The Scientific Excellence Implementation Team has been taking  steps toward  Conserving the Future: Wildlife Refuges and the Next Generation that “we are committed to a culture of scientific excellence, adhering to the highest standards of integrity and transparency, and are viewed as valued contributors to the broader scientific community.”

To achieve that vision, we have been working on implementing four recommendations

  • Recommendation 6: Provide each refuge with the resources to implement adaptive management
  • Recommendation 7: Institutionalize inventory and monitoring and develop a state-of-the-art data management system
  • Recommendation 9: Develop a deliberate research agenda for the Refuge System
  • Recommendation 10: Become a major contributor to the scientific community through publishing, presenting, and engaging with partners to solve conservation problems

Our charge has been broad and we have many exciting things in the works for improving science in the Refuge System, and ultimately across the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

We are working to develop a simple and concise Adaptive Management Handbook that will demonstrate adaptive management applications, with examples of where it has worked and where it has not in order to learn from previous experiences and improve implementing in the future.

FWS employee measuring mallard eggs for a study. (Credit: USFWS)

Our team has been working on developing state-of-the-art data management and sharing systems to serve many purposes, including storing adaptive management projects, inventory and monitoring information, and refuge research needs. These systems will allow us to be more efficient with our resources and share with partners more effectively.

To make sure we know where we’re headed, the Natural Resources Program Center (NRPC) has been developing an Inventory and Monitoring Roadmap for the next 7 years. To ensure consistency across refuges, NRPC has been developing guidance on writing survey protocols. Work is underway to develop survey protocols for marshbirds, landbirds, and bee pollinators.

We are also working to ensure refuge scientists have access to the resources necessary to be effective scientists, which includes developing an online Science Toolbox that will serve as a one-stop shop for all science-related policy, guidance, and tools in the Service.

Morris Wetland Management District, Minnesota (USFWS)

Many of the goals in Conserving the Future require similar approaches from multiple implementation teams. We are working closely with the Leadership Development Council’s workforce subteam that is working to address where our skills gaps lie regarding the many challenges in the vision such as strengthening science and conducting landscape-level planning.

Additionally, many of these efforts transcend the Refuge System.  Vision and concerns are shared among numerous Service entities and solutions will be found in a “One Service” approach. To that end, the Science Team continues to engage broad segments of the Service work force as we strive to enhance our culture of commitment to scientific excellence across the Service.

This blog was written by the Scientific Excellence Implementation Team.

*This is the seventh “In the Spotlight” blog post that will keep you informed on the nine implementation teams and the work they are performing to make the vision a reality. Check out our Facebook page and Twitter for continual updates!