Tools Used in Data Analysis

The AIM team at the National Operations Center have been developing tools for users to conduct analysis of their AIM data. To provide context for how these tools can be used, we have outlined where these tools fit into the AIM analysis and reporting workflow (Figure 1):

Figure 1. Analysis and Reporting Workflow. Tools to support the workflow are in yellow text.

Detailed descriptions of each tool are below. For more information and analysis support, contact the Aquatic Analyst (Nicole Cappuccio) or the Terrestrial AIM Lead (Emily Kachergis).

Monitoring Design Worksheet

The monitoring design worksheet is a step-by-step template for completing an AIM sample design. This worksheet is basically a monitoring plan that documents decisions and reasons for completing monitoring, provides the necessary information for drawing sample points and serves as the basis for analyses once data are collected. See Design pages for more information.

Design Tracking files

Design tracking files contain all points in a design for a given year including targeted points. Design tracking files are used to track all points that were evaluated. See the Point Evaluation & Rejection page for more information.


DIMA/SARAH are the electronic data applications used to collect field data. See Crew Hiring & Equipment page for more information.


TerrADat and AquADat are national databases housed at the NOC that store computed indicators for all AIM data. See Data Access page and the Gather and understand your field data section of the Preparing for Analysis page for more information.

Benchmark Tools

Both the lotic and terrestrial benchmark tools allow users to derive plot/reach specific conditions by defining benchmarks for individual indicators. Results can be used to assess the condition and trend of an individual plot/reach (e.g., designated monitoring area [DMA] used for a grazing permit renewal). Additionally this tool is also meant to: 1) organize data into a usable format for additional analyses, 2) document monitoring objectives, and 3) provide needed information to the NOC to conduct weighted analyses and assess the condition of a population of plots/reaches (e.g., random sampling of all BLM, wadeable streams in the Bruneau field office, ID). Note: Condition summaries within these tools may be used for unweighted analyses but should not be used to infer the proportion of the landscape in a given condition.

To conduct weighted analyses and assess the condition of a population of stream reaches, completed benchmark tools should be sent back to the NOC at the end of the study: Nicole Cappuccio for lotic or Alex Laurence-Traynor for terrestrial. The NOC will then derive statistical estimates of the percent of acres/kilometers in a given condition (proportional estimates) for the specified indicators and produce and additional figures to aid with interpreting these results.

Lotic Benchmark Tool:

This tool allows users to derive reach specific condition ratings by defining benchmarks for individual indicators. The degree of departure of observed indicator values from benchmarks is used to assign condition ratings of major, moderate, or minor departure from reference conditions. To assign benchmarks and derive subsequent conditions, data from AquADat will need to be copied into the tool. Users can then assess condition ratings based on a set of default benchmarks or specify user-defined, custom benchmarks. Multiple reporting units can be included in each tool as long as the benchmarks for a given reach do not change between reporting units; If benchmarks change among reporting units for a given reach, please use separate benchmark tools for each reporting unit.

The benchmark tool was designed in excel 2010 so users with excel 2013 or 2017 may need to adjust the size of cells so that all text can be viewed, but all other functionality should be the same. Note some cells and worksheets are read only so that formulas in the tool are not broken. Specific instructions can be found on the introduction worksheet along with navigation arrows to assist with navigation through the document.

Download the Lotic Benchmark Tool!

Terrestrial Benchmark Tool:

This tool allows users to set benchmarks within some area of interest (e.g., BLM lands within a field office). The degree of departure of observed indicator values from benchmarks is used to assign conditions of: Meeting and Not meeting or Suitable, Marginal, Unsuitable, and Not Suitable. To assign benchmarks and derive subsequent conditions, data from TerrADat and LMF will need to be copied into the tool. Benchmarks should already have been defined in users’ Monitoring Design Worksheets but can be updated throughout the field season and prior to any analysis being done. Once the benchmark tool has been fully (and correctly) completed, summary tables are automatically populated with their respective data based on the objectives set by the user. Multiple reporting units can be accounted for in the terrestrial benchmark tool.

Download the AIM Terrestrial Benchmark Tool Version 3.1!  This version is made specifically to work with the new database format adopted starting in the 2018 field season.  It is compatible with the AIM Data Portal and any dataset that includes 2018 or later. Older versions of the benchmark tool will not work with data exported from the AIM Data Portal. For questions related to using the terrestrial benchmark tool contact Alex Laurence-Traynor.

Example Results

Plot/Reach Specific and Unweighted Analysis Results

Weighted Analysis Results

Tools for Advanced Users

Calculating Proportional Estimates

Simple Horvitz-Thompson Estimator Tool:

This tool can be used to produce proportional estimates from survey data either 1) for a study area without strata or 2) within a stratum. Note: this tool does NOT take into consideration any survey/monitoring design information (e.g., stratum weights). It is only appropriate to use this tool for exploratory data analysis and generating quick, preliminary estimates from monitoring data. For final indicator summaries, you should use the Spsurvey R package below which will account for monitoring design information.

Spsurvey R Package:

This R statistical package requires R programming knowledge. The above link brings you to the PDF that describes the different functions used within the the package. This package is a group of functions that implements algorithms for design and analysis of probability designs. These functions are tailored for Generalized Random Tessellation Stratified (GRTS) monitoring designs.

Determining Sampling Sufficiency for Landscape Monitoring Objectives

Sample Sufficiency Calculator:

This sampling sufficiency tool is intended for evaluating how many sample points are needed to determine if an observed or estimated proportion of sample points meet a given management objective (stated as a proportion of the study area). The estimated proportion/area/length from sampling is compared against a specified threshold value for the reporting unit with the idea that meeting or crossing the threshold could result in determining the indicator does not meet a standard or trigger management action.

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