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Current Trends in Plant and Animal Population Monitoring

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Animal and plant population monitoring programs are critical for identifying species at risk, evaluating the effects of management or harvest, and tracking invasive and pest species. Nevertheless, monitoring activities are highly decentralized, which makes it difficult for researchers or conservation planners to get a good general picture of what real-world monitoring programs actually entail. We used a Web-based survey to collect information on population monitoring programs. The survey focused on basic questions about each program, including motivations for monitoring, types of data being collected, spatiotemporal design of the program, and reasons for choosing that design. We received responses from 311 people involved in monitoring of various species and used these responses to summarize ongoing monitoring efforts. We also used responses to determine whether monitoring strategies have changed over time and whether they differed among monitoring agencies. Most commonly, monitoring entailed collection of count data at multiple sites with the primary goal of detecting trends. But we also found that goals and strategies for monitoring appeared to be diversifying, that area-occupied and presence–absence approaches appeared to be gaining in popularity, and that several other promising approaches (monitoring to reduce parameter uncertainty, risk-based monitoring, and directly linking monitoring data to management decisions) have yet to become widely established. We suggest that improved communication between researchers studying monitoring designs and those who are charged with putting these designs into practice could further improve monitoring programs and better match sampling designs to the objectives of monitoring programs.
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Keywords: agencias gubernamentales; biodiversidad; biodiversity; declinación poblacional; diseño de muestreo; government agencies; monitoreo de poblaciones; monitoring programs; nongovernmental organizations; organizaciones no gubernamentales; population decline; population monitoring; programas de monitoreo; sampling designs

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, 735 State Street, Suite 300, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, U.S.A., and Department of Biology, Washington & Lee University, Lexington, VA 24450, U.S.A., Email: [email protected]

Publication date: June 1, 2008

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