Frequently Asked Questions
What is the National Wildlife Refuges System (NWRS) Inventory & Monitoring (I&M) Initiative?
The NWRS I&M Initiative is a branch of the NWRS Natural Resource Program Center and was established to gather, analyze and disseminate authoritative, scientifically rigorous biological data about the status, trends and responses to management of species and habitats within the Refuge System, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and landscape conservation cooperatives (LCCs). Based at the Natural Resource Program Center in Fort Collins, CO, I&M Initiative staff work with regional coordinators to bolster U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service science by establishing various baseline data regarding fish, wildlife, plants, water and other resources on national wildlife refuges, on other Service units and at landscape scales.
What is the Southeast Region Inventory & Monitoring Network?
The Southeast Region Inventory & Monitoring Network (I&M) is part of the NWRS I&M Initiative. Our network works collaboratively to assess the status of NWRS lands, waters and biota and support achievement of conservation objectives at multiple spatial scales. We are specifically tasked to work closely with refuges, conservation partnerships such as Landscape Conservation Cooperatives, and other Service programs to address critical refuge information needs and evaluate effectiveness of conservation strategies on refuges. For more information about our roles and purpose, please visit About I&M Network.
How many staff work for the Southeast Region I&M Network?
The Southeast Region I&M Network is staffed with 13 monitoring experts. Staff occupy two landscape “zones” that complement southeastern Landscape Conservation Cooperative (LCC) geographies: the South Atlantic Network and the Gulf Network. Each zone is staffed with a network lead, data manager, and terrestrial, aquatic, plant and coastal ecologists. Staff are stationed strategically at refuge and partner offices across the geography to provide local, regional, and national coordination and support. For a staff directory, please visit I&M Staff.
What is an inventory?
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service defines inventory as a survey that estimates the presence, abundance, and distribution of species, habitats, ecological communities, or abiotic resources at a particular time (701 FW 2 Policy on Inventory and Monitoring in the NWRS).
What is monitoring?
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service defines monitoring as a survey repeated through time to document changes in select attributes of wildlife, plants, habitats, ecological communities, or abiotic resources (701 FW 2 Policy on Inventory and Monitoring in the NWRS). Two types of monitoring in the policy are:
- Baseline Monitoring. Monitoring that is not tied to specific predictions of how a natural resource will respond to management or environmental stressors, but instead is designed to document change over time of a natural resource. Also referred to as ‘surveillance monitoring,’ examples include monitoring climatic parameters, species population trends over time, disease incidence, contaminants, and wilderness character.
- Monitoring to Inform Management. Monitoring to assess whether a natural resource is approaching or exceeding a known threshold, or if a resource is responding to a management action or system stressor in a specified manner. This type of monitoring involves defining the threshold values or expected response, then surveying to measure the response or a closely related indicator. Comparing monitoring results with these expected values may show a need for initiating, intensifying, or altering management actions. In this policy, it generally means monitoring in an adaptive management context to improve management or evaluate progress toward achieving management objectives. Use of the term may also include what is referred to as ‘targeted’ monitoring.