Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
“Talkin' Shop” with USGS
Midwest Region, January 1, 2008
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Biological monitoring on the Missouri River is a data and number rich proposition. 

GPS way points, water depth, fish species, length and weight are just a small example of the data that is collected by multiple agencies, projects and crews.   Numbers themselves cannot stand alone, but when combined provide true power for analysis.  Data must be compiled in a standardized format to extract their true meanings using statistical analysis.  

In an effort to retrieve the most information, Army Corps funded projects have standardized protocols and field data collection sheets in an effort to create a single data base that spans multiple projects.  One benefit to this central database is that it will allow management strategies for pallid sturgeon to be implemented faster.  This concept has been expanded beyond the monitoring projects and is being embraced by others in the research community as well.

Staff at US Geological Survey - Columbia Environmental Research Center (CERC) are interested in incorporating data collected from the Pallid Sturgeon Ecology and Behavior Research (telemetry) program into the Pallid Sturgeon Recovery Program database.  Because datasheets for the recovery program are rather intimidating at first glance, staff at the CERC office requested an opportunity to discuss the protocol. 

Patty Herman of the Pallid Sturgeon Population Assessment team at Columbia NFWCO met with field researchers on the USGS campus.  A lively question and answer session ensued resulting in many pertinent questions being asked about datasheet format and data recording. 

The group practiced data recording exercises using mock data recorded on Missouri River datasheets. Since the Missouri River Standard Operating Procedures manual is also a complicated labyrinth of information, time was also spent reviewing the critical sections of the document.  CERC staff received current editions of protocols and datasheets and updates on projected alterations to these protocols.  Patty and CERC crews anticipate a "field training" day as a refresher and to practice recording data on the river. 

This was a great opportunity to build inter-agency relations and network with experienced and knowledgeable researchers.  By compiling all pallid sturgeon recovery efforts in a central database, well-informed management decisions can be made and implemented faster.  This is an important feature when addressing the recovery of an endangered species and the supporting ecosystem. 

Cooperative participation of staff between projects and among agencies supports the "Partnership Goal" and the "Workforce Management Goal" of the Fisheries Program Vision for the Future.

Contact Info: Patricia Herman, 573-234-2132 x170, Patricia_Herman@fws.gov
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