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Table of Contents
Populations Module

7.1. General Rules

7.1.1. What is the purpose of the Populations Module?

The Populations Module (POPS) in FIS was created to track the status and trends of native fish populations in the United States. The POPS Module is not intended to capture Fisheries Program activities, rather the intermediate and end outcomes that result from our activities (in the context of natural and anthropogenic factors). The POPS Module informs a number of Fisheries Program population-based performance measures (e.g., % self-sustaining fish populations) under the Fisheries Strategic Plan and the FWS Operational Plan.  These measures also support goals and objective of the DOI strategic plan.  Understanding which populations are in jeopardy assists in strategic planning and associated budget development.


NOTE: Non-native species/populations (species existing outside their native range) are typically managed by the Fisheries Program as either a recreational or an aquatic invasive species (AIS). Although the Fisheries Program conducts activities with  these species, they are not tracked in the Populations Module (which tracks status and trends of wild of native populations).

7.1.3. What constitutes a population?

In general, populations should be described at the same scale that assessments and management are conducted. For example, in some cases a population will be reproductively distinct and/or geographically isolated, and in other cases the population may be  based on units otherwise defined in a recovery or management plan. The population may represent a variety of taxon (i.e., fish, birds, mollusks, arthropods, etc.) for which the Fisheries Program conducts management activities or should be conducting management activities.


  • · The population must be native and must exist, or have existed, in the wild. (Note: If the last remnant wild remnant native population exists only in captivity, describe the wild population that the captive population represents).
  • · Populations or management units (such as hatchery strains) of non-native species managed for recreation/mitigation should not be entered into the POPS Module (purpose of the POPS Module is to tract track status and abundance of native native    populations).

7.1.4. Who enters new populations into POPS Module?


When naming a new population that isn’t referenced in an existing plan, use the water body (i.e., creek, stream, river, lake, etc.) and the species’ common name. Here are some examples:


The population description should consist of the geographic range of the population and other relevant information associated with the population (i.e., state, water bodies, genetics, land management agency, etc).  You are encouraged to include links to scientifically credible information describing the population (e.g., natural heritage data for individual States found at


TESS (Threatened and Endangered Species System) is the Service’s Endangered Species Program’s database of federally listed species, including DPSs and ESUsDistinct Population Segments (DPS) and Ecologically Significant Units (ESU). The TESS database ( is managed within the ECOS portal. The TESS database contains the Service’s official, legal Endangered Species ACT (ESA) designations (i.e., ‘threatened,’ ‘endangered,’ and ‘candidate”) for listed species. ESUs and DPSs are considered “species” by the ESA.


When entering the location of a population, it is preferred to designate the lowest HUC resolution HUC scale (the 8-digit watershed unit). If a higher resolution is a larger scale is designated, it will be assumed that the population is found in all units below (i.e., Accounting Unit Code, Sub-region, and Region). If you don’t know the numerical HUC designation for your population, please refer to the "Watershed Locater Tools", located in the Location – Hydrologic Unit Code channel of the POPS Module, to help you with identification.


NOTE:  If the population is not on your list, conduct a search for the population in the FIS Reports Module to determine if the population is already in FIS, but is “owned” by another field office.  If another field office “owns” this population (i.e., acts as the population expert), contact that person with any requests to change / update population information.   If the population is not in FIS, contact your RO FIS Coordinator to add.