Date: Fri, 23 Feb 1996 10:03:36 -0600 (CST)

From: "christine bishop" <>

Subject: Re: NAAMP III On-Line

Hello to Bob Ling and Jim Harding and their discussion on choosing routes for amphibian monitoring. In Ontario, we have three similar but slightly different approaches to monitoring that I think have value for monitoring amphibians because the methods attract different types of people but provide comparative data. The methods all involve listening at a point for 3 minutes per night. Our validation of the 3 minute point count in 1995 indicates that 90% of the species that will call that night and occur at that point will be heard in the first 2 minutes of listening if the weather [warm, humid, and still] conditions are right, at least for 12 species of 14 tested in Ontario. The methods diverge like this:

"Ontario Marsh Monitoring Program": volunteers are assigned a general location for routes in specific shoreline wetlands in the Great Lakes. That is, there are specific wetlands we know we want to have volunteers survey especially those in Great Lakes 'areas of concern' and wetlands of 'quality' on Great Lakes shorelines. It has been a priority for this program to get volunteers to do the shoreline wetlands however volunteers may also simply choose a wetland they live close to or like etc. in Ontario and do that wetland. Visits are made only 3 times per season on appropriate dates and weather conditions [this applies to method #2 as well].

Road Call Counts: volunteers choose their own routes although in the first few years we had routes established by student employees and then got volunteers to take them over. The choice of location of route was not randomly stratified.

Backyard Surveys: People who can hear anurans calling from their 'backporch' listen every night, or as many nights as they can through 1 April -July. They listen for 3 minutes. These sites are obviously chosen by the volunteer.

We chose these approaches because they can appeal to many different people with different lifestyles and collect data that is comparable on some level. The backyard data tells us the peak calling period and early and late dates of calling so we can verify that the surveys done only 3x per year were done at peak periods.

So our methods are not as rigorous statistically in terms of choosing the locations of the survey routes as has been suggested is necessary. But I think they are providing very useful information which is standardized over time, alot better than anything in the past. The value of the information might be even better if the routes were more random and more stratified. On the other hand, I have discussed this with several statisticians and all but one says that our approach is statistically valid and does not need to change. At present we have a decent coverage of southern Ontario but only 5 or so people in northern Ontario. We want more volunteers in central and northern Ontario and we are not going to discourage volunteers if they can't do a survey route we assign to them but can do something closer to home. Assigned routes are ultimately a nice goal but data collected other wise, I believe, has value.