Subject: Re: CBC Accuracy (the regional editors view) Date: Dec 08 12:14:16 1998 From: Mike Patterson - mpatters at orednet.org
On CBC accuracy from your friendly regional coordinator
Accuracy and precision are hard things to come by and the more individual data gathers one includes in a project the more both of these things will suffer.
Volunteers can take reliable data. There are even some studies that suggest that volunteers take more consistently reliable data (Maine, 1992) than folks who get paid to do it. But to be reliable, the volunteers must be properly trained and properly monitored. Consistency of training across a continent is probably more than we can reasonably expect, but I think consistency of procedure for any particular count is possible from year to year and this is were the count compiler comes into play.
Some CBC's treat count day as a social event or a fund raising opportunity. Many have developed procedural bad habits over the years. Far too many untrained folks (some of whom bird only one day a year) end up out in the field. None of these things are necessarily bad as long as (and this is statement is going to seem weird) as long as they are consistently adhered to.
Any count that produces data by internally constant procedures will produce reliable trend data for that count. In a perfect world, all CBC's would use exactly the same procedures; have the same numbers of participant, all equally well trained and the data would be absolutely comparable across the continent.
In reality, we should celebrate our capacity to get as many folks into the field over a two week period to get the snap shot that we get.
Some procedural constants would be nice, however...
1. Mixed experience levels in each team. Participants of limited experience need some kind of mentoring.
2. Details should be required for ALL unusual sighting even those made by the elite. Holding participants accountable for their data will tend to ensure accuracy and make the data more long lived and go a long way toward mitigating the single worst bad habit many counts have.
3. Share your expertise. There are many little counts out there struggling to get enough participants. Volunteer to an extra count.
Maine, Neal. 1992. _Volunteers and Natural Resource Monitoring_. An Approach to Improving Decision Making in Wetland Restoration and Creation (EPA/600/R-92/150, A.J.Hairston, ed.) USEPA, Environmental Research Lab, Corvallis OR.
-- Mike Patterson "Change comes one funeral at a time" Astoria, OR Doc Hatfield-in response to the question: Why mpatters at orednet.org don't more cattlemen choose to use a proven method of range management that is more economically AND environmentally sound.