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The field manuals are endorsed by experienced researchers, managers, and technicians from multiple agencies with broad subject-matter expertise, and are being championed as the way forward to further build nationally coordinated marine research and monitoring. They cover survey design, planning and reporting, quality control, data management, discoverability and accessibility, and standardised methods to acquire data using:
- multibeam echosounder;
- autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV);
- benthic and pelagic baited remote underwater video systems (BRUVS);
- towed imagery;
- grabs and box corers; and
- sleds and trawls.
Rachel Przeslawski of Geoscience Australia (GA) and Scott Foster of CSIRO led the National Environmental Science Program Marine Biodiversity Hub project that developed the field manuals.
“We have a massive shared responsibility to manage our marine resources and environment,” Dr Przeslawski says. “The manuals provide standardised, national methods for collecting consistent, well-documented and powerful marine datasets showing how things may be changing through time over a larger geographic area.
“These sampling approaches can be incorporated in project proposals and cited in publications, helping researchers make more efficient use of their time and resources. Ultimately, the manuals will contribute to a national monitoring program with pooled datasets of use to us all.”
Dr Przeslawski and Dr Foster worked with more than 70 researchers from 30 agencies – including the Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS) and Australian Ocean Data Network (AODN) – to refine the current thinking on marine data collection. Together they ensured consistencies across the various sampling platforms, which are rarely used in isolation.
“It was vital for this to be a collaborative effort, so we tapped into the desire of most researchers for robust, well-documented data collection, and sought advice from research, government, regulatory and commercial agencies,” Dr Przeslawski says. “This increases the potential for the standards to be adopted across multiple agencies and monitoring programs.”
IMOS Director and Chair of the National Marine Science Committee, Tim Moltmann, is encouraging institutional partners to adopt the standards as a part of the pathway towards developing national baselines and long-term monitoring.
“Using standard operating procedures will allow us to build bigger datasets and longer time series because field work done by different organisations in different places at different times will produce outputs that are nationally consistent,” Mr Moltmann says. “The Marine Biodiversity Hub can ensure this happens in all of the field work it supports, and IMOS can ensure this happens in the ongoing field programs it supports.
“We hope to convince regulators to require the same standards to be used in environmental impact assessments and operational monitoring programs. The research and development sector, government agencies, consultants and marine industries working together in this way would be a great outcome for Australia’s blue economy.”
This news item was originally published on the NESP Marine Biodiversity Hub website, to read the full news item: https://www.nespmarine.edu.au/news/marine-sampling-field-manuals-support-biodiversity-monitoring-national-scale.