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    Background & Methodology

    BeringWatch Methodology

    The basic BeringWatch methodology is based on the Island Sentinel model developed and refined on the Pribilof Islands. At each location there are one or more primary (aka “Target” or “Focal”) species or environmental phenomena which are the main focus of attention. In addition to the primary species or aspect of the local environment, observations of other important species or phenomena that are encountered in the area can be recorded opportunistically. The primary focus varies from location to location and can be added or updated as the collection process matures. However, we believe it is important to begin with a limited number of primary species or objects and only increase these after the process has been operating successfully.

    Focal species are chosen considering several criteria, including (1) known consistency in availability, (2) observability, and (3) ecological importance. Ultimately the format can include any species of plant or animal or environmental phenomena. Focal species can be added in a community one at a time so that consistent protocols can be designed to maximize the reliability of the data over time. As focal species are chosen, it is important to make a conservative estimate about how much time it takes to get a good count, particularly in the worst conditions. If adding a new species will negatively impact the existing data collection then it is not advisable to do so. Instead, it is still possible to collect data on the new species but to keep it in the “Opportunistic” rather than the “Focal” category.

    The observation protocols are written to be general in scope to allow adaptation to various locations and species. One of the first tasks of operation at the local level is to refine the methodology to suit the specifics of the monitoring program at each site and for each suite of species.