The National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS) Inventory & Monitoring (I&M) Initiative and Southeast Region I&M Branch has made a strong commitment to data management and has provided resources to streamline data entry and storage and, when appropriate, increase the availability of data. Data management refers to the framework by which data are acquired, maintained, and made available.
Southeast Region I&M Branch staff are developing, testing, and using a number of data management systems to help the NWRS accomplish mission goals and inform management decisions at all levels. Some of the current data management efforts being conducted by Southeast I&M Branch staff include the FWSpecies database, PRIMR database, Refuge ESA species database, Service Catalog database, and Status and Needs Assessment.
Ever wonder which refuges have observed gray bats on their lands. How many refuges have Indigo Snakes? What birds have been seen at Harris Neck NWR? The answer to these questions, and more, will soon be a few mouse clicks away.
The Natural Resource Program Center in Fort Collins is currently working on FWSpecies. This national database modeled after NPSpecies (which does similar work for the National Park Service) should be available for testing soon. Among other uses, this database could help prioritize invasive species removal, target survey activity, aid visitor services, and answer data calls in a fraction of the time.
Currently, I&M staff nationwide are assembling species occurrence data from Comprehensive Conservation Plans, and other documents to pre-populate the database prior to deployment. Each species will have its correct and current scientific name, common name, and a select set of attributes such as, breeding code, seasonality, and abundance codes. Other existing databases such as eBird, iNaturalist, and others will also be used to augment refuge documents, and annual updates from these sources will be incorporated to keep FWSpecies current. Selected individuals will be able to correct or add data for each refuge, fine-tuning the information and increasing its accuracy. Want more information or interested in testing this application, please contact the I&M Branch data manager, Steve Holzman.
The Inventory and Monitoring Policy directs each refuge to produce a standardized inventory and monitoring plan. The Planning and Review of Inventory & Monitoring on Refuges (PRIMR) database was developed to streamline the process of developing these plans. The PRIMR database can be used by regional and national I&M staff to identify common survey activities occurring across the NWRS. The database will also be beneficial to field stations that want to link their inventory and monitoring activities to specific refuge goals and objectives.
In the Southeast region, I&M Branch and refuge staff have finished the initial data entry for PRIMR and have cataloged over 1,344 biological surveys on 125 Southeast refuges. For more information about PRIMR, please contact the I&M Branch data manager, Steve Holzman. The PRIMR fact sheet (335KB) is also available for download.
The Southeast Region I&M Branch is contributing to a NWRS I&M Initiative effort to develop a comprehensive list of species classified under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) that currently occur or have historically occurred on refuges. The Natural Resource Program Center (NRPC), home of the NWRS I&M Initiative, compiled ESA species listed in refuge Comprehensive Conservation Plans and in the national Threatened and Endangered Species System (TESS) database.
In 2013, Southeast region refuges reviewed their respective lists, made any necessary corrections and additions, and noted if species were currently being monitored. Corrections/additions are currently undergoing assessment by the USFWS Ecological Services division. These efforts will help inform I&M monitoring priorities, as well as enhance the TESS database system for national tracking of endangered species.
For more information about the Refuge ESA Species database, please contact the I&M Branch data manager, Steve Holzman.
The 2010 Strategic Plan for Inventories and Monitoring on National Wildlife Refuges highlights the importance of assembling legacy datasets to be used for biological planning and conservation design. Historically important and management relevant information that potentially could be lost should be centrally archived on a secure system. The Service Catalog (ServCat) is a digital library of secure, archived biological information (reports, surveys, databases, geospatial data and images) stored in a centralized, web-based database.
The Southeast Region I&M Branch is working directly with refuges to archive existing documents at field stations. The initial focus is on refuges with high risk for catastrophic weather-related loss. At this time, over 7,700 Southeast refuge documents (including annual narratives and Comprehensive Conservation Plans) have been archived into the database.
The long-term plan is to complete legacy archival at several refuges each year until all Southeast region refuges are working with ServCat by 2018. After the initial archival, the station will be responsible for uploading new documents as they are produced.
A secondary objective of ServCat is to meet the Department's Open Data Policy (Executive Order 13642). Southeast region refuge managers will set document sensitivity levels (public or internal) in order to determine which records will be made available to the public.
The Southeast Region I&M Branch recently completed a Status and Needs Assessment report (2.48MB) that summarizes information collected from refuges located in the Gulf Zone. From June 2012 - July 2013, I&M staff visited 65 National Wildlife Refuges in Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Alabama to help refuge staff populate the Planning and Review of Inventory and Monitoring on Refuges (PRIMR) database and to discuss I&M data and staff support needs.
These data provide a broader picture of monitoring in the Gulf and helped to identify opportunities to coordinate and improve data collection, data management, and analysis so that refuge data contributes effectively and efficiently to Service and partner objectives at the local and landscape scale. The most outstanding opportunities identified within the Southeast Region Gulf Zone are presented in this report with additional data and information included in the associated Appendices(2.10MB) . For more information about this effort, please contact the I&M Deputy Chief, Janet Ertel.