OOS 79-10
Utilizing species data repositories to support conservation planning

Thursday, August 13, 2015: 4:40 PM
337, Baltimore Convention Center
Kaylene E. Keller, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Sacramento, CA
Orien Richmond, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Fremont, CA

Over the last 10 years, the availability of standardized, easily accessible species observation data has dramatically increased.  Conservation managers can now utilize information from multiple sources, including crowd sourced data, to support natural resource management planning.  As part of its natural resource management planning process, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) Pacific Southwest Region National Wildlife Refuge System Inventory and Monitoring (I&M) program is utilizing available species information to identify priority resources of concern.  The integration of Avian Knowledge Network (AKN/eBird) and USGS Biological Information Serving Our Nation (BISON) data in a structured decision process allows managers to evaluate resources of concern at a range of scales, from individual refuges to refuges complexes to Service regions.  This process illustrates how data standardization and easy access to large data sets can improve conservation planning. 

A key step in conservation planning is to identify the important natural resources to focus conservation efforts on.  There are many conservation plans, from international plans down to local plans, which identify “priorities” for conservation.  I&M integrated refuge field knowledge with species list information from refuges, observations from AKN and BISON, and with priorities from national, regional and local conservation plans. The resulting dataset is used in a structured decision making process to identify priority resources for each refuge.  The same information and process can be used at a regional scale to identify priority resources across a landscape.  While this has been possible to do in the past, it was time consuming, often data limited and could not be easily updated.  By working with the information as a dataset the I&M team was able to develop a data system that covers all of the refuges in the region and can be queried and updated as new information is added to the system.


Access to large species observation datasets, landscape-scale conservation plan priorities as datasets and structured prioritization processes brings transparency and the potential for linked local and regional scale planning.

In order to utilize the data for conservation planning, it is important to have access to staff with the skills and abilities to manipulate and process the available data.  As ecology enters into the next 100 years, we need to have skills in understanding ecological processes as well as being able to work with and manipulate large datasets to support our conservation goals.