USDA Forest Service

Pacific Southwest Research Station
Pacific Southwest
Research Station

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Sierra Nevada Research Center

Multiple Species Inventory and Monitoring Protocol:
A Technical Guide for Monitoring Plants and Animals On National Forest System Lands

Need for Monitoring Guidance

Red-Breasted SapsuckerMonitoring is required of land management to assess the success of management activities in meeting legal, regulatory, and policy objectives, including sustaining species and ecosystem diversity by sustaining populations of native species and associated habitats. Information on the condition of populations and habitats of plants and animals is a primary tool for determining the status of progress toward maintaining or achieving desired conditions.

The development and implementation of Forest-scale monitoring as part of Land and Resource Management Plans has been challenging and progress has been slow. Two barriers appear consistent: 1) lack of clear monitoring objectives in terms that can be readily translated into sampling design specifications; and 2) lack of capacity or commitment to fund data collection, management. A consistent, nationally standardized monitoring program to obtain status and change data on species of concern and interest or biological diversity on National Forest System (NFS) lands would greatly assist Regions and Forests in achieving monitoring objectives.



Development of MSIM

Pallid BatOver the past five years, Forest Service research and management have collaborated to develop a nationally standardized protocol, the Multiple Species Inventory and Monitoring (MSIM) protocol (see The Multiple Species Inventory and Monitoring Protocol - Manley and Van Horne 2005). Early development and testing occurred primarily in the Sierra Nevada in collaboration with the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit (see MSIM Evaluation- Manley et al 2004 ; Pilot Field Test - Manley et al. 2002, and Year 1 Implementation - Roth et al. 2004), and investigations into the application of portions of the protocol were conducted for Arizona and New Mexico (see Region 3 Plan - Manley and McIntyre 2004). The MSIM Design Team, consisting of USFS wildlife research scientists from around the country, provided guidance on the national protocol based on regional trials (see Design Team). The MSIM protocol is intended to provide a consistent and efficient method for obtaining basic presence/absence population data and associated habitat condition data for a broad suite of vertebrate and plant species, including species of concern and special interest. Species of concern and interest commonly include Management Indicator Species, Forest Service Sensitive species, and state and federally listed species, as well as overall biological diversity.




Objective of MSIM

MartenThe MSIM protocol targets the most basic of questions regarding change in populations and habitat conditions, and is based on a sampling design that can be used to assess change at a range of scales, which is the most cost effective approach to generate reliable change data that is useful at the Forest scale (see MSIM Overview Presentation - Manley and Van Horne 2004). In the MSIM protocol, a simple sampling design is clearly specified and primary survey methods are identified for each of several taxonomic groups, including terrestrial and aquatic birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and plants. The protocol uses the Forest Inventory and Analysis systematic grid as its sampling frame, thus enabling a variety of data sharing options between FIA and MSIM that enhance the objectives of these monitoring programs.





Status of MSIM

The MSIM protocol is published as a Washington Office General Technical Report - WO-GTR-73 (MSIM_gtr). Paper copies of the publication are available by contacting Data forms for the core survey methods are provided here (MSIM_forms) to facilitate implementation. Many thanks and much appreciation to the many individuals who took the time to provide comments and improve the final technical guide. Responses to each comment are documented in MSIM_comments. For additional information, please contact Pat Manley ( or Bea Van Horne (

Last Modified: Mar 28, 2013 02:54:39 PM