Monitoring that matters

Edited by: Robert A. GitzenJoshua J. MillspaughAndrew B. Cooper, and Daniel S. Licht



Monitoring is a critically important activity for assessing the status of a system, such as the health of an individual, the balance in one's checking account, profits and losses of a business, the economic activity of a nation, or the size of an animal population. Monitoring is especially vital for evaluating changes in the system associated with specific known impacts occurring to the system. It is also valuable for detecting unanticipated changes in the system and identifying plausible causes of such changes, all in time to take corrective action. Before proceeding, we should define "monitoring." One definition of "monitor" (Microsoft Corporation 2009) is "to check something at regular intervals in order to find out how it is progressing or developing." The key point here is "at regular intervals," suggesting a continuing process. Some definitions do not indicate the repetitive nature of monitoring and are basically synonymous with "observing." Most monitoring, in the strict sense of the word, is intended to persist for long periods of time, perhaps indefinitely or permanently. Similarly, Thompson et al. (1998: 3) referred to the "repeated assessment of status" of something, but noted that the term "monitor" is sometimes used for analogous activities such as collecting baseline information or evaluating projects for either implementation or effectiveness. For their purposes, they restricted the term to involve repeated measurements collected at a specified frequency of time units. Let us adopt that definition, recognizing that repeated measurements imply collecting comparable information on each occasion.

Additional publication details

Publication type Book chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Title Monitoring that matters
DOI 10.1017/CBO9781139022422.006
Year Published 2012
Language English
Publisher Cambridge University Press
Publisher location Cambridge, UK
Contributing office(s) Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Description Chapter 3: 20 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Subtype Other Government Series
Larger Work Title Design and analysis of long-term ecological monitoring studies
First page 54
Last page 73