Inventory & Monitoring Branch
Southeast Region



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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 Branch?

The Southeast Region Inventory & Monitoring Branch (I&M) is part of the NWRS I&M Initiative. Our Branch 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 Branch.


How many staff work for the Southeast Region I&M Branch?

The Southeast Region Inventory & Monitoring (I&M) Branch is staffed with 10 monitoring experts. Staff are stationed strategically at refuge and partner offices across the geography to provide local, regional, and national coordination and areas of expertise include data management, statistics, terrestrial ecology, aquatic ecology, plant ecology and coastal ecology. For a staff directory, please visit I&M Staff.


What is a Landscape Conservation Cooperative?

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service defines landscape conservation cooperatives as a partnership that may include State, Federal, tribal, and local governments and nongovernmental organizations established to conduct landscape-scale biological planning and conservation design within designated areas. LCC staff work with other agency and conservation partners to plan, design, and evaluate landscape-scale conservation.(701 FW 2 Policy on Inventory and Monitoring in the NWRS).


What is a survey?

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service defines a survey as a formal effort designed to inventory or monitor natural resources. A survey requires a sampling design, data analysis, and reporting. (701 FW 2 Policy on Inventory and Monitoring in the NWRS).


What is an inventory?

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service defines an inventory as a survey that estimates the presence, abundance, or distribution of species, habitats, ecological communities, or abiotic features 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 wildlife population trends, disease incidence, climate change, 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. It is also considered a type of targeted monitoring.


What is a protocol?

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service defines a protocol as detailed instructions for conducting a survey. This includes information on sampling procedures, data collection, management and analysis, and reporting of results. Approved survey protocols promote continuity of data collection methods for both the duration of the survey on a refuge and among similar surveys on different refuges. This term collectively refers to a survey protocol framework and a site-specific survey protocol.(701 FW 2 Policy on Inventory and Monitoring in the NWRS).

  • Survey Protocol Framework. A survey protocol that was written for application at many locations, but lacks the site-specific information necessary to implement the protocol at an individual refuge (see the Survey Protocol Handbook).
  • Site-specific Survey Protocol. A complete set of instructions used to conduct a survey at a specific refuge. We typically develop these by adding site-specific instructions to a generalized protocol framework or by modifying a site-specific protocol that was developed for conducting a similar survey at another refuge.


What is an Inventory and Monitoring Plan (IMP)?

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service defines an IMP as the description, ranking, selection, and justification of surveys that a refuge intends to conduct using assigned protocols. The IMP includes a signature page documenting review and approval at the Regional level, an introduction linking the refuge’s primary purpose to surveys, and a description of the process used to prioritize surveys and assign a status for implementing them. The IMP also includes a narrative for each selected survey that summarizes the refuge management objectives addressed by the survey and justifies why the refuge selected the survey for implementation. A table summarizes characteristics of each survey, including the objectives, required costs, staff time, survey duration, and survey coordinator. (701 FW 2 Policy on Inventory and Monitoring in the NWRS).


What is PRIMR?

PRIMR (Planning and Reporting Inventory and Monitoring at Refuge) is a database developed by the I&M initiative that describes and archives the surveys conducted on refuges, and which is also used to generate summaries for an Inventory and Monitoring Plan. (701 FW 2 Policy on Inventory and Monitoring in the NWRS).


What is ServCat?

ServCat is the Service’s document catalog, which is an online repository designed to centralize and preserve Service information. It includes reports, annual narratives, management plans, geospatial data, inventory and monitoring plans, and survey protocols. (701 FW 2 Policy on Inventory and Monitoring in the NWRS).


Last updated: September 21, 2016