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About Standard Sampling


Why should a fish biologist care about standard sampling? Standardization of industrial processes, languages, measurements, and data collection methods has been essential for world progress. Think about the degree of standardization in most elements of our society. For example, thread sizes of nuts and bolts, dimensions of a letter, and size of a USB port are all standardized. Data collection is standardized in many disciplines such as medicine, meteorology, geology, and water chemistry. If blood pressure, cholesterol, and body temperature were not measured in a standardized manner, even the most basic data about our health would be hard to evaluate.

For data collection purposes, standarization means to collect data in one way so comparisons can be easily made. Although routine data collection has been standardized in many disciplines, until recently, data from routine fish sampling across North America has not. Previously, most data collection had be standardized at the local, state or provincial levels.

In the 1980's and 1990's, work to move toward standardization was initiated by the Fisheries Techniques Standardization Committee, Fisheries Management Section of the American Fisheries Society. This work resulted in a compilation of methods that were used across North America, but actual selection of a subset of methods for standardized sampling of lakes, ponds, rivers, or streams was not completed.

At the 2004 annual meeting of the American Fisheries Society, a unanimous vote by attendees at the Fisheries Management Section annual business meeting led to continued work by the Fisheries Techniques Standardization Committee to develop standard sampling procedures for North America, and was facilitated by a grant from the section. Other partners contributed funds and assistance to this project including the U.S.Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the National Park Service, the Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units and the National Biological Information Infrastructure Programs of the US Geological Survey, the US Bureau of Land Management, the Arizona Game and Fish Department,and the Fisheries Education and the Fisheries Information and Technology Sections of the American Fisheries Society.

284 biologists and managers from 107 agencies, universities, and businesses contributed to the project as authors, reviewers, or sponsors. Biologists from state, federal and local agencies, universities, and private organizations across Canada, Mexico and the United States developed these methods. After methods were developed, they recieved five different rounds of reviews, two of which were from across North America, and were even critiqued by biologists from seven European and one African countries.

In 2009, a book of these methods; which apply to ponds, reservoirs, natural lakes, and streams and rivers containing cold and warmwater fishes; was published by the American Fisheries Society. In addition, range-wide and eco-regional averages for indices of abundance, population structure, and condition for individual species were supplied to facilitate comparisons of standard data among populations. Other chapters included information on converting nonstandard to standard data, statistical and database procedures for analyzing and storing standard data, and methods to prevent transfer of invasive species while sampling.

Click on the book link to the side to see where you can get your copy of the standard techniques.

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