Saving Wildlife: Species Checklists

Introduction:  The Human Impact

The growing human population is wiping out Earth’s resources and many plant and animal species.  Scientists are calling this the Earth’s sixth mass extinction event.  They say that we are extinguishing species between 100 and 1,000 times faster than the average rate throughout Earth history.

We can’t seem to do anything about the human population boom, so we can’t stop species extinctions.  We can sometimes intervene to save a species.  We can return species to places they formerly occupied, and we can protect or restore damaged habitats.  Of course, we have to know that species are declining before we can decide to intervene.  The only way to know how most species are doing is to conduct repeated field surveys.  On foot, clipboard in hand.

Species Checklists

Species checklists are basic survey tools used by both professional and amateur naturalists.  Checklists can serve as notebooks for recording locations and dates.  They can include numbers, gender, age, and habitat conditions.  They can have photographs and movies attached.

The ideal checklist covers a small area such as a park, neighborhood, valley, or mountain.  Few ideal checklists are available.  Individuals that make repeated lists of species sighted in a small area create a valuable resource for monitoring species populations.

This post is the first in a series covering common species groups found in Arizona.  In each post, I describe the group’s conservation status, list some references, and include a complete species checklist.  The checklist can be used anywhere in Arizona to build a unique list for that location. All the checklists are included in the Arizona Wildlife Notebook.

Please help.  If you spot an error or omission, or if you know of a published checklist, add a comment to the post.  Thank you.


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