Decision Makers, Funders of Monitoring Programs, and Non-governmental Organizations
The pathway through the web site starting on this page is especially designed for people who would benefit from having an overview of the topics that are covered by this Salmon Monitoring Advisor web site, but who do not necessarily need details. We foresee two groups of such people:
- Those who fund or authorize monitoring programs and also managers/decision makers in organizations such as:
– Fisheries or habitat management agencies,
– Non-governmental salmon conservation organizations (such as State of the Salmon) that are research-oriented or administratively-oriented, and
– The North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission (NPAFC).
For more information about the benefits to you of using this web site, click here.
- People associated with organizing and running local groups such as Watershed Councils, Stream-keepers groups, and other action-oriented non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
For more information about the benefits to you of using this web site, click here.
General overview of the 7-step guide
The following abstracts of the seven steps of monitoring are intended to provide a broad overview of the content of this web site. The purpose of this section is to familiarize you with some of the advantages of having your staff, colleagues, or grantees go through the detailed steps in other sections of the site. This knowledge base is hierarchical — it can be used by anyone at any level of technical detail. As you learn more, you can go into more detailed pages if you wish. However, it is not necessary to get into those details if you are only involved in monitoring through funding such programs or making decisions about actions to take on the basis of their results.
If you already read the paragraph below while reading the “General overview of the 7-step guide”, please skip down to the “Abstracts”.
Throughout this web site, we show the seven steps of monitoring in a wheel (see the figure below). This arrangement of steps emphasizes that they are interconnected and iterative, and that users should work through the steps sequentially. We cannot overemphasize the importance of each step. None of them can be omitted. All of them are linked, and skipping any of them could result in misleading data, inappropriate decisions, or ineffective use of time, money, and effort with no net benefit to salmon populations or people.
The Monitoring Wheel
Abstracts of the seven steps of monitoring
Step 1. Identify goals and objectives of the monitoring program
In this first step of the monitoring wheel you will gather information that will help you clearly identify the goals and objectives of your monitoring program. Goals are generic statements that broadly define what your monitoring project hopes to achieve. Objectives are specific quantitative statements on how the goals will be achieved. This information will also be useful in helping you decide in Step 2 what specific monitoring designs are most appropriate. To assist you in gathering this information, we provide you with a questionnaire that insures that you have considered all the important components that are needed to develop a monitoring program that meets the needs of those who will use the information.
Step 2. Design the monitoring program
Monitoring designs specify where, when, and how you will collect information, and how you will analyze it to achieve your goals and objectives. In this most complicated step of the monitoring wheel, you will be led through a process that will result in the development of a comprehensive design for your monitoring program.
Step 3. Collect data
The third step of our salmon monitoring wheel focuses on data collection approaches and procedures. This field implementation step must be underpinned by clearly articulated goals and objectives and a strong monitoring design as outlined in Steps 1 and 2. Once this foundation is built, it is essential that project staff make every effort to implement the planned design in the field. In contrast to Step 2 (Design), you will not find a process for selecting specific data collection methods. Instead we emphasize the need to use standard protocols and well-designed Quality Assurance and Quality Control (QA/QC) procedures, which ensure that collected data will successfully answer questions defined by the project and support effective decision making. You will find information sources and examples for this data collection step. Monitoring resources are scarce, which heightens the importance of using proven data collection approaches and procedures that are built on a solid design foundation to increase the project’s value and likelihood of funding.
Step 4. Manage the data
This fourth step in our Salmon Monitoring Advisor system emphasizes that the value of monitoring design, data collection, and interpretation of the resulting data can only be fully realized through an effective approach to managing data. Project results can be communicated more effectively when built upon a strong data foundation, which will enhance the ultimate application of results. This section outlines key concepts and elements of an effective data management structure and plan:
- A metadata plan and specification that defines the characteristics of the data that will be collected and managed;
- A data map that outlines the relationships among different data sets, internal to the monitoring project as well as to other regional monitoring data projects;
- Data entry procedures, including key QA/QC procedures, to verify and correct data; and
- Explicit linkages and provisions that directly support data summary, interpretation, reporting and archiving tasks.
Step 5. Interpret the data
This is the step where you will turn data into information. There are two parts to this step:
- The first part is the accounting or assessment, in which you will apply statistical algorithms to basic field measurements and turn these into what we have termed metrics, guided by the study’s response design. Later, these metrics will be combined into the final indicators, guided by the study’s inference design.
- These metrics are often used for active in-season management. In turn, you will convert these metrics into what we have termed indicators guided by the study’s inference design. There are many standard techniques for conducting field research, and many standard statistical techniques for summarizing data associated with field research. However, if you simply produce statistics, tables, and graphs you will have done an incomplete job of interpreting your data.
- The second part, finding meaning and relevance in the data, is both more difficult and more important.
- To be valuable as a scientific contribution, your study must be able to help decision makers and the public understand whether an expensive restoration effort is working as intended, know if a stock is continuing to decline, know if recent adjustments to regulations have resulted in additional escapement, or know the answer to whatever important question launched the study in the first place. In other words, this job of finding scientific meaning in the data is what separates fishery science from accounting or arithmetic.
Step 6. Report the results
Analyses of data that are collected through salmon monitoring programs are often complex and technical. Such results are therefore difficult to communicate clearly to others. Here in Step 6, scientists will find suggestions for communicating their monitoring results more effectively, thereby making them easier to understand by people from a variety of backgrounds. Decision makers and other users of monitoring data will also find useful information here. More appropriate decisions should result from implementing these suggestions.
Specifically, this section provides ideas for scientists to effectively report conclusions from analyses of monitoring data to: (1) management agencies and other groups that fund monitoring programs, (2) salmon-conservation groups, (3) other scientists, and (4) technical staff.
- More information about your audiences
- Managers/policy makers in organizations such as fisheries management agencies, the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission (NPAFC), and research- or administratively-oriented non-governmental salmon conservation organizations (NGOs) like the State of the Salmon program in Portland, Oregon, U.S.A.
- People associated with local groups such as Watershed Councils, Stream-keepers, and other action-oriented salmon-conservation groups that conduct monitoring programs and make decisions about actions to take based on the results of their monitoring
- Scientists who design monitoring programs and analyze the resulting data
- Technical staff who implement monitoring designs in the field.
Scientists must pay careful attention to reporting results in a timely and understandable manner to these groups; if confusion arises when readers interpret the results, evaluations of status and trends of salmon populations may be misinterpreted and inappropriate decisions may result. In addition, decision makers and others who use results of monitoring programs need to recognize that their complexities are not easily conveyed in brief summaries. It is necessary for such people to try to understand those complexities to the extent that they may influence their decisions.
Step 7. Review results and revise the monitoring program as needed
This Step 7 is about evaluating how well the monitoring plan results meet the original monitoring goals and what to do if they do not. Experience has shown that practitioners can expect to iteratively review and improve their monitoring designs. Rarely is a monitoring design successful on the first attempt, and even a successful design can be improved after information is collected over time on sampling variability. Also, monitoring goals may change over time. In step 7, you will find a step-wise process to review and improve your monitoring designs. The benefits of this step are that you can ensure the monitoring program achieves the goals and expectations of decision makers, and that it is cost-effective and efficient.
Your next step
After you read the above concepts about the 7-step approach to designing salmon monitoring programs, as well as the abstracts describing features of each step, we hope that you will be motivated to take an appropriate action. For example, if you fund other people to plan and conduct monitoring programs and analyze the results, you may wish to encourage them to use this Salmon Monitoring Advisor web site to help systematically structure their work and to use the limited time, staff, and funds most effectively.
Similarly, if you are a manager or belong to a decision-making body that uses data analyses arising from salmon monitoring programs, we hope that you will endorse the use of this web site to help ensure that you receive high-quality information. These suggestions apply to a wide range of funders and users, including those in government management agencies and non-governmental organizations, whether international or local in scope. Together, we can increase the chance that well-defended conclusions and actions will result from salmon monitoring programs.
If you wish to learn more details about any of the seven steps in the monitoring process, just click on the relevant “…More information” links above.