- research on plants, animals, and ecological communities of
- collection and dissemination of information through various
- educational opportunities for UNM undergraduate and graduate
students, through participation in database and research efforts;
- participation in local and regional conservation planning,
in cooperation with governmental and non-governmental entities.
A major strength of NHNM is its participation in a nationwide
database network of biodiversity information. NHNM is a member
of the NatureServe
a network linking databases from Natural Heritage Programs and
Conservation Data Centers in 50 states, 10 Canadian provinces,
and 12 Latin American countries. This powerful network uses standardized
methods to summarize data at regional, national, and international
scales. The information is compiled and maintained in a computerized
database which provides information on the status, locations and
level of protection of these rare organisms and communities.
Why NHNM was Established
Accurate and reliable information is essential to the responsible
management and conservation of the natural biological resources
of New Mexico. In recognition of this need, the New Mexico Natural
Heritage Program was established in 1990, as a joint project of
the University of New Mexico and The
. NHNM is now entirely integrated into
the Department of Biology at the University of New Mexico. The
mission of NHNM is to contribute to the responsible management
of New Mexico's biological resources through research, education,
information dissemination, and planning.
Natural Heritage New Mexico staff, in cooperation with
scientists and experts throughout the state, have identified New
Mexico's most vulnerable vertebrate animals, vascular plants,
and natural plant communities. Information on the biology, conservation
status, and individual locations or "occurrences" of each element
is systematically collected. Each of these rare and endangered
species and plant communities is assigned a global
conservation status rank, according to an objective set of criteria
established by the Association for Biodiversity Information. Once
identified, these rare elements of biodiversity are "tracked"
in the NMNH Natural Heritage Information System
. NHNM also compiles records on protected areas in
the state, such as National Parks, State Parks, Ecological Reserves,
Nature Trust Properties, and Wildlife Management Areas. When an
endangered species or natural plant community occurs within a
protected area, the records are linked, making it possible to
determine if this rare entity is in need of conservation action,
or if it is already adequately protected.
NM Biotics is integrated with the other important functions of
NHNM. Basic and applied research contribute data to NM Biotics
and specialized databases and to planning efforts, and NM Biotics
provides information necessary for research efforts and management.
Student technicians gain valuable experience while contributing
to research and database projects.
Advantages of NHNM Approach
Centralized Data Source
At NHNM, information is available from a single source. Staff
collect and assemble information from museums, herbaria, universities,
published and unpublished reports, scientists, natural history
groups, and the ongoing work of NHNM staff and contractors.
Objective Information in a Consistent Format
All records accepted for entry in NHNM databases have been carefully
screened and verified by information specialists. Each location
record for a rare species or natural
is systematically augmented with a standard
set of spatial, ecological, and administrative boundary attributes
and rated for level of geographical precision and protection.
Rigorous quality control procedures minimize transcription and
data entry errors.
NHNM databases are permanent and dynamic. Records are entered
and edited on a daily basis using specialized database management
software, and the data collecting process is continuous. The value
of the database increases with each year of operation.
Data is Protected
NHNM databases contain records which are sensitive for
ecological, academic, or other reasons, or because they occur
on private property. These records fall under the exemption provisions
of the Freedom of Information Act and WILL NOT be released to
the public. Such records are normally listed in reports without
location information attached, but with a contact address provided
so the reason for protection of the record can be discussed. Exceptions
are made only under specified circumstances, with the understanding
that this information will not be released to the general public.
A primary goal of NHNM is to make data available, and software
is specifically designed to generate customized reports. Information
is provided to anyone making a written
. In most cases, the information required will be available
within two to three weeks.