Habitat and Population Evaluation Team
Midwest Region


The Habitat and Population Evaluation Team (HAPET) is part of the Migratory Bird Division of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), which is a branch of the United States Department of the Interior. Our mission is to improve the biological basis for migratory bird management in the Upper Midwest.


The Habitat and Population Evaluation Team was established in 1989 to coordinate the annual USFWS Waterfowl Breeding Population and Production Survey. Since its inception, HAPET’s mission has expanded to include strategic planning and evaluation for the full range of migratory birds occurring in the tall grass prairie portion of the U.S. Prairie Pothole Region. HAPET, a part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Migratory Birds and State Programs, provides technical assistant to USFWS National Wildlife Refuge System and the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, as well as to a host of partners comprising the Prairie Pothole Joint Venture.

HAPET uses strategic planning at regional scales to guide the delivery of conservation by management partners. A comprehensive strategic plan provides biological input into the decision processes about:

  • Where to deliver habitat conservation to maximize species benefits;

  • What form management should take at a site given habitat condition and landscape structure; and

  • How much management is warranted to optimize benefit:cost ratios.

Because strategic plans with these attributes include a geographic component, they are referred to as spatially-explicit plans. Strategic planning is founded on the idea that every part of a landscape has a unique and optimal management decision associated with it. Often that optimal decision will be no wildlife management. In areas of the landscape where management is warranted, the choices of management treatments to apply, and how much management is cost effective, depend on the potential of the area to affect migratory bird populations – the ultimate goal – and the cost of management at that location. Consequently, strategic conservation planning has the greatest value when managers are willing and able to prioritize management alternatives. Planning increases the likelihood of making cost effective decisions by avoiding misapplications of management treatments or investing in areas with limited potential to affect populations. In this fashion, the HAPET seeks to provide biological quality assurance that increases the effectiveness and efficiency of management.

HAPET biologists develop biological models and apply them to spatial data using Geographic Information System technology. Specifically, model-based strategic planning seeks to enable:

  • Identification of management priority areas where migratory bird populations may be effected most efficiently resulting in greater management cost-effectiveness;

  • Development of sound habitat objectives by relating population objectives to the predicted carrying capacity of site-specific habitats; and

  • Assessment of management accomplishments in terms of the predicted consequences of individual management actions (e.g., a wetland restoration) for populations and regional carrying capacity.


Cry of the Marsh
Strategic Habitat Conservation
Last updated: December 30, 2009