Confidence,,, Colorado (John Kingston) kingston at WRDMAIL.ER.USGS.GOV
Mon Jun 12 18:00:44 CDT 1995

At 04:30 PM 6/9/95 PDT, cheheyr at DHW.STATE.ID.US wrote:
>Here's a practical question for those of you who have complained about
>discussions on TAXACOM, and any others who can help. Our laboratory is doing
>on insects, fungi, and algae.  In addition, we oversee contracts with
>private parties and
>universities for our overflow work.
>One of our largest clients has asked that we develop a method of quantifying
>our confidence
>in our determinations.


In the big-money, politically-charged acid rain debate of the 1980s, we used
paleolimnological techniques in multi-institution programs to tell the
Electric Power Research Institute and the US Environmental Protection Agency
about damage to and recovery of lakes. The North American version of this
was the PIRLA project, the European version was called SWAP.  Much of our
work was based on transfer functions relating species composition of diverse
biological groups (diatoms, chrysophytes, insects) to physical-chemical lake
variables.  The largest biological QA/QC issue was taxonomy, including both
inter- and intra-lab issues.

A few obscure publications about biological QA came out of this, including:

Cumming, B.F., J.P. Smol, J.C. Kingston, S.S. Dixit, A.J. Uutala, and D.F.
Charles.  1990.  Appendix A. Paleolimnological Variability. In: Sullivan,
T.J.  Historical changes in surface water acid-base chemistry in response to
acidic deposition.  Report 11. In: NAPAP State of Science and Technology,
National Acid Precipitation Assessment Program, Washington, D.C. (sorry for
the nested "in")

Kingston, J.C., B.F. Cumming, A.J. Uutala, J.P. Smol, K.E. Camburn, D.F.
Charles, S.S. Dixit, and R.G. Kreis, Jr.  1992.  Biological quality control
and quality assurance: a case study in paleolimnological biomonitoring.  p.
1542-1543 IN: McKenzie, D.H., D.E. Hyatt, and V.J. McDonald (eds.)
Ecological Indicators, Volume 2. Elsevier Applied Science, London.

Munro, M.A.R., A.M. Kreiser, R.W. Battarbee, S. Juggins, A.C. Stevenson,
D.S. Anderson, N.J. Anderson, F. Berge, H.J.B. Birks, R.B. Davis, R.J.
Flower, S.C. Fritz, E.Y. Haworth, V.J. Jones, J.C. Kingston, and I. Renberg.
1990.  Diatom quality control and data handling.  Phil. Trans. R. Soc. Lond.
B. 327: 257-261.

Charles, D.F. and D.R. Whitehead (eds.)  1986.  Paleoecological
Investigation of Recent Lake Acidification, Methods and Project Description.
Electric Power Research Institute, Palo Alto, CA.  (EA-4906, Research
Project 2174-10) (this report includes a 3-page confidence-in-taxonomy
method written by Jesse Ford, as well as other QA sections about
coordinating taxonomy, good taxonomic practices, etc.)

Copies of the EPRI report are available from:
Electric Power Research Institute
Research Reports Center
Box 50490, Palo Alto, CA 94303
tel: 415-965-4081


I am now involved in another large monitoring effort requiring taxonomic QA,
the U.S. Geological Survey's National Water-Quality Assessment Program
(NAWQA) on major river systems in the USA.  NAWQA is dealing with
contractors, and we do this by having a Biological Quality Assurance Unit at
the National Water Quality Lab, in which we have taxonomic experts to
oversee the contractors.

Best wishes,

John C. Kingston
Biological QA Unit

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