Structured Decision Making Webinar Series

Pink Flamingo

How do we make good conservation decisions?

To help answer this question, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has developed a series of web conferences to engage practitioners in the process of structured decision making using a variety of case studies. Structured Decision Making (SDM) is a decision analysis framework that we can apply to conservation problems to integrate strong science with values, laws, and policies. Conservation issues often involve multiple goals and actions, levels of uncertainty, and a complex understanding of systems. SDM helps conservation professionals develop a process to determine objectives, alternatives, and optimal solutions for environmental issues.


Tuesday, June 25th, 2013 at 1:00 – 2:30 PM (EST)


Date: Tuesday, June 25th, 2013
Time: 1:00 – 2:30 PM (EST)
Topic: Developing a surrogate species approach to landscape conservation for the USFWS’ Midwest Region
Captioning: At the start of the event, close captioning will be available for this webinar at:
Archive: All webinars, including questions and answers, are recorded and available in the Structured Decision Making Webinar Archive.
  • Sean Blomquist, Ph.D.; Zone Biologist; US Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Pat Heglund, Ph.D.; Chief, Division of Biological Resources and Region Refuge Biologist; US Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Lori Nordstrom; Partners for Fish & Wildlife Regional Coordinator; US Fish & Wildlife Service
Description: We used a rapid prototyping process to explore how to implement the draft Guidance on Selecting Species for Design of Landscape‐scale Conservation in the Midwest region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The draft guidance was released by the USFWS in July 2012 as the agency’s initial step toward implementation of Strategic Habitat Conservation. Currently, we have developed, prototyped and refined a draft process for steps 1‐6 (selecting surrogate species) and step 8‐9 (checking logic and assumptions) of the guidance, and we will describe our results to date. Our initial prototype focused on USFWS cross‐programmatic implementation, and we developed a process to define a functional landscape. Further, we explored how surrogate species could be used to evaluate our effectiveness in achieving USFWS conservation objectives based on hypothetical objectives and species information for the Eastern Tallgrass Prairie and Big River Landscape Conservation Cooperative (LCC) geography. Based on the results of the initial prototype process, we are now working alongside representatives from state wildlife agencies to further refine the process.

We have formed two teams, an oversight team, to help with internal and external engagement and communication, and a technical team that is continuing to develop the species selection and landscape assessment processes. Through USFWS and state wildlife agency collaboration, we are refining the process developed during the initial prototype by integrating species data for approximately 2900 priority species identified from sources such as State Wildlife Action Plans and State and Federal Endangered Species Act lists for each of the Eastern Tallgrass Prairie and Big River LCC and Upper Midwest and Great Lakes LCC geographies. One potential long‐term application of the selected surrogate species is a decision tool to aid the USFWS to take site‐scale conservation actions in high‐priority locations that contribute to a shared regional‐ and LCC‐scale vision.


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  • Donna C. Brewer; Applied Landscape Conservation NCTC Climate Change Coordinator;
    U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, National Conservation Training Center, 698 Conservation Way, Shepherdstown, WV 25443
    Office: 304 876-7451
    Fax: 304 876-7234

  • Christy Coghlan; Applied Landscape Conservation Course Leader;
    U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Conservation Training Center, 698 Conservation Way, Shepherdstown, WV 25443
    Office: 304.876.7438
    Fax: 304 876 7234