Iowa's Multiple Species Inventory and Monitoring (MSIM) Program

American Bittern  Bobcat  Snapping Turtle

Iowa’s Multiple Species Inventory and Monitoring Program (MSIM) was developed between 2004 and 2006 as a collaborative effort between the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and Iowa State University with funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Iowa Wildlife Action Plan (IWAP, 2015) lists 405 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, mussels, dragonflies, butterflies, and terrestrial snails as species of greatest conservation need (SGCN). The IWAP states that one of the primary conservation actions is to ‘develop scientifically reliable knowledge on the distribution, abundance, and ecological needs of all wildlife species” (IWAP, page 99). The primary purpose of this projectis to implement the field protocols and data analyses needed to implement the MSIM Program.

My lab at Iowa State University has helped coordinate MSIM activities since 2011. Carolyn Moore, Assistant Scientist I, is responsible for the day-to-day activities of MSIM at ISU including hiring (20-25 seasonal field technicians yearly), project reporting, and disseminating the results through public talks and peer-reviewed papers. The purpose of the MSIM Program is to collect data on as many species as possible within the bird, mammal, herpetofauna, fish, butterfly, mussel, crayfish, dragonfly and damselfly taxonomic groups. The lack of species specific information on the abundance and distribution of SGCN was one of the concerns highlighted in the 2006 IWAP. In some cases, species were added to the list simply because the information was outdated or unavailable. The amount and distribution of potential wildlife habitat is comparatively well known, but in order to relate habitat information directly to wildlife on a smaller (site) scale, data will also be collected on habitat. The program is a direct result of the IWAP need for information on SGCN locations and status. Of the 6 visions described in the IWAP, three visions (Wildlife Populations, Wildlife Habitats, and Wildlife Management) need information from the MSIM Program to evaluate whether those goals are being met. Under the priorities for the conservation actions in the IWAP, the MSIM data will be critical to meet each of the three priorities (Protecting existing areas with high diversity, Developing new habitats for SGCN, and Improving the status of the aquatic SGCN).

The quantifiable objectives for this project at present are to:

  1. Conduct MSIM surveys for birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, fish, mussels, butterflies, odonates, and crayfish on 50 Wildlife Management Areas annually during 2020-2022.
  2. Conduct MSIM surveys on 10-20 additional properties in 2020, 2021, and 2022, if funding allows.
  3. Enter collected data into the MSIM on-line database, submit county occurrence records to the appropriate Iowa WAP taxonomic subcommittee, provide additionally requested information to the IWAP subcommittees as requested, and change database records as advised.
  4. Analyze data using (but not limited to): Proportion of area occupied and species density (where applicable) using habitat variables from the field and/or GIS where applicable.