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User Guide for Candidate Information and Assessment Module

This guide is for Service staff that use the ECOS Candidate module to update species assessments for candidate species. The guide explains (1) the basic functions of the module, (2) how to enter data for a new candidate species, and (3) how to update information for an existing candidate species.

User Access

Existing Users

Log into ECOS at using your Active Directory email and password. On the ECOS home page, click Candidate.

New Users

Log into ECOS at and click on the Request Access link on the ECOS home page (Figure 1). 

Figure 1

On the Request Access page (Figure 2), scroll to the Candidate application and on the dropdown menu, select the appropriate access level. (If you are in a Field Office, select “Field User” and if you are in a Regional Office, select “Regional User.")  Then click on the Submit button at the bottom of the page (not shown). Your request will be forwarded and approved as soon as possible. You will receive an email notifying you that your request has been approved. The next time you log into ECOS, the Candidate module will show up in the list of secure applications on your ECOS home page (shown in Figure 1).

Figure 2

Overview of Module Functions

Clicking Candidate on the ECOS home page opens the Candidate module home page (Figure 3).

Figure 3

The Candidate program is set up to walk you through entering data in the same order as the species assessment that previously was in Word format.

At the end of the CNOR process, each species assessment is “published” as a PDF document and uploaded to the Species Profile page, where it is available to the public for viewing.

Note: At any time during your data entry, in the context of a particular species, you can click on the PDF Form Summary link (on the left navigation menu of the Candidate data-entry pages) to view the assessment in PDF format.  (This link is not available from the Candidate home page or the “Add a New Candidate” page.)

Field Office User Functions 

From the Candidate home page for Field Office users, shown in Figure 3 above, you can:

  • Add a new candidate species for your Field Office or edit information for existing candidate species for which your Field Office has the lead.
  • Remove a species from your candidate list if you added one by mistake, or if you and your field office supervisor have decided not to submit a species as a candidate that you had already added into this module.
    Note: The “Remove New Candidate” function is not to be used to remove from the candidate list an already approved candidate species (i.e., a species that was added to the candidate list in previous years and approved by the FWS Director). 
  • View information on candidate species via the various reports that are available.

Regional Office User Functions

In addition to the functions available to a Field Office user, you can also

  • Manage and insert signatures of your Region’s approving official.

Headquarters User Functions

Headquarters users (only) can

  • Publish assessments

The public assessments function creates a PDF document of all the approved assessments at the end of the annual CNOR process and adds them to the species profiles, which are then available to the public.

Adding a New Species to the Candidate Module

Locate and Add the Species to the Candidate List

To add a new species to your candidate list and get it reviewed and approved through the annual CNOR process, follow these steps:

  1. Click on the Add New Candidate link on the left navigation menu (Figure 4).

    Figure 4

  2. In the Species Name box, start typing the name of the species you want to add. You can use either the common name or the scientific name.  If the species is already in the database, it will appear in a box below the search fields (Figure 5). 

    Figure 5

  3. To add the species, click on the name. You will get a “success” message in a green box at the top of the screen (Figure 6). 

    Figure 6

  4. If the species is not in the database, no name will show up in the box and you will see a message that states, “No Results Found...Click here to add it.” (Figure 7). By clicking the link, a separate window will open to the Species module where you will need to add the following information: Group, Family, Genus, species, and subspecies or variety (as applicable).  After entering this information, click on “Add Species.” You will be asked to confirm the entries you made. Once you confirm the data, you will need to search for your species (use Search Species link at top of left navigation menu). Once the species shows up in the list, click on “edit” to add the historical and current range information (click on the links to the left to do this).

    Figure 7

Add Candidate Information

Once the species has been added, a summary page for this species is created in the Candidate module. To access the Candidate Summary page, click Search For a Candidate on the left navigation menu, type in the species name, and click on the species name (link) in the results. This opens its Candidate Summary page.

Since this is a new species, most of the sections will not have any information. You will need to add information into all the appropriate data fields. The top of the screen will show you where you are in the module and which species you are working on (Figure 8). 

Figure 8

To add information to the assessment, you will use the forms linked under Edit Candidate Information on the left navigation menu of the Candidate Summary page for the subject species. Forms (sections of the summary) to complete include Contact, Status/Action, and Land Ownership; Biological Information; Conservation Measures; Listing Priority and Emergency Listing Review; Monitoring and State Coordination; and Literature Cited, and each Field Office user must also complete the Field Office Review section. (The latter section just requires you to indicate that the candidate review is complete by entering the Date of Review; the Reviewer field automatically displays your name and phone number.)

You can navigate to any section in any order by using the left-menu links. Alternatively, each section of the assessment can be completed in order by clicking the Save and Proceed to... link for the subsequent section on the bottom of each form.  

Select forms are described below.

Contact, Status/Action, and Land Ownership

To begin, click on the Contact, Status/Action, and Land Ownership link. This opens the associated form (Figure 9).

  1. If you know the Lead Region Contact information, add that by clicking on the arrow.  Select your Lead Field Office and Lead Field Office User by clicking on the arrows on the respective boxes (the list of field office users are the staff that have access to the candidate module).  The Information Current as of date will default to today’s date (for a continuing candidate, the date from the previous CNOR review will show). If needed, you can edit this, but this date indicates when you are creating and compiling the information in the species assessment.

  2. The Historical and Current range information will already be included. 
    1. If this information is incorrect or incomplete (e.g., missing county information), click on the link How do I edit this range data? for instructions. (You will need to navigate back to the ECOS home page (use the ECOS Home link at the bottom of the page) and go into the Species module to edit the historical or current range data for a species.)

  3. Under Status/Action, "New Candidate (NC)" will already be selected.

    Figure 9. Contact, Status/Action, and Land Ownership page (top portion).

  4. Under the Petition Information section on the lower portion of this page (Figure 10), indicate whether this species is included in an active petition to list it:
    1. If there is an active petition, the petition information should automatically be pulled from the ECOS petition module and be filled in.
      1. In this case, you will need to indicate that the listing is warranted (question a) and that publication of a proposed rule is precluded (question b). The answer to question c is prepopulated.

    2. If the petition information is missing, contact the Headquarters petition coordinator. 
  5. In the Land Ownership section, click on Edit  to add information on land ownership. A separate text box will open into which you can type the information. Alternatively, you can copy text from a Word document and paste it into this box. However, text attributes such as italics, bold, and underline do not copy to the program. You will need to use the editing features to add these attributes. When you are done, click Save Changes.

  6. When you are done adding the information on this page, at the bottom of the form click on Save and Proceed to Biological Information >> (Figure 10) to save the data and proceed to the next screen.

    Figure 10. Contact, Status/Action, and Land Ownership page (bottom portion).

Biological Information

The Biological Information screen is a series of text boxes into which you enter your information (Figure 11). 

  1. Click on the Edit button on the right side of the text boxes. A separate text box will open in which you can enter information. 
    1. Text can be copied from another program (such as Word) and pasted into the text boxes. However, text attributes such as italics, bold, and underline do not copy to the program. You will need to use the editing features to add these attributes.
    2. In the text boxes, you can insert photos, tables, and bold, underline, or italicize your text as needed (see below, Adding Photos, Maps, or Other Graphics into the Assessment). After you have completed the text fields on this page, proceed to the next section – Threats – by clicking on the link at the bottom of the page, or by clicking on the link on the left navigation menu.

  2. When done, click on the Save Changes button. 

    Figure 11

Listing Priority and Emergency Listing Review

On the Listing Priority and Emergency Listing Review page (Figure 12), to set the Listing Priority Number (LPN), first select the Threat Magnitude by clicking on the dropdown arrow. Then select the level of Immediacy of the threat, and finally the Taxonomy. The LPN will automatically be highlighted in the table on the right according to your selections. For continuing Candidate species, the most recent previous LPN will display next to “Previous Priority Number(s).”  You will need to type in your rationale for selecting the level of magnitude and imminence in the appropriate text boxes (click on the Edit button).

Figure 12

Monitoring and State Coordination

On the Monitoring and State Coordination page (Figure 13), the State coordination boxes are prepopulated in with the names of the States based on the current range information.

  • To indicate if a State provided comments, click on the name of the State in the box next to State Providing Information. This action saves that State's name as having provided information; and in the box next to State Not Providing Information, the name of that State will be grayed out. 
  • If there are multiple States that provided information, while holding the <CTRL> key, select each appropriate State. 
  • To indicate the States that did not provide information, select the appropriate States in the box “State Not Providing Information.” Again, if you need to select more than one State, hold down the Ctrl key and click on each State. 

  • If you mistakenly select a State (in either box), hold down the <CTRL> key while clicking on the State name and this will deselect that State. Then you need to click on the name of the State in the correct box (without using the <CTRL> key). 

Figure 13

Editing Information for an Existing Candidate Species

Editing the summary information includes, in addition to other data updates, changing the LPN or removing it through the annual CNOR process. To edit a Candidtae Species' information:

  1. Locate the species of interest either by conducting a search (click Search For a Candidate) or by browsing a list for your office or region (click on Show Candidate List) using the links on the left navigation menu.  A list of the candidate species for your Field Office (or Region if you are a Regional Office user) will appear. 
  2. Click on the target species' name.
  3. On the summary page that displays for that species, use the links on the left navigation menu to edit specific information (refer to the Add Candidate Information section, above, for details). You do not have to edit these sections in any particular order, but be sure to complete all the appropriate sections.

Figure 14 shows the list of candidate species for a southwestern Field Office. (A Regional user would see a list of candidate species for the entire Region). The list can be sorted by Group, Species Name, Listing Status, Listing Priority, Current Status/Action, whether the species was Petitioned, or when the record was Last Updated. For example, if you want to sort the list by species name, click on the title of that column (Species name) and the list will be sorted alphabetically by common name (the root).

Figure 14. Example Candidate List for a Field Office.

Exporting Assessment Summaries

PDF Form Summary

After you select a species, and anytime during the editing process, by clicking on the PDF Form Summary link on the left navigation menu under Candidate Information (red arrow in Figure 15), you can preview a PDF of the species assessment form. It may be easier to review the information you have inserted into the various data fields of the module by viewing the assessment in this format.  Necessary corrections, reformatting, or areas missing information can be easier to spot. Click here to see an Example PDF Form Summary.

After the assessment is reviewed, finalized, and the appropriate approvals are obtained, this PDF of the assessment will be linked to the Species Profile on the Endangered Species website and will be available to the public.

RTF Form Summary

In addition to being able to produce a PDF of the assessment, you can also export the assessment to Word through the RTF (Word) Form Summary (green arrow in Figure 15). This enables you to share the document with other reviewers (for example, state wildlife agency staff) and keep track of changes made by those reviewers. (You will still have to transfer any new or changed text into the appropriate text boxes in the Candidate module.) Click here to see an Example RTF (Word) Form Summary.

Figure 15. To preview the PDF of the species assessment report, click on the PDF Form Summary link (red arrow). To save the assessment as a Word document file, click on the RTF (Word) Form Summary (green arrow).

Obtaining Approvals

Managing Regional Office Signatures

Staff in the Regional Office that are responsible for overseeing the annual CNOR process for their regions will need to manage the signature of the person who will be approving the assessments. Follow these steps to add, edit, or delete a signature:

  1. In the Candidate module, click on the Manage Signatures link under Operations on the left navigation menu. 
  2. If a signature is already uploaded into the module, it will appear in a list on the screen. You can view, edit, or delete existing signatures by selecting the name from the list and then clicking on the appropriate link above the list. 

  3. If a signature has not been uploaded, the screen will display “No items found.”  To upload a new signature, click on the link on the upper right portion of the screen (Figure 16), and the Add Signature screen will open (Figure 17).

  4. To upload a new signature, you must already have the signature saved on your computer as a gif, png, or pdf-type file. 
    1. Select the title of the signer (Regional Director) and type in the name of the person who has signed the assessments for your Region for the year. 
    2. Click Browse to navigate to the file on your computer that contains the signature you want to upload.  
    3. Select the file and click Save at the bottom right portion of the screen to complete the process. 

    4. The signature can now be selected from the list.

Figure 16. The Manage Signatures page for a Region, showing the Add New Signature link.

Figure 17. Add Signature form for uploading a new signature to use in the approval process.

Show Director Review and Publish Assessments (Headquarters Users Only)

These two functions are accessible only by Headquarters users, and therefore the links to the associated forms appear on the left navigation menu only to HQ users. They are worth mentioning because these actions complete the assessment approval process:

  • The Show Director Review link is used to insert the Director’s approval of the assessments during the annual CNOR process.

  • The Publish Assessments function “publishes” the assessments of the candidate species involved in that year’s CNOR to the Species Profiles pages on the Endangered Species site. The assessments then become available to the public for viewing or downloading (as a PDF).

Adding Photos, Maps, or Other Graphics into the Assessment

You can add photos, maps, or other graphics into most of the sections within the assessment (anywhere there is a text box).



  1. Place your cursor at the place in the text where you want to insert the photo or other image.

  2. Click on the Edit button (upper right in text box). The Edit Content box will display with various editing tools across the top (Figure 18). 

    Figure 18

  3. Select the Insert/Edit Image icon (Figure 18, 2nd from right). The Insert/Edit Image dialog box will open (Figure 19). 

    Figure 19
  4. Browse (on your computer or shared drive) for the photo or other image you want to upload, and then click on Upload Image To Server (Figure 20).

    Figure 20
  5. Next, browse to find the image on the server and click on the filename. The photo should appear in the preview box (Figure 21). Here you can adjust the size and alignment of the image using the fields to the left of the Preview. When finished, click OK.

    Figure 21

  6.  In the Edit Content box, click Save Changes.

    Figure 22

  7.  Your image will display on the form in which the text box field is located (Biological Information > Species Description in this example), with the green (tick) Saved confirmation of the change (Figure 22). 

    Figure 23

  8. You can check to see how the photo/image appears in the assessment by clicking on the PDF Form Summary.


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