Developmental Training for Biological Planning

Are you involved with Biological Planning?  (Use of replicable procedures to derive measurable biological outcomes and identify limiting factors) .

Below is a list of Competencies and Developmental training opportunities for Biological Planning.

Identify Priority Species

Only some species that inhabit an ecoregion are Federal trust responsibilities, and, of these, a smaller subset represents priority species. Although the FWS seeks to benefit all species and to contribute to the health, integrity and biological diversity of ecosystems, we have an obligation to benefit trust species first and foremost. Ideally the needs of all trust species will be addressed with equal energy, but with limited resources, it becomes necessary to prioritize.

Select Focal Species

The use of focal species can provide a biologically sound method for choosing a subset of priority species to aid in Biological Planning and Conservation Design. Although the term may have different meanings among various programs, for the purpose of this document, focal species represent larger guilds of species that use habitats similarly. Generally, focal species are selected based on knowledge that factors limiting their populations are sensitive to landscape scale characteristics, such as land cover composition or connectivity. By addressing the needs of focal species, other trust species within a guild are expected to benefit. However, we should always evaluate the assumption that other species in a guild respond similarly to focal species. In the end, biologists must balance the specifics of their ecoregion, availability of data and information, and programmatic obligations to select an appropriate subset of priority species.

Formulate Population Objectives

A population objective represents a measurable expression of a desired outcome. Population objectives are expressed as abundance, trend, vital rates, or other measurable indices of population status, and they are based on the best biological information about what constitutes a healthy population.

Assess the Current State of Species Populations

If population objectives describe where we want to end up, the current state describes our starting point. If the current population occurs below the objective, the difference represents a conservation deficit. When habitat insufficiencies contribute to the conservation deficit, SHC aims to lay out and then follow an efficient route to make up the deficit at the lowest cost, consistent with other goals of FWS programs (e.g., public access). Obviously, to compare population objectives to the current state of populations, the two must have equivalent terms of reference.

Identify Limiting Factors

Informed assumptions about the factors limiting populations or ecosystem function are critical to developing an efficient conservation strategy.

Compile and Apply Models Describing population-Habitat Relationships

Models are useful descriptions of what we know or assume about how a population responds to habitat particularly the factors limiting the potential of the habitat to sustain selected species. We use models to assess the current state of the ecosystem in terms of its ability to support populations, and to determine how best to make up the population deficit and attain our desired objective.