The Fish and Wildlife Information Exchange has been actively involved in assisting state, federal, tribal, and nongovernmental organizations in the development of species information systems and databases since 1985. We have developed systems throughout North America for marine, terrestrial, and freshwater aquatic systems primarily for vertebrates and selected invertebrates. These systems are designed to provide a central point from which an agency or organization can compile, manage, and retrieve most of the pertinent information about the species of plants and animals that occur in their area of interest be it a state, county, or country. These systems store information about species taxonomy, status, distribution, habitat associations, environmental parameters, life history, management practices, food habits, and references. Each piece of information is linked to a citation just as any scientific document would be. Compilation of the data permits multi-species analyses and information retrieval that is unique to these systems. For instance, retrieving a list of habitat associations for all the amphibians that occur in one watershed of New Mexico is a simple and straightforward query that would be exceedingly time-consuming and expensive if the information was not already organized and ready for use in a species information system.
These systems are used daily in many U.S. states, one Canadian Province, and in Belize, Central America. They are used for conservation planning, environmental review, project siting, extension, research, education, and many other purposes.
One spinoff benefit of developing these systems has been the acquisition and archiving of many electronic species accounts in our Master Species File. We plan on making many of these species accounts available over the WWW, and with the help of our cooperators and sponsors, we hope to have over 10,000 species accounts available in the near future.