National Wildlife Refuge System

Inventory and Monitoring

Recording wetland hydrology information

Monitoring native prairie plants

Determining clay content of soil

Using a soil core to identify hydric soils in a degraded wetland basin

The Inventory and Monitoring (I&M) initiative nationally coordinates the design, collection, retention and analysis of  critical scientific information spanning the Refuge System, enabling wildlife refuges  to adapt their management and deal  with  rapid and large-scale environmental change.

Such an integrated approach applies the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s adaptive management strategy of Strategic Habitat Conservation to inventory and monitoring.  Through internal collaboration and external partnerships, including working with Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs), the I&M initiative  works to assess the status and trends of refuge lands, waters, plants and wildlife , and support conservation objectives at local, regional and national levels.

Our Scientific Foundation

The I&M initiative supports the refuge biology program through the development of Inventory and Monitoring Plans (IMPs) and rigorous scientific protocols. Regional I&M staff, including regional I&M coordinators, zone biologists and data managers, provide direct support to wildlife refuge and assist with  development of IMPs. 

IMPs document the prioritization and selection of surveys that assess both the status and trends of natural resources, and the effectiveness of conservation management actions.  IMPs also document  resource needs and capacity challenges. They can be easily revised to address shifts in priorities due to environmental change.

Click here to learn about current projects.


Supporting Information Management

The Service’s efficiency is increased when data and information are readily available to inform management decisions.  The I&M initiative has created web-based tools to connect information modules rather than relying on stand-alone databases. This eliminates the need to enter the same information multiple times and enables the Service to recombine and, ultimately, serve the information in formats and combinations useful  to the end-user.  The I&M initiative’s commitment to integrated systems means that methods and protocols for biological surveys conducted on refuges are properly and securely documented and linked, resulting in more collaboration through data sharing.

Three integrated I&M information modules, ServCat, PRIMR, and WRIA, are currently available to Service employees at Collectively called IRIS, these integrated information modules support collaboration across disciplines and with other agencies, ensuring the Refuge System is a key contributor to the larger body of scientific knowledge:

  • PRIMR stores the how, why, what, when and where of refuge’s inventory and monitoring surveys. It provides refuge biologists a way to identify other types of surveys being performed across the Refuge System and serves as the institutional knowledge for a station.

  • ServCat organizes and stores documents relevant to management, including management plans, reports, tabular and geospatial data, and protocols. Historically important information that could be lost is now archived on a secure system.

  • WRIA is the place for staff to store and retrieve water resource information at multiple scales. This streamlines the production of Water Resource Assessments and supports refuge planning and management of water resources.

Information Management


For information on the national Inventory & Monitoring program, contact:

For information on the regional programs contact:

Last updated: June 27, 2014