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Wildlife terminology
adaptive management. A system of practices based on clearly identified outcomes and monitoring
to determine if management actions are meeting desired outcomes, and if not, to facilitate
management changes that will best ensure that outcomes are met or reevaluated. Adaptive
management stems from the recognition that knowledge about natural resource systems is
sometimes uncertain.
biological diversity. The variety of life from the genetic make‐up of species to
populations, habitats, and ecosystems.
connectivity. Spatial continuity of habitat or a cover type across a landscape.
critical habitat. As used in the Endangered Species Act, for threatened and endangered species
means (1) the specific areas within the geographical area occupied by the species , at the time it is
listed on which are found the physical or biological features (a) essential to the conservation of the
species and (b) which may require special management considerations or protection; and (2)
specific areas outside the geographical area occupied by the species at the time it is listed upon a
determination from the Secretary of Interior that such areas are essential for the conservation of the
dispersal. The movement of an animal from its natal area (place where it was born) to a new area
where it lives and reproduces (if it survives that long).
ecological traps. Areas that attract wildlife because they appear to be suitable (e.g., for nesting),
but become population sinks because of predation or human disturbance.
endangered species. As defined under the Endangered Species Act, species in danger of
becoming extinct throughout all or a significant portion of their range.
exotic or non-native species. Wildlife species that are not native to the place where they are found.
North American examples include brown trout, bullfrogs, European starlings, ringed‐neck
pheasants, wild boar, nutria, and Persian wild goats.
focal species. A suite of plants or animals whose requirements for persistence define the attributes
that must be present if a landscape is to meet the requirements for all species that occur there
(Lambeck 1997). A small subset of taxa whose status permits inference to the integrity of the larger
ecological system to which it belongs and provides meaningful information regarding the
effectiveness of the plan in maintaining or restoring the ecological conditions to maintain the
diversity of plant and animal communities in the plan area.
habitat. A physical location with the resources and conditions present that produce occupancy—
including survival and reproduction, or both—by a given organism. Habitat is organism-specific; it
relates the presence of a species, population, or individual (animal or plant) to an area’s physical
and biological characteristics. Habitat implies more than vegetation or vegetation structure; it is the
sum of the specific resources that are needed by organisms.
habitat quality. The ability of the environment to provide conditions appropriate for individual and
population persistence; a continuous variable, ranging from low to high, and based on resources
available for survival, reproduction, and population persistence.
habitat selection. A hierarchical process involving a series of innate and learned behavioral
decisions made by an animal about what habitat it would use at different scales of the environment
(Morrison et al. 2006).
habitat type. The vegetation association in an area or the area that will be occupied by that
association as plant succession advances.
keystone species. A species whose impact on the community or ecosystem is disproportionately
large relative to its abundance.
landscape ecology. Focuses on how ecological processes operate across large spatial scales.
limiting factors. Environmental features or conditions that exist at a suboptimal level and prevent a
population from increasing. These conditions may not be continuously effective but may only occur
at some critical period during the year.
management indicator species (MIS). A USDA Forest Service designation of plant and animal
taxa, communities, or special habitats selected for emphasis in planning that are monitored during
forest plan implementation to assess the effects of management activities.
metapopulation. Several groups of individuals of the same species within some larger area, where
migration from one local group to at least some other patches typically is possible. These groups
are sufficiently separated so that each group experiences different environmental events, resulting in
each group having a different potential for extinction, which may be followed by recolonization
from a neighboring group.
population. A biologically, geographically, or politically defined group of animals composed of all
of the individuals of a species in a particular area; the individuals in a population may or may not
breed with other groups of that species in other places.
sensitive species. Plants and animals identified by a USDA Forest Service region for which
population viability is a concern, as evidenced by (1) significant current or predicted downward
trends in population numbers or density, or (2) significant current or predicted downward trends in
habitat capability that would reduce a species' existing distribution.
surrogate (species). Species that are used to represent other species or aspects of the environment
to attain a conservation objective.
threatened species. Defined under the Endangered Species Act as those species likely to become
endangered in the foreseeable future.
umbrella species. An organism, usually a mammal or bird, whose conservation confers protection
to a large number of naturally co-occurring organisms; the umbrella species concept is used in
conservation planning as a shortcut method for maintaining biodiversity (Roberge and Angelstam