Agencies and scientists coordinate to protect an endemic species of southern California's arid grasslands.

Conservation Biology Institute is working in partnership with Riverside County Habitat Conservation Agency, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance Academy, and others to develop and implement a rangewide conservation plan for the Stephens’ kangaroo rat (Dipodomys stephensi, SKR), a tiny rodent native to Southern California’s shrinking grassland habitats.

The SKR Rangewide Management and Monitoring Plan, developed in collaboration with species managers, researchers, and land owners, complements existing management plans rather than replaces them, recognizing that each location has unique management priorities. Coordinating across local conservation efforts will facilitate collaborative conservation action across the species’ entire range.

The SKR Plan recommends management actions to improve habitat and ameliorate threats from human activities and climate change and provides  a standardized monitoring protocol to track the species’ population status and trends. CBI has developed a customized field data collection application using ArcGIS Field Maps, and our SKR data management team supports the field monitoring effort and ensures long-term integrity of the data in partnership with USFWS’ Ecosphere Program.

This work builds upon a habitat suitability model developed in 2019 by Conservation Biology Institute using Sentinel-2 satellite imagery and being updated in time to support the 2024 monitoring season. These updatable landscape-scale habitat maps are the foundation for statistically-defensible monitoring and play a key role in planning coordinated conservation of the species.

This work is funded by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. For more information about this effort, please contact Wayne Spencer at or Brian Shomo at

Please see the SKR Rangewide Management and Monitoring Website for The SKR Rangewide Management and Monitoring Plan and Protocol, as well as other documents, maps, and data from this project.

Stephens’ kangaroo rat (Dipodomys stephensi, SKR). Photo by Moose Peterson.

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