A road map for designing and implementing a biological monitoring program

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Published Date: June 08, 2016
Source: Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 188 (399), 1-25
Document Type: What We're Reading

Abstract or Description

Designing and implementing natural resource monitoring is a challenging endeavor undertaken by many agencies, NGOs, and citizen groups worldwide. Yet many monitoring programs fail to deliver useful information for a variety of administrative (staffing, documentation, and funding) or technical (sampling design and data analysis) reasons. Programs risk failure if they lack a clear motivating problem or question, explicit objectives linked to this problem or question, and a comprehensive conceptual model of the system under study. Designers must consider what "success" looks like from a resource management perspective, how desired outcomes translate to appropriate attributes to monitor, and how they will be measured. All such efforts should be filtered through the question "Why is this important?" Failing to address these considerations will produce a program that fails to deliver the desired information. We addressed these issues through creation of a "road map" for designing and implementing a monitoring program, synthesizing multiple aspects of a monitoring program into a single, overarching framework. The road map emphasizes linkages among core decisions to ensure alignment of all components, from problem framing through technical details of data collection and analysis, to program administration. Following this framework will help avoid common pitfalls, keep projects on track and budgets realistic, and aid in program evaluations. The road map has proved useful for monitoring by individuals and teams, those planning new monitoring, and those reviewing existing monitoring and for staff with a wide range of technical and scientific skills.

About this Document

J.H. Reynolds, corresponding author, joel_reynolds@fws.gov
Western Alaska Landscape Conservation Cooperative
Anchorage, AK 99503, USA

M. G. Knutson
National Wildlife Refuge System, US Fish and Wildlife Service,
La Crosse, WI 54603, USA

K. B. Newman
Lodi Fish andWildlife Office, US Fish andWildlife Service, Lodi,
CA 95240, USA

E. D. Silverman
Division of Migratory Bird Management, US Fish and Wildlife
Service, Laurel, MD 20708-4002, USA

W. L. Thompson
National Wildlife Refuge System, US Fish and Wildlife Service,
Hadley, MA 01035, USA