestrial Invertebrates of Conservation Priority. To learn more about obtaining a research permit, see our Wildlife Branch Research Permitting page.

It is critical to understand the distributions of species, ranges, population dynamics and the drivers that influence them to inform effective conservation and management actions. Our program leads range wide surveys for a variety of species including bobcats (see Hot Topics) and tricolored blackbirds and coordinates community science projects such as short-eared owl survey and the North American Breeding Bird SurveyLikewise, we work to promote resiliency and biodiversity in California's natural communities through efforts including the California Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Framework and our montane carnivore project which contribute to our understanding of structure of wildlife communities and how they respond to climate change, wildfire, drought, and land use. Species health also plays an important role in maintaining healthy, robust populations. For example, our program supports and helps coordinate disease surveillance and response efforts for rabbit hemorrhagic diseasewhite-nose syndrome in bats, and snake fungal disease.

Pollinators play a crucial roles in supporting biodiversity and healthy ecosystems by supporting plant reproduction and plant diversity. Pollinators also support many benefits that humans receive from healthy ecosystems (i.e., ecological services) -- most notably, food security by pollinating the flowering plants that produce fruits, vegetables, and nuts. California is a global hotspot for native bee biodiversity with about 1600 species. In addition to native bees other pollinators include butterflies, flies, moths, beetles, wasps, birds, bats, other small mammals, and lizards. Our program supports CDFW's efforts to restore habitat and promote nectar resources for pollinators on our Wildlife Areas and Ecological Reserves, including breeding (milkweed) and migratory resources (flowering plants) for the iconic western monarch butterfly across the coast range and Central Valley.  For additional information on the status of the monarch population and CDFW’s conservation efforts, see our Monarch Butterfly webpage. We have also partnered with The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation to create a community-science driven California Bumble Bee Atlas to track and help conserve California's native bumble bee species. 

We coordinate the solicitation, review, and selection of grant proposals for three different federal wildlife grant programs: State Wildlife Grants, Endangered Species Conservation and Recovery Grants, and Endangered Species Conservation and Recovery Land Acquisition Grants. These grant programs promote conservation of California's Species of Greatest Conservation Need and recovery of federally listed species. For more information related to these programs or to sign up for grant related notifications, see our CDFW Grant Opportunities page

CDFW's Document Library provides public access to thousands of documents pertaining to wildlife species or their habitats. Recent publications and reports specifically related to our work are also readily available in our Program Library 

Wildlife Branch - Wildlife Diversity
1010 Riverside Parkway
West Sacramento, CA 95605
(916) 373-6627


Our mission is to conserve the rich diversity of California's native wildlife, which includes thousands of terrestrial invertebrates and more than 700 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians.

Hot Topics