Application of State Natural Heritage Program Databases for Biodiversity Planning and Research: Examples from the Oklahoma Natural Heritage Inventory

Authors: Todd Fagin*, University of Oklahoma
Topics: Biogeography, Coupled Human and Natural Systems, Environment
Keywords: Natural Heritage Programs, Oklahoma, Biodiversity, Databases, Conservation
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In 1974, the Nature Conservancy, in conjunction with South Carolina’s state wildlife program, initiated the first state natural heritage program with the goal of providing a consistent methodology for collecting and management of biodiversity data. Today, natural heritage programs exist in all 50 states, as well as throughout Canada’s provinces and several Central American countries. The Oklahoma Natural Heritage Inventory (ONHI), established in 1977, was among the first such programs and was integrated into the Oklahoma Biological Survey at the University of Oklahoma in 1987. ONHI is legislatively mandated to maintain dynamic, georeferenced information on the state's biological diversity, including rare and endangered species, species of special concern, and significant ecological communities. ONHI biologists conduct field inventories to find and evaluate occurrences of species and communities throughout the state. These data, as well as biodiversity data collated from a variety of sources, are stored within the Oklahoma Biodiversity Information System (OBIS) for dissemination to researchers, state and federal policy makers, educators, and other interested parties. ONHI is also one of the few state heritage programs located at a university and that effectively services as both a research unit and a program of a state agency. We present several ongoing ONHI projects, including collaboration with other state heritage programs through the NatureServe network, to demonstrate the role state natural heritage programs can play to inform biogeographic knowledge, assess biodiversity and species rarity, provide consistent methodology and standards for data storage and dissemination, and aid biodiversity conservation from the local to global.

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