A Strategic Approach to Conservation in the Midwest Region
Mallards are one of the species that the Habitat and Population Evaluation Team monitors and assesses over the Prairie Pothole Region. Photo by USFWS.
The Habitat and Population Evaluation Team stationed in Fergus Falls, Minn., conducts scientific evaluation and monitoring projects to support strategic conservation efforts in the Prairie Pothole Region. The team collects and analyzes scientific data and provides critical information for on-the-ground conservation action for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its partner agencies.
HAPET uses scientific models to estimate duck-pair potential, or breeding potential, within 40-acre tracts of land. Using models based on data collected from annual waterfowl surveys, the team is able to estimate production potential of a landscape, both before and after wetland and grassland restoration. HAPET also evaluates the potential of a landscape for other wetland and grassland dependent species including shorebirds, secretive marsh birds such as bitterns and rails and grassland nesting songbirds. Special surveys are used to develop landscape models for some species, while existing data and expert knowledge have been used to model important areas for species in absence of survey data.
The National Wildlife Refuge System uses the data analysis provided by HAPET to strategize land acquisition opportunities. In particular, the Service’s Small Wetlands Acquisition Program benefits breeding waterfowl through the acquisition of small wetlands and associated uplands habitats. These properties, acquired through fee-title or easement, are selected for restoration and conservation efforts, based on the integrity of their existing wetland complexes, landscape content and predicted nesting success. HAPET develops and provides scientific tools that enable refuge system managers to compare the ecological value of specific properties to determine where conservation efforts will have the highest return.
Efficiently restoring habitat complexes demands a targeted and coordinated approach to conservation. The technical assistance that the Habitat and Population Evaluation Team provides to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service land managers and our partners strengthens the Midwest region’s scientific credibility and significantly benefits the species and habitats that require our efforts to survive.
Learn more about the HAPET office and how it supports the NWRS by visiting their website at http://www.fws.gov/midwest/hapet/
Fred Oslund, Biological Science Technician
Habitat and Population Evaluation Team
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.
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