DoD Biodiversity Conservation Handbook
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Chapter 6: Managing for Threatened, Endangered, and Sensitive Species

Inventories are Critical



Members of the Kansas Biological Survey assist MSgt Kurt Keeler, range natural resources officer, in conducting a botanical survey of the Smoky Hill Air National Guard Range, Kansas. Careful biological surveys are the first step in establishing a successful endangered species management program. (Photo: Douglas Ripley)

A baseline species inventory is essential for the protection of listed species. Inventories form the foundation of any natural resources program, since such resources cannot be managed without clear knowledge of what and where they are. Sources of resources for developing baseline inventories are varied and numerous. Some examples include:

Baseline inventories should be viewed as starting points, not ends unto themselves. Rare species or those that are secretive by their nature are less likely to be detected in a one-time inventory, so continued inventory and monitoring should be a cornerstone of any natural resources program. As an example, at Arnold Air Force Base (AAFB) extensive surveys were conducted for reptiles and amphibians as a part of the baseline inventory. However, one species, the barking tree frog (Hyla gratiosa), which is a state listed species in Tennessee, wasn't detected until two years after the baseline inventory. Researchers heard the frog calling from an isolated wetland while conducting monitoring for other species – whip-poor-wills and chuck-will's-widow. Similarly, the secretive scarlet snake was not detected until six years after the initial inventory.

Highly mobile species, such as migratory birds, must also be considered, as they might not have been present during the baseline inventory. At AAFB, the management regime for grasslands was changed from annual mowing to prescribed burning for the then threatened Eggert's sunflower. Following this change, Henslow's sparrow was detected breeding for the first time. The bird community at these sites was well documented prior to the management change as part of a Partners in Flight monitoring program, so it is highly unlikely that this species was there previously.2

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About This Chapter's Author
John Lamb is a conservation biologist.

Kevin Willis is a plant ecologist.

George R. Wyckoff is a wildlife ecologist at Arnold AFB, Tennessee.

Literature Cited
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