Surrogate species are a layer within Strategic Habitat Conservation (SHC). Since the sheer number of species for which the Service, states, and partners work with make designing and conserving landscape-scale habitats impractical on a species-by-species basis, we are now developing a process to collaboratively identify surrogate species representing other species or aspects of the species' environment (e.g., water quality, sagebrush or grasslands, etc.).
Surrogate species is a commonly-used scientific term for system-based conservation planning that uses a species as an indicator of landscape habitat and system conditions. Surrogate species are used for comprehensive conservation planning that supports multiple species and habitats within a defined landscape or geographic area.
To enable effective and efficient fish and wildlife conservation, the Service has developed draft technical guidance to help employees and partners establish biological outcomes at defined landscape scales. This guidance describes a standard process and criteria for defining biological outcomes using a surrogate species approach, reducing the burden of addressing the requirements of many species individually. The application of this guidance represents an opportunity for the Service to participate with partners in advancing understanding of surrogate species science and refining application of the Strategic Habitat Conservation (SHC) framework to our conservation activities.