RE: NANFA-- collection data sheet (was "So what is sampling?")

Denkhaus, Robert (DenkhaR_at_Ci.Fort-Worth.TX.US)
Thu, 30 Aug 2001 11:19:16 -0500

> American Currents published such a form in the Spring 1998
> issue. It's an
> adaptation of the form that Peter Unmack uses. For some
> reason we never
> pushed this form, or put it on he website.

I am all in favor of a uniform collection data sheet and the one presented
is a good start but let's not put the cart before the horse. Data sheets
need to be designed to provide the opportunity to record the information
that we want collected. The information that we want collected is tied to
what we want to learn.

We also have to consider the potential users and what data they will be
willing and able to collect given the differences in equipment availability
(some of us have more toys than others). People are only going to record
the data that they feel comfortable with and so there might be an advantage
to using a tiered system similar to that employed by the North American
Amphibian Monitoring Program where there are different levels of involvement
depending on the individual's wishes.

The variability of individuals must also be considered when defining
descriptive terms. For example, the term "cloudy" to define turbidity will
mean different things to different people especially if they are unfamiliar
with "normal" conditions in an area. The creeks that we looked at in Ohio
seemed awful clear to me but some of the snorkelers thought that they were
cloudy or murky. Each descriptive term needs to be quantified in some way.
Less room for interpretation = more useful data.

In addition, while designing the data sheet we must consider how this
information will be cataloged. The database, if there is to be one, must
dovetail with the data sheet or the project will be nothing but a pain to
work on. And of course the database must be able to provide the type of
information that we are looking for in the first place.

On a side note, anyone desiring to check out the array of habitat variables
that could be included on a "complete" data sheet should check out the
following publication: Hamilton, K & E. P. Bergersen. 1984. Methods to
estimate aquatic habitat variables. Colorado Coop. Fishery Res. Unit. Fort
Collins. This was developed to facilitate measuring aquatic habitat
variables required by Habitat Suitability Indexes.

Rob Denkhaus

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