Surveys-and-Monitoring

Group Facilitator: Ross Alford

ASG Secretariat Lead Contact: Ariadne Angulo (aangulo[at]amphibians.org)

Current Priority Actions

The following are immediate priorities identified by the Surveys and Monitoring Working Group. These actions are expected to change as progress is made in addressing the issues.

Major Constraints To Effective ConservationMid-term Priorities (1–5 years)Short-term Targets (6–12 months)
SCIENCE
Limitations of traditional survey and collection approaches to monitor certain threatened, rare and/or cryptic species, possible advantages of more novel monitoring techniques (e.g. environmental DNA, automated recording devices)i. Development of best practice techniques for collection and interpretation of environmental DNA (eDNA) data

ii. Support the development of remote monitoring devices, including call recording and effective automated call identification; support capacity building on remote monitoring device management by local communities that have immediate access to sites of interest
i. Literature survey and consultation with experts on the use of eDNA; working document subject to continual revision

ii. Literature review and survey of individuals working in the field of passive acoustic monitoring (PAM)

iii. Matching of expertise with students or others interested in PAM as part of ASG or academic projects
Survey efforts not standardized, making comparisons and sometimes achievement of goals difficulti. Development of guidelines for optimization of survey effort and techniques to meet particular goals

ii. Development of criteria for choosing types of monitoring techniques and localities for monitoring
Literature surveys and consultation with experts; working document subject to continual revision:

- Develop guidelines for choosing state variables in monitoring programs and surveys (i.e. should we measure species richness, occupancy, abundance, occurrence of reproduction (tadpoles), life history traits, etc.)

- Develop guidelines for ancillary data (predators, competitors, pathogens, environmental features, possible contaminants, etc.) to be collected in surveys
Lost survey opportunities and/or improper collection of scientific specimensi. Harness citizen science and local stakeholder participation by developing guidelines for basic population monitoring techniques that would allow for relatively inexperienced individuals or community groups to conduct regular surveys

ii. Develop guidelines for collection of voucher specimens and genetic samples
i. Following from the above item, develop a simplified protocol for adoption and application by citizen science

ii. Identify and contact citizen science initiatives that would be interested in partnering up for amphibian surveys and monitoring

iii. Survey museums and researchers to determine their field collections guidelines and integrate into best-practice document
Lack of integration between field data and available spatial (GIS) datai. Develop a better understanding of which GIS data are available and relevant for amphibians (depends on spatial scale), inclusive of literature review and experimentation with GIS (more experimental use of GIS, i.e. making and testing predictions, revising when they prove inaccurate, repeat)

ii. Develop guidelines for how to analyze and interpret spatial data collected in surveys. Requires preliminary gap-filling science, though guidelines could be developed and promoted with continual review and revision
i. Recruit volunteers to do a literature and web review for existing GIS resources that can be applied to amphibians

ii. Identify and approach ASA and/or ASG members with GIS expertise who may be willing to do some pilot testing of GIS data against field data
Misidentifications in the field leading to inaccurate conclusionsi. Development of keys or databases for reliable species identification, either using traditional or DNA barcoding techniques (to be carried out by individuals working with regional faunas and/or surveys. Some potential for using Genbank, but much misidentification at present at least for some faunas).

ii. When there is ongoing monitoring with stakeholder participation, develop targeted keys specific to the monitored fauna that are easy to use and reliable for non-experts
Recruit volunteers to collate existing keys by regions; develop lists of keys for taxa/areas to identify existing resources; reach out to taxonomic experts to assess quality and usefulness of keys
Knowledge gaps on the impact and significance of amphibians in community and ecosystem dynamicsLong-term, monitoring and experimental ecology as needed to answer questions arising from literature review(s)Review of relevant literature for amphibians in terrestrial and aquatic systems
Knowledge gaps on how amphibian-specific conservation sites contribute to the delivery of ecosystem goods and servicesMedium-term, planners and ecologists to establish and test hypotheses Recruit volunteers to review existing literature on amphibians and ecosystem services
CONSERVATION
Lack of screening for emerging infectious diseases (EIDs such as Bd/Bs and ranavirus) in biodiversity surveysi. Support the integration of Bd/Bs and ranavirus surveys into all biodiversity survey work. This is an immediate priority in areas such as Madagascar (Bd) and the Americas (Bsal)

ii. Collaborate with disease experts to incorporate disease and pathogen detection into monitoring programs. This is an urgent priority in regions where particular diseases are presently thought to be absent, and should be a high priority in other regions
Disease and monitoring working groups to exchange documents and cross-fertilise membership
Mismatch between modelled species ranges and ranges on the groundDevelop resources (funds, citizen science initiatives) that would allow for ground truthing and border expansion of presently understood species ranges. This can be prioritized by the conservation status of species, e.g., Least Concern species are low priority unless they are disease carriersi. Evaluate and select some potential case studies that could be tested in areas where there are already ongoing survey and monitoring efforts

ii. Identify and contact potential donors
Lack of collaboration and coordination in survey and monitoring effortsi. Better coordination among basic biodiversity surveys, to ensure that geographic or taxonomic gaps are filled—web site/database with at least names, contacts, regions working

ii. Provide resources for and promote collaboration between those working on biodiversity identification, pathogen and parasite ecology, skin microbiota, the effects of environmental contaminants, and habitat alteration and climate change
i. Recruit volunteers to develop tailor-made questionnaire for ASG members to complete; develop a database/online resource with this information and make it available to all ASG members

ii. Use ASA as a clearinghouse where students looking for graduate projects at universities are matched to ASG priorities

iii. ASA and ASG can help with integration/collaboration via cross-fertilization of working groups and compilation of needs
POLICY
Governmental agencies sometimes requiring lengthy and involved application processes to conduct surveysWhere possible, work with receptive authorities to simplify application processesi. Develop clear documentation to help explain the need for surveys and monitoring

ii. Recruit good communicators in the amphibian community to act as mediators with authorities
SITE LEVEL STAKEHOLDERS
Lack of information and buy-in on survey and monitoring initiatives (and thus on amphibian and habitat conservation)Promote community and authority engagement by developing outreach materialsRecruit amphibian educators and communicators to develop outreach materials in several languages (perhaps the three official IUCN languages to begin with) and make them available to all ASG members that go to the field