Aquatic Resource Monitoring

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Statistical issues for monitoring ecological and natural resources in the United States

Olsen, A.R., Sedransk, J., Edwards, D., Gotway, C.A., Liggett, W., et al (1999)

Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 54, 1-45.


The United States funds a number of national monitoring programs to measure the status and trends of ecological and natural resources. Each of these programs has a unique focus; the scientific objectives are different as are the sample designs. However, individuals and committees, all well aware of the cost of ecological monitoring, have called for more effective monitoring programs. The objective of this paper is to summarize existing programs' statistical designs and discuss potential alternatives for improvement in national monitoring. Can we improve the current situation by providing an overall framework for the design or analysis of data from these disparate surveys? First, the paper summarizes the objectives of these surveys, compares and contrasts their survey designs as currently implemented, and determines what variables they collect. Through this process we identify commonalities and issues that impact our ability to combine information across one or more of the surveys. Three potential alternatives are presented, leading to comprehensive monitoring in the United States.

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