Minnesota Biological Survey

Performance Area: Natural Lands

Number of counties completed by the Minnesota Biological Survey


Why Is This Important?

The need to protect and manage functional ecological systems, including ecological processes and component organisms, is accelerating with increased demands for clean water, energy, and crop land. Habitat fragmentation, loss of plant and animal species and genetic diversity, changing landscape patterns, contamination of water resources, and invasive species expansion require information to optimize conservation of the most functional systems and provide effective guidance and monitoring to maintain or restore declining systems.

An important goal for the DNR is to ensure that Minnesotans have the information required to address these needs. The Minnesota Biological Survey (MBS) systematically collects, interprets and delivers baseline data on the distribution and ecology of native plants, animals, plant communities and functional landscapes needed to guide decision making.


What Is DNR Doing?

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We have completed biological surveys in 84 of Minnesota’s 87 counties and have surveys underway in the last 3 counties that are due for completion by 2022. Survey information is available in various formats, including GIS files of sites of biodiversity significance in 77 counties and over 90,000 native plant community locations on the Minnesota Geospatial Commons.

Examples of how this information is used in decision-making:

• The  MBS compiled a map of the statewide status of native prairie that has been widely referenced in planning for prairie protection and monitoring.

• The  MBS published field guides on Minnesota’s native plant communities that are used in land management, plant community restoration and conservation planning.

• The  MBS data are being used as part of the DNR’s forest certification process and for DNR state forest plans.

• The MBS rare species data, native plant communities, sites of biodiversity significance and ecological evaluations are used to identify and prioritize lands for scientific and natural area and state park additions.


Target: Complete a total of 84 counties by the end of 2019 and all counties by 2022.

The Minnesota Biological Survey (MBS) began in 1987 as a systematic, county-by-county survey of native species, plant communities and landscapes. As of 2019, MBS has completed 84 counties and estimates statewide completion of the remaining counties by 2022.