Biological Assessment and Ecological Research & Monitoring

Habitat and wildlife monitoring are important and often required to evaluate the success of a restoration project and/or monitor the change in species communities. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Section 404 permit requires five years of plant monitoring after native species planting occurs to determine growth, condition, and survivorship of the plants in revegetated habitats. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service requires endangered species monitoring during habitat construction to detect the effect of construction these on these species populations. FPC biologists have extensive experience designing the appropriate vegetation monitoring plan that includes a variety of methods that are suitable for answering the project questions. Methods incorporated are multiple random and systematic vegetation survey techniques to evaluate restoration success and wildlife habitat, including: transects, nested plots, cover quadrats, total vegetation volume (TVV), and point intercept. These methods have been employed at 15 riparian and wetland restored sites along the Lower Colorado River and beyond.

FPC has conducted long-term endangered species surveys for the southwestern willow flycatcher and marsh bird surveys in the Yuma East Wetlands (YEW) since the project conception in 2004. FPC was also contracted to conduct marsh bird surveys at Picacho Reservoir, Pinal County, AZ. The firm uses a certified and permitted biologist to conduct endangered species surveys using the most updated protocols from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Arizona Game and Fish Department.

Finally, FPC biology staff is experienced in creating a variety of study designs to answer any biological questions. FPC biology staff is proficient in many wildlife survey methods including: area searches, variable circular counts, transects and point counts for resident and migrating bird species; small mammal trapping; herpetofaunal pit trap and fencing arrays; and pit trap, malaise trap, black lighting, sweep net, kick net, and Hess sampling for terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates. FPC conducted two large scale wildlife research projects during 2007-2008 and 2011, which totaled almost $300,000. These projects were conducted to determine the effect of riparian and wetland habitat restoration on the recovery of bird, invertebrate, herpetofauna and mammal communities. The 2007-2008 study provided valuable baseline information on restored (YEW and Yuma West Wetlands) and reference habitats (Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge), which helped focus the 2011 study on breeding riparian and wetland birds and butterflies. FPC believes in a holistic approach to habitat restoration and evaluating wildlife recovery can help establish success criteria for habitat restoration, help determine if restoration techniques are sufficient to address the needs of the wildlife community, and, if necessary, can help redefine restoration strategies. In order to statistically analyze data, FPC biology staff uses the most current software of PC-ORD, SPSS, and Excel. These studies are highlighted in the power point links below.

Services Offered

Endangered Species Plans
Includes those for southwestern willow flycatcher and Yuma clapper rail.

Project Monitoring Plans
Includes evaluating vegetation growth rates and cover, endangered species surveys, wildlife community recovery, monitoring location and design and determining restoration project success.

Biological Community Research
Includes avian, herpetofaunal, invertebrate and mammalian monitoring, community evaluation and surveys. Biological Evaluations and Biological Assessments