Wildlife Refuges
Southwest Region
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Division of Biological Services

The Division of Biological Sciences provides expertise, technical assistance and scientific approaches to resource issues with the Region. The Division focuses on providing robust, defensible and transparent scientific information and assistance to the National Wildlife Refuge System.

We support the Southwest National Wildlife Refuge System biological program and other FWS Divisions through - Project design, implementation, analysis and reporting - Quantitative biology, Statistics, GIS, Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis.

We support other FWS Divisions, agencies and other partners, both on and off refuges, through collaboration and partnerships on priority natural resource projects.

We support inventory and monitoring efforts that:  builds our scientific capacity and addresses priority work are defensible and transparent, accountable and maintain and build our science credibility and support such as;

  • Evaluating use of artificial drinkers and impacts to desert bighorn sheep and mountain lions on and/or near our Sonoran and Chihuahuan Desert refuges in Arizona (Kofa and Cabeza Prieta) and New Mexico(San Andres) and partner sites within the Mohave Desert through use of camera traps and iButton weather stations.
  • Quantifying and evaluating trends in waterfowl numbers, timing chronology and spatial use of National Wildlife Refuges residing in the Central Flyway, on a per species and refuge basis.
  • Determining status and synergy of Playa Wetlands by developing spatial model using 1970-2010 hydrological condition data to document effects of climate change and other factors and to estimate changes in potential available habitat conditions for waterfowl use during the winter period on the Texas High Plains.
  • Initiated long-term inventory and monitoring for endangered ocelots over large spatial scales on/near our South Texas Refuges by using large spatial array of camera traps to locate ocelots, then once a threshold # of occurrences is reached, utilize an adaptive/more intensive camera sampling effort to estimate local abundance.
  • Whooping cranes:  1) Developing new census technique to estimate crane #’s  that arrive Aransas NWR in early winter and those #’s leaving in spring.
  • Golden Cheeked Warblers – Balcones Canyonlands NWR - Objective: Map remaining habitat of the GCW across its entire range: 35 counties in the Balcones Canyonlands, from San Antonio to southwest of Dallas/Fort Worth.
  • Forest habitat management and monitoring for Eastern Oklahoma and Texas: Our objective is to evaluate the effect of silviculture treatments on bottomland hardwood forests and the response of the neo-tropical migratory bird community at Little River NWR. Our analysis will allow us to determine if the established monitoring effort is sufficient to detect and track responses in the habitat and bird communities attributable to forest management. This effort will serve as the basis to expand forest monitoring to refuges throughout eastern Oklahoma and Texas.
  • Annual monitoring of Ozark big-eared bats at essential caves: Use of visual and infrared videography counts to document population changes, to identify period, time of use, and importance of maternity and hibernacula sites, as well as, response to annual climatic variation and climate change. This information will be used to determine effectiveness of management and fulfillment of Ozark Plateau NWR’s purpose.
  • Collaboration with NPS in conducting Invasive Species inventories and early detection survey pilot project using established NPS protocols to compare with FWS pilot projects
  • Collaboration with Division of Fire Management to create Fire Atlas’s for Southwest refuges.
  • Collaboration with Division of Water Resources to conduct Hydrogeomorphic (HGM) evaluations and Water Resource Inventory Assessments on refuges.
  • Collaboration with Ecological Services, Regional and National Pollinator and Inventory and Monitoring Coordinators to conduct native bee inventory pilot projects on Colorado River Refuges and on/near Buffalo Lake and Muleshoe NWR’s using draft standardized protocol
Last updated: March 27, 2018