Conduct Surveys

Once you have your map view the way you want it (see Navigate the Map), there are just three easy steps to conducting a survey: indicating which species to survey for, designating which area to survey, and confirming the details of your survey.

Species to Return

By default, Surveyor is set to tell you about all the known at-risk species in your survey area. But sometime you might need to know only about species with legal status under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) or the Canadian Species at Risk Act (SARA). To narrow your survey to categories within these acts, check the appropriate boxes in the Species tab:

ESA Status Categories

  • Listed
    • Endangered
    • Threatened
    • Experimental
  • Proposed
    • Endangered
    • Threatened
  • Candidate

SARA Status Categories

  • Endangered
  • Threatened
  • Special Concern
  • Extirpated

Other at-risk categories, such as those under NatureServe’s Conservation Status ranks, are not yet available as survey criteria. Let us know if you want these, or other filter criteria, so we can prioritize our enhancements to the tool.

Area to Survey

NatureServe Surveyor compares an area you select on the interactive map against our network’s federated data and tells you whether an at-risk species is known to occur in that area; the size of your survey area determines the level of detail in your report. And the tool offers several ways to select that area, so you can be as precise as you need.

Important: No surveys of areas smaller than 2.6 square kilometers (1 square mile) are allowed; you will receive an error message if your survey area is smaller than this.

U.S. Counties

For surveys within the United States, you can select an entire county as your area.

  • To point to the one you want, click “Select from Map” (the U.S. Counties map layer will turn on automatically if it isn’t already), then click on the county on the map. (Note that “Select from Map” stays on until you turn it off or select a different tool.)
  • Or simply type the name of the county into the text box. Surveyor autofills the possible matches; point to the one you want, and the map will pan and zoom to that county and highlight it. Then click “Use Input County” to run your survey.

U.S. Watersheds

Everyone lives downstream, so it’s often helpful to understand impacts throughout a watershed. Surveyor lets you choose a watershed area from the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Hydrologic Unit Code (HUC) 8-digit Watershed Boundary Dataset.

  • To point to the one you want, click “Select from Map” (the U.S. Watersheds map layer will turn on automatically if it isn’t already), then click on the watershed on the map. (Note that “Select from Map” stays on until you turn it off or select a different tool.)
  • Or simply type the name of the watershed into the text box. Surveyor autofills the possible matches; point to the one you want, and the map will pan and zoom to that watershed and highlight it. Then click “Use Selected Watershed” to run your survey.

Since nature doesn’t recognize political boundaries, some of these “U.S. Watersheds” do include parts of Canada, and surveys conducted on them may return data from Canadian programs.

Current Map Extent

If you’ve zoomed in to the area you want to survey, simply click “Use Extent” to run your survey on it. The tool provides the coordinates and total area of the current extent, and updates these automatically as you pan and zoom. Note that the extent includes the map area behind the trays.

Radius

This tool gives lets you know what’s around a given point on the map. Enter the radius from the point you want to survey (be sure to select the unit of measure you want) and click “Start Radius,” then click once on the map at your center point. (Note that “Radius” stays on until you turn it off or select a different tool.)

Draw Area of Interest

Sometimes a perfect circle doesn’t quite cover it, so Surveyor lets you draw a polygon to survey.

  • A freehand drawing is just that—the outline follows wherever you drag your mouse on the map. Check “Freehand” and click the “Start Drawing” button to turn on the tool. Click your starting point on the map and hold your mouse button down while you drag the outline of your area. Release the mouse to finish; if your start and end points aren’t quite the same, the tool will close the area with a straight line.
  • To draw a straight-sided polygon, uncheck “Freehand” and click the “Start Drawing” button. Single-click the corner points of your polygon; double-click the last corner to finish the shape (the tool will close the area between your first and last points with a straight line).

Important: Survey areas cannot consist of multiple or overlapping polygons, so be sure not to cross over your lines while drawing.

Note that “Draw Area of Interest” stays on until you turn it off or select a different tool.

Input File

Surveyor is a GIS-based tool, so you can upload your own spatial file to work from. Simply click “Select a File” to point to it on your computer, then click submit. Your ...

  • File must be of type KML, GML, or zipped SHP
  • File must contain a single polygon
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Confirm Details

Whatever survey area you choose, you’ll get a confirmation box telling you the details of your selection and the report level you’ll get. Be sure this is the correct survey area—once you click “Survey,” your subscription is charged for that query.