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ECOL 8750 / WILD 8750: Endangered Species Practicum

This guide is intended to help with finding information and citing for 5-year species reviews

What is Grey Literature?

Grey Literature refers to work not formally published through scholarly or commercial channels such as journal articles or books. It is usually published through government agencies, universities, associations and societies, companies, research associations, and other professional organizations. Some examples grey literature are:

  • conference proceedings 
  • bulletins 
  • technical reports 
  • unpublished reports
  • government documents
  • fact sheets 
  • newsletters
  • data sets 

Related Libguide

Searching for Grey Literature

For species 5-year reviews, you will most likely be drawing on different types of material such as published research, conference proceedings, dissertations, data sets, and published government documents: bulletins, reports, reviews, newsletters. You also might draw on sources from unpublished works such as internal government reports, or even correspondence. The bulk of this type of material falls under Grey Literature.

Due to the very nature of grey literature, it can be one of the most challenging to search and find what you're looking for but it is literally everywhere! Luckily, a large portion of documents by government organizations can be easily found using Google Scholar. You can also take advantage of Google's source search which also works well for finding freely available data sets!

Google Scholar

Google Scholar will bring back scholarly and grey literature in your searches such as government or university technical reports, bulletins, and sometimes newsletters. You can adjust the year of publication to bring forward only those that are current or within the timeframe you wish to explore.

Using to your advantage

Searching basic Google but adding the command site: will allow you to specify the source of your results 

  • site: .gov will pull results from governmental websites,
  • site: .org will pull from organizations*,
  • site: .edu will pull from institutions of education. 

For example, I might want a fact sheet on the endangered leatherback sea turtle in Georgia. I could search in Google "leatherback sea turtle georgia" and expect to find listings from Fish and Wildlife, NOAA or even National Parks System. 

Federal Agencies

These will often have individual state information for the topic you're looking for and usually are searchable within the website itself. Federal Agency Websites that may be helpful for your review writing:

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers :

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services :

U.S. Geological Services : 

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration :

Specific Websites to help with Species Five-Year Reviews:

**U.S. Fish and Wildlife Endangered Species - select state and search for whole listing, or select state and search for specific species. Has a wealth of information related to endangered species and 5-year reviews.

**U.S. Fish and Wildlife ECOS: Environmental Conservation Online System - Good for finding published or white-papers specific to FWS

**U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ServCat: Service Catalog - This contains FWS National Datasets, land status maps, refuge comprehensive conservation plans, geospatial datasets, refuge annual narrative reports, refuge hydrogeomorphis analysis reports, sea-level affecting marshes model reports, management plans, wilderness character monitoring reports and environmental contaminants reports.

USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center Breeding Bird Survey - "This website presents population change information for more than 400 species of North American birds, as estimated from the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Estimates of trend (interval-specific estimates of population change), annual indices of abundance, and maps of abundance and population change for these species are presented for a variety of regions." currently reporting 1966-2017.


Below is a listing of library databases that can be helpful in finding published journal articles, and can also provide access to some grey literature such as conference proceedings, government bulletins, and legal cases. Some are more general in scope while others are more focused by discipline.  

Below is a listing of various freely available databases of information pertaining to various types of organisms. These usually consist of information pertaining to taxa, species descriptions, geographic distribution, and habitats.

  • Integrated Taxonomic Information System - Here you will find authoritative taxonomic information on plants, animals, fungi, and microbes of North America and the world. 
  • Birds of the World - Guide to the birds of North America including descriptions, geographic distribution information, systematic information, habitats, and more, complemented by images, sound files, and video clips. 
  • Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles - Consists of accounts of taxa prepared by specialists, including synonymy, description, diagnosis, phylogenetic relationships, published descriptions, illustrations, distribution map, and comprehensive list of literature for each taxon. Over 900 accounts have been published since the initiation of the series in 1963. 
  • Fishbase - FishBase is a global biodiversity information system on finfishes. Its initial goal to provide key facts on population dynamics for 200 major commercial species has now grown to having a wide range of information on all species currently known in the world: taxonomy, biology, trophic ecology, life history, and uses, as well as historical data reaching back to 250 years.


You might find some of the following journals helpful for finding research studies. These two have a broad scope within Wildlife Management and Ecology: 

  • Journal of Applied Ecology - Journal of Applied Ecology publishes novel, broad-reaching and high-impact papers on the interface between ecological science and the management of biological resources. The journal includes all major themes in applied ecology, such as conservation biology, global change, environmental pollution, wildlife and habitat management, land use and management, aquatic resources, restoration ecology, and the management of pests, weeds and disease.
  • The Journal of Wildlife Management - The Journal of Wildlife Management publishes manuscripts containing information from original research that contributes to basic wildlife science. Suitable topics include investigations into the biology and ecology of wildlife and their habitats that has direct or indirect implications for wildlife management and conservation.