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  Iowa's Biological Diversity

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People and Biological Diversity

Birds have been very well studied in Iowa.In fact, the Iowa Ornithologists Union (IOU) has been in existence since 1923 and has collected data on birds since then. The IOU website lists 19 different bird watching and bird conservation groups.

There are a number of very good bird photographers in Iowa and even a few that are world-class. At some point I intend to make a list of the various web sites and links that display some of the photography, but for now I would recommend starting with one site--the IOU site. It is at: www.iowabirds.org.

One very clever conservation technique has been initiated in Iowa, and that is the practice of designating certain areas as "Important Bird Areas." The designation of these areas is based on consensus of professional scientists and amateur knowledgeable birders ("citizen scientists"). The designation was done by a formal decision-making process, but not through a bureaucracy or legislative body. This action has the effect of providing a formal recognition of the importance of these areas for bird conservation and bird watching.

Since birds are migratory and some migrate through Iowa without ever breeding, determining how many species are found in Iowa depends upon what "found in Iowa" means. Does it mean stable populations that breed here? Does it include those that normally do not breed here but might by chance? Does it include all birds that have ever been found in Iowa?

Thomas Kent and James Dinsmore give the number of species "accepted as having occurred in Iowa" as of 1995 as 397: Kent, Thomas H. and James J. Dinsmore. 1996. Birds In Iowa Thomson-Shore, Inc, Dexter, Michigan.

The IOU website gives 420 species as of October 6, 2008.

There are a number of good books and field guides of a general nature and/or specific to Iowa that are available. It is beyond the scope of this web site to discuss them here.