Recommended features of protocols for long-term ecological monitoring

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Abstract

In 1991, the National Park Service (NPS) selected seven parks to serve as prototypes for development of a long-term ecological monitoring program. Denali National Park and Preserve was one of the prototype parks selected. The principal focus of this national program was to detect and document resource changes and to understand the forces driving those changes. One of the major tasks of each prototype park was to develop monitoring protocols. In this paper, we discuss some lessons learned and what we believe to be the most important features of protocols.

One of the many lessons we have learned is that monitoring protocols vary greatly in content and format. This variation leads to confusion about what information protocols should contain and how they should be formatted. Problems we have observed in existing protocols include (1) not providing enough detail, (2) omitting critical topics (such as data management), and (3) mixing explanation with instructions. Once written, protocols often sit on the shelf to collect dust, allowing methods changes to occur without being adequately considered, tested, or documented. Because a lengthy and costly research effort is often needed to develop protocols, a vision of what the final product should look like is helpful. Based on our involvement with the prototype monitoring program for Denali (Oakley and Boudreau 2000), we recommend key features of protocols, including a scheme for linking protocols to data in the data management system and for tracking protocol revisions. A protocol system is crucial for producing long-term data sets of known quality that meet program objectives.

Additional publication details

Publication type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Title Recommended features of protocols for long-term ecological monitoring
Year Published 2001
Language English
Publisher George Wright Society
Publisher location Hancock, MI
Contributing office(s) Alaska Science Center
Description 5 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Subtype Conference publication
Larger Work Title Crossing boundaries in park management: Proceedings of the 11th conference on research and resource management in parks and on public lands
First page 415
Last page 419
Conference Title Crossing Boundaries in Park Management: On the Ground, In the Mind, Among Discipline (2001 George Wright Society Conference)
Conference Location Denver, CO
Conference Date April 16-20, 2001