Foundational Documents

Midwest Avian Data Center User's Guide (Version 2.0; 2016) (click to download)

In this brief user’s guide, we describe data management and decision support tools offered by MWADC. We also provide an overview of links to outside resources. These tools are designed to manage and analyze bird monitoring data in support of avian conservation and management decisions. There is an emphasis on data management procedures which are typically needed for long-term monitoring programs. In addition to data management, we also review some exciting new decision support tools hosted on the MWADC site.

AKN Point Count and Marshbird User Guidance Manual (2015)

Use the following link to download the training manual, for use with the Biologists and Project Leader applications, specifically for the Marshbird and Landbird Point Count bird monitoring protocols:

Bird Monitoring Program Evaluation Tool (2010)

The Bird Monitoring Evaluation Tool was designed to help evaluate and improve bird monitoring programs based on the principles outlined in the North American Bird Conservation Initiative report, Opportunities for Improving Avian Monitoring.  

Best Practices and Standards for Bird Monitoring Data (2010)

Data management is a process involving a broad range of activities from administrative to technical aspects of handling data. More in-depth information about these practices is provided throughout the rest of this document. Additional biodiversity-related information and resources covering some of the data management activities mentioned in the document are also provided in the appendices.


The Science and Application of Ecological Monitoring (2010)

We provide a broad overview of the underlying philosophy of ecological monitoring. We argue that the major characteristics of effective monitoring programs typically include: (1) Good questions. (2) A conceptual model of an ecosystem or population. (3) Strong partnerships between scientists, policy-makers and managers. (4) Frequent use of data collected.  We classify monitoring programs into three categories – (1) Passive monitoring, which is devoid of specified questions or underlying study design and has limited rationale other than curiosity. (2) Mandated monitoring where environmental data are gathered as a stipulated requirement of government legislation or a political directive. The focus is usually to identify trends. (3) Question-driven monitoring, which is guided by a conceptual model and by a rigorous design that will typically result in a priori predictions that can be tested.  A key remaining challenge is to develop much improved mandated monitoring programs through more widespread adoption of the features of successful question-driven monitoring programs in efforts to enhance biodiversity conservation and environmental management.

The Northeast Bird Monitoring Handbook: Ten steps to successful bird conservation through improved monitoring (2009)

Don't let the title fool you - this handbook provides practical ideas for increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of bird monitoring throughout the U.S.  It takes the recommendations from NABCI's Opportunities for Improving Avian Monitoring (2007) and provides excellent step-by-step guidance for effective bird monitoring partnerships throughout North America.  A must-read for all Midwest Coordinated Bird Monitoring Partnership members!

Monitoring in the context of structured decision making and adaptive management (2008)

In a natural resource management setting, monitoring is a crucial component of an informed process for making decisions, and monitoring design should be driven by the decision context and associated uncertainties. Monitoring itself can play three roles. First, it is important for state-dependent decision-making, as when managers need to know the system state before deciding on the appropriate course of action during the ensuing management cycle. Second, monitoring is critical for evaluating the effectiveness of management actions relative to objectives. Third, in an adaptive management setting, monitoring provides the feedback loop for learning about the system; learning is sought not for its own sake but primarily to better achieve management objectives. In this case, monitoring should be designed to reduce the critical uncertainties in models of the managed system. With limited staff and budgets, management agencies need efficient monitoring programs that are used for decision-making, not comprehensive studies that elucidate all manner of ecological relationships.


Opportunities for Improving Avian Monitoring (2007)

The North American Bird Conservation Initiative's (NABCI) Monitoring Subcommittee challenged the bird conservation community to increase its use of sound bird monitoring programs for informed decision-making with this 2007 publication. This important document serves as the foundation for coordinated bird monitoring partnerships throughout North America and continues to give us a benchmark to strive for as we address bird monitoring and conservation issues throughout the continent.

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