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Project monitors wildlife on Iowa lands

Published: Friday, April 5, 2013 11:25 a.m. CST

Seasonal technicians are visiting public lands across Iowa in an effort to monitor Iowa’s wildlife populations. The Iowa Multiple Species Inventory and Monitoring Program is an ongoing research project started in 2006 and is a joint effort between the Iowa DNR and Iowa State University.  

The goals of the project are to gather information on the population trends and distribution of mammals, birds, fish, amphibians, reptiles, dragonflies, and butterflies.

Tyler Harms, MSIM biologist working jointly for ISU and the DNR, said this project is a critical part of the effort to conserve Iowa’s wildlife.  

“Information collected as part of MSIM will not only allow us to annually assess the status of various wildlife species, but will also provide information to guide habitat management decisions to benefit those species,” Harms said.

Iowa’s MSIM program was modeled after a similar program the U.S. Forest Service uses.  

“Sharing similar methodologies will allow Iowa’s information to be compared to data collected elsewhere within the United States,” said Karen Kinkead, wildlife diversity program coordinator for the DNR.

Stephen Dinsmore, Associate Professor at Iowa State University and co-principal investigator for the project, is excited about the information MSIM will provide to guide habitat management on public lands.

Approximately 75 public properties across Iowa will be surveyed for nine wildlife groups from April 1 – October 31.  In addition, habitat characteristics will be measured on each property in order to relate those characteristics to the wildlife present on the property.  

Since 2006, MSIM has surveyed nearly 300 public properties, found 630 of the 1,006 wildlife species currently known to Iowa, and added six new species to the state’s list of dragonflies.

“The project is funded through 2014, but our goal is to continue this monitoring effort far into the future,” said Harms.

MSIM is one of only a few similar projects implemented in other states and will provide information for natural resource professionals to effectively conserve Iowa’s wildlife for future generations.

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