After all of the field season preparation is complete and some amount of trip planning has occurred, it is time to begin collecting data. Crews should verify that they have all of the necessary equipment before departing for the field each time.
No matter how well the crew knows the sampling methods, they should always have a copy of the Terrestrial Monitoring Manual, or Lotic Field Protocol for Wadeable Systems – 1735-2 (as appropriate) on hand in case questions or unusual situations arise. Those familiar with previous lotic protocols should thoroughly review the Lotic Field Protocol for Wadeable Systems Version 2 Changes prior to initiating data collection. Terrestrial crews should also have a copy of the Terrestrial Rejection Criteria Protocol on hand to help support decisions regarding when a site can be rejected in the field.
Crews should document the fate of each point that is visited or sampled at the end of each field trip (i.e. hitch). All of this documentation should be stored in a single spreadsheet file which is to be submitted to the NOC with the data at the end of the field season. Lotic crews should document the fate of each point in their project-specific Design Management Spreadsheet (see the Lotic Evaluation and Design Management Protocol for further instructions). Terrestrial crews should use a plot tracking spreadsheet which can be downloaded from the Documenting Terrestrial Point Rejection and Sampling Status page. These files should be used to aid in management of the monitoring design. For guidance on how to appropriately document the fate of each terrestrial point, click here.
Crews are also encouraged to keep a detailed field notebook or daily log where they can document activities of each day (i.e. which points were visited, sampled, or rejected; problems encountered; etc.). Field logs can be incredibly helpful for refreshing the memory, especially when a data question arises several months later.
Project leads should make sure to check in with their crew following each hitch to answer any questions and to see how data collection is proceeding. Past project leads also recommend periodically going out into the field with the crew, when possible. Crew members and project leads are always encouraged to reach out to the AIM implementation team representatives with questions. Project leads are also responsible for scheduling early-season (lotic only), mid-season, and end-of-season check-ins with the NOC and NAMC to go over data and provide updates on the project status. For lotic project leads it could be helpful to have the crew produce an end of season implementation report (See this End of Season Implementation Report for an example)
Helpful Documents and Links