Collection ID:
Record Unit 7176
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Physical Description:
17.2 linear meters.
Smithsonian Institution Archives

Descriptive Entry
Descriptive Entry
This collection consists primarily of reports, notebooks, notes, photographs, maps, and related materials documenting field research conducted by staff naturalists of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and its predecessor, the Bureau of Biological Survey. The reports, which primarily concern biological surveys conducted in the United States, are usually submitted to the Chief of the Bureau or to the division or section responsible for field research. Also included are a substantial number of reports concerning field work carried out in Canada and Mexico. A small amount of reports document work in South and Central America, Africa, Europe, Asia, and Antarctica.
Most of the field reports are of a general nature documenting biological surveys of a particular state or geographical region. They fall into three categories: special reports, physiography reports, and plant reports. Notes on birds and mammals are joined to comprise the special reports and concern the observation, identification, distribution, and collecting of specimens. The physiography reports consist of notes and observations on the natural phenomena of the area surveyed, such as climate, topography, bodies of water, etc. Notes on plant life, trees, and vegetation are recorded in the plant reports.
Reports on specific projects or topics are found throughout the collection. Included are reports on predatory animal control; faunal distribution and migratory studies; national parks and wildlife refuges (including reports on proposed parks and refuges); species introduction projects; wildlife management studies; conservation and wildlife problems; environmental impact studies; animal behavior projects; wildlife diseases and epidemics; bird-banding projects; and fur-bearing animal studies.
The collection also includes correspondence from staff naturalists and the general public usually pertaining to birds or mammals observed; newspaper clippings; and publications.

Historical Note
Historical Note
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service has its origin in the work of C. Hart Merriam and the old Bureau of Biological Survey in the United States Department of Agriculture. By 1885, the ornithological work being conducted by the American Ornithologists' Union (AOU) and other private organizations and individuals had grown to the point where private interests were no longer able to finance it sufficiently. Congress was then persuaded to establish a section of ornithology in the Division of Entomology of the Department of Agriculture. The purpose of the section was "the promotion of economic ornithology, or the study of the interrelation of birds and agriculture, an investigation of the food, habits, and migration of birds in relation to both insects and plants, and publishing reports thereon." Through the influence of the AOU and Spencer F. Baird of the Smithsonian Institution, Merriam was appointed Ornithologist. The following year the section attained independent rank as the Division of Ornithology. In 1888 its responsibilities were expanded to include mammals, resulting in a new title - the Division of Economic Ornithology and Mammalogy.
Merriam's concept of life zones which are fitted by nature for the life of certain associations of plants and animals, and his estimation of the value which the delimitation of such areas would have for agriculture, led him to propose the establishment of a Biological Survey into which his own division would be merged. The 1896 name change of the Division to the Division of Biological Survey was the result. In 1905, it became a Bureau within the Department of Agriculture.
The Bureau of Biological Survey remained within the Department of Agriculture until 1939 when it was transferred to the Department of Interior. The following year it was combined with the Bureau of Fisheries, which had been transferred to Interior from the Department of Commerce, to form the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.
From the beginning of the Survey's work, field research was of primary importance in gathering information concerning the interrelation of birds, mammals, and agriculture. Field surveys continued to play an important role as the Bureau's work evolved to include game protection, research on fur-bearing animals, the management of game refuges, predatory animal control, and the protection of migratory birds. Surveys conducted by the Bureau usually entailed sending individual naturalists or groups of workers to collect mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians in a particular state or geographic region. The collections would be augmented by detailed notes, specimens of representative plant life, and photographs of the environment being studied. The compiled materials would serve as the basis for a detailed report on the region. Biological surveys were also conducted at several regional field stations administered by the Bureau.

Personal Papers

Using the Collection
Preferred Citation
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 7176, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Field Reports

Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
United States. Bureau of Biological Survey. Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Botany Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Ecology Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Mammalogy Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Ornithology. Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Records of meetings, organizations, and professional societies Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Smithsonian Institution Archives
Washington, D.C.
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