Nature-Mapping:  Iowa's Citizen-Driven Wildlife Monitoring Program

James L. Pease, Faculty, Natural Resource Ecology and Management


There are not enough wildlife professionals to properly track Iowas wildlife populations.  Besides, by training and engaging citizens of all ages in such an effort, we get not only valuable information but also educate Iowans about the resources that are, in fact, theirs.  Through such engagement, Iowans gain ownership of those resources and are more engaged in their management as a result.  We want to keep common species common and avoid having more wild species become threatened and endangered.  Since nearly all of Iowa land is in private ownership, it is critical that we engage private citizens with the land that they own.


To train Iowans how to properly collect accurate data on the locations and species of terrestrial vertebrate species (mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians) and submit those records to an on-line database.


Since the programs inception in 1999, over 1,000 Iowans have participated in the Level I, 6-hour workshops.  There are now over 1,500 monitoring sites in the state.  These citizen scientists have submitted over 53,000 records of some 358 species of Iowa wildlife!


Iowa scientists are now using these citizen-derived data as a beginning point to further, more in-depth studies.  The data fill in the gaps of knowledge about wildlife species and their distribution that were revealed by the recently completed National Gap Analysis Program of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and have been used to help write the recently completed State Wildlife Plans by the Iowa DNR.  Work is being done on an enhanced website that will allow more interactivity and allow Iowans to analyze their data and compare it to others.

September 2006

150 - Environmental Stewardship

Page last updated: September 13, 2006
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