Can Anything Significant Come Out of Monitoring?
The Proposed Guidelines for Ecological Risk Assessment (USEPA, 1996) identify five criteria for determining ecological adversity: nature and intensity of effects, temporal and spatial scale, and potential for recovery. Assessing changes in the assessment endpoints and reaching conclusions on ecological adversity or significance is ultimately founded on information obtained through monitoring and measurements on ecological systems. Although some monitoring programs have previously been criticized for lack of scientific rigor, answers to questions related to ecological and societal significance must come from assessments founded on ecological monitoring efforts. Identifying the appropriate questions and assessment endpoints for monitoring are critical steps in the design and implementation of the monitoring program. However, the process must be completed. This monitoring information subsequently must form the foundation for assessments that interpret and present the ecological and societal signficance of observed status and trends in resource condition.