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Career Information

Continuing Education for Natural Resource Professionals

Asking & Answering the Right Monitoring Questions (AARMQ)

close up lookObjective:

  • design and implement a monitoring program assessing ecological systems relative to management actions.

Topics include:

  • vegetation, plant populations and plant communities, although applications to habitat monitoring and animal populations are also discussed.

Any organization conducting biological monitoring in a land management context has implied, or explicit, management goals. These goals articulate what the organization wants the land to look like (with respect to specific attributes), or not look like. The purpose of biological monitoring and assessment is the measurement of the land’s condition relative to these goals. The objective of this course is to discuss foundational tools for the design of monitoring programs that assess populations, communities, and ecological systems relative to management actions. The emphasis is on matching management goals to clear management and monitoring objectives; that is, crafting the right monitoring questions for the management context. Specific topics include vegetation, plant populations, communities, habitat monitoring, wildlife populations, and landscapes.

Day 1 of the workshop demonstrates how conceptual modeling can help craft effective monitoring questions from management goals and ecological context.

Days 2 and 3 focus on seven effective design and analysis tools for implementation of sampling designs and analyses of these data. This workshop is meant to help craft effective monitoring programs and is not a workshop in field techniques.

Depart in the mid-afternoon of Day 3.

This course is about concepts in monitoring, not specific techniques. In this sense, the course is relevant to anyone interested in designing monitoring projects. It is about goal setting, crafting management and monitoring objectives, and setting appropriate levels of precision. Applicable to aquatic and terrestrial natural resource profesionals.

Know Before Attending:
It is a good idea to be familiar with statistics BEFORE you arrive at the workshop. Its not mandatory. The cadre will help you with statistics, but, obviously, it will slow down learning the concepts of monitoring. Options for brushing up on your statistics knowledge:

  • Review our statistics page
  • Or check out statistics courses on For example, Khan Academy
  • Contact Shelly Witt to borrow a copy of the book "The Cartoon Guide to Statistics" by Larry Gonick.
    • All registered participants will be loaned the book at least 4 months prior to the workshop.
  • Pull out your old college statistics book - engage in some self tutoring

Knowing statistics before attending is highly recommended, because, after all, you want to get the most out of your time and money, right?!

Dates: No longer offered

Location: If interested in hosting at your home unit, contact Sound Science.

AgLearn Keywords: Use one or two of the following key words in AgLearn. We recommend using the Advanced Search option.
2600 monitoring vegetation
Registering in AgLearn

Flyer 2009

Registration Status: Request in AgLearn or contact Sound Science.

Tuition: TBD - Lodging and Meals are NOT included.

Agenda & Workshop Info

Reading: Evaluating Management Success: Using Ecological Models to Ask the Right Monitoring Questions 5.61 MB

Alternative downloading option for the reading assignment:

If you are a slow connection, there are two options to ensure you download the entire file.
1. YouSendIt has a small download manager applet you can install. If your connection is broken during downloading, it will pick up where it left off rather than starting over again.
2. Mozilla Firefox has the same capacity, and works flawlessly.


Sound Science LLC

Disclaimers | Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) | Privacy Notice

Forest Service Continuing Education for Natural Resource Professionals
Author: Shelly Witt, National Continuing Education Coordinator,
WFW staff
Phone: 435-881-4203
Expires: none

Photo Credits

USDA Forest Service
1400 Independence Ave., SW
Washington, D.C. 20250-0003
(202) 205-8333

 Last Modified: June 2013