NCEAS Project 11081

Optimal design of population monitoring programs

  • David M. Marsh

ActivityDatesFurther Information
Sabbatical Fellow10th November 2006—9th August 2007Participant List  

Population monitoring data are critical for identifying threatened, recovering, or invasive species and for modeling population dynamics. The ultimate value of monitoring data, however, is highly dependent on the quality of the monitoring program. While numerous studies have evaluated the power of monitoring programs for specific populations, few general rules exist for how to optimally allocate monitoring effort. The optimal allocation of monitoring effort should depend on general characteristics of a species┬┐┬┐┬┐ life-history (e.g. fecundity and longevity) and on statistical aspects of population dynamics (e.g. spatial and temporal variation and autocorrelation). Therefore, it should be possible to develop general guidelines for the optimal design of monitoring programs based on measurable population parameters. I propose to use simulation models to derive general, quantitative guidelines for the design of population monitoring programs. Specifically, my research will address the following questions: 1) What aspects of life-history or population dynamics determine the optimal monitoring strategy for a given population? 2) What amount of baseline data is necessary to choose an appropriate population monitoring strategy? 3) If an existing monitoring program is poorly designed, when is it optimal to start over with a better program? The answers to these questions will provide rigorous and practical guidelines for the design of monitoring strategies and should lead to improved assessments of population trends and processes.

TypeProduct of NCEAS Research
Journal Article Marsh, David M.; Trenham, Peter C. 2008. Current trends in plant and animal population monitoring. Conservation Biology. Vol: 22. Pages 647-655.