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Connecting Conservation Corp.'s Fundraiser:

Enhancing Assessments of Endangered Species

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THE STORY:

We need your help streamlining the process to evaluate petitions for listing species as federally Threatened or Endangered

Fifteen state fish and wildlife agencies as well as many federal agencies, nonprofit organizations, universities, and others are joining forces to tackle a wicked problem: the rise in petitions to list species as federally protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. We need your help matching government investments in new collaborative activities to increase the quantity and quality of information available for assessing the petitions and assisting with the species' conservation.

Connecting Conservation is asking the public for matching funds to support this innovation

Hundreds of species were recently petitioned to be federally listed as Threatened or Endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, and it is likely that many more species will be in the near future. In order to assist the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 15 southeastern states and Wildlife Management Institute with this massive workload, we are coordinating the communications and data management of a Southeast At-Risk Species (SEARS) Program. One component of this innovative program is the “crowdsourcing” of knowledge and data about petitioned species, whereby subject matter experts are asked to help compile information needed for the species assessment process.

One of our roles is to provide tools and training to subject matter experts so that they can focus on completing sections of documents that will be reviewed during the assessments. These documents contain descriptions, with citations, of the species’ life history and status, tables of threats and proposed actions, a registry of research and monitoring projects, links to recommended data collection protocols, data repositories that contain historical observations as well as bookmarks to other online resources.

The resulting crowdsourced products, along with any other available data and information will then be used by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to assess whether the petitions are warranted. Further, these tools, information and expert communities will persist for determining other ways to improve the efficiency and comprehensiveness of the species assessment process and to help mitigate species population declines when they are occurring. 

It's difficult to simplify the scope of at-risk species assessments...

  • Every species is different
  • There are complex relationships among species, their habitats, their threats, and their conservation actions
  • There are complex relationships among people, knowledge, data and information products
  • Data and information are useful and necessary in determining if the petitions are warranted

So... Simplify the process!

Communicate using social networking methods:

  • Increase opportunities for access to information
  • Increase opportunities for collaboration
  • Increase opportunities for serendipity, epiphanies and innovation

Use databases to organize connections among people and things:

  • Allow for data and information to be “rolled-up” across species:
  • Automate to reduce/remove unnecessary tasks and duplication
  • Provide workflows that are intuitive and standardized
  • Provide simple forms to contribute knowledge in the formats that are most useful and extensible.

Allow for data and information to be “rolled-up” across species:

  • Example: What are the most common threats to at-risk species
  • Suggestions: provide focus while allowing for innovation
  • Integrate existing tools and workflows when possible

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