|Home > WHY monitor?|
|WHY are you creating a monitoring program?|
|A common error in designing
a monitoring program is failure to state explicit objectives, the ultimate
design of the program follows from a clear objective or set of objectives.
1. Will you use it primarily to detect long-term population change?
By population change we mean changes in the numbers or sometimes the population structure of animals living within a defined area. The primary question addressed is: "What is the rate and direction of population (or age or sex structure) change?" Collection of this type of monitoring data is the first step in effective land management. An understanding of the fluctuations and trajectories of the animal populations under your care establishes the need for management actions and provides the insights necessary for determining what management actions and research on the causes for the observed changes may be warranted.
Be aware that you can tap into information about long-term state or regional trends for some species of birds (and soon for many frogs and toads) via existing programs monitoring programs. Comparisons between regional populations trends (when available) and local trends often provide perspective on factors driving local population trends. Regional impacts such as weather and changes in the landscape can often strongly influence the numbers of animals at a site irrespective of the local conditions particularly when dealing with animals that migrate on and off the property.
Creating a monitoring system yields information about long-term changes in animal populations (10+ years) and provides clues about possible causes, but you should not expect your trend monitoring program to determine why things have changed. A controlled research project or adaptive management project in most cases is needed to establish cause of the changes you observe.
2. Will you use it primarily to guide the ongoing management of populations and habitats (adaptive resource management)?
If your goal is primarily to evaluate, regulate, guide, or investigate the success of your current or planned land or wildlife management actions then you will want to conform the data you collect to both monitor the success of those actions and help you learn how to improve your management over time. However, be aware, that complexity, cost, and sample size requirements for these types of studies often exceed the abilities of individual refuges or parks to accomplish and that coordinating a project across multiple land units is often required.
Next question: WHAT do you want to monitor?
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U.S. Department of the Interior
U.S. Geological Survey
Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
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