Procedures: Rare animal surveys

Hoop net in a wetland.
Hoop nets are used to capture turtles in shallow wetlands.

Photo by C. D. Hall.

MCBS animal surveys are conducted to:

  • document new locations of rare animals and animal aggregations.
  • document new county and state records for animals.
  • better understand the current distribution and abundance of animals in the state.

1. Review of existing information

Prior to conducting field surveys for rare animals and animal aggregations in a particular county or region, information is reviewed about the landscape and the animals that may be present. Some of the sources consulted are museum and historical records of rare animals and animal aggregations, satellite imagery, aerial photos, soil and topographic maps, and recommendations from MCBS plant ecologists and land managers.

2. Selection of targeted animals and survey sites

Based on review of existing information, the rare animals and animal aggregations likely to be present in the county or ecological unit are identified.

Sites that appear to contain areas of preferred habitat for the targeted animals and animal aggregations are identified and ground reconnaissance is done to determine the suitability of the sites.

3. Field surveys

4. Information management

Data collected during the animal surveys are recorded on field forms, as electronic data files, and as museum voucher specimens. After field surveys are completed:

  • All records of rare animals are entered into the Rare Features Database of the Natural Heritage Information System.
  • Voucher specimens receive final curation and are deposited into the J. F. Bell Museum of Natural History, University of Minnesota.
  • Other information about sites and survey activities are entered into the MCBS Site Database.
  • Zoologists prepare or contribute information to site evaluations of sites important to rare animals and animal aggregations. These site evaluations are used to guide conservation activity, such as special management to protect the rare species and native plant communities, or acquisition as a park or natural area.