[Taxacom] long-term ecological monitoring

Bob Mesibov mesibov at southcom.com.au
Tue Sep 1 01:37:04 CDT 2009

Frederick W Schueler wrote:

"There's apparently no organization whose central mandate is long-term ecological/natural history monitoring and understanding ecological and evolutionary change in Canada. There are museums and numerous long-term and middle-term monitoring projects, each doing their own thing, while conservation groups and some government agencies try to ensure that sites and ecosystems stay the same.  But there seems to be no organized group dedicated to seeing that long term monitoring, which would seem to be a fundamental component of sustainable human habitation of the Earth."

I think a lot of people and organisations, including nearly all those who have the resources to fund what you want, would disagree with your last clause ("...which would seem..."). And if it isn't seen as vital or urgent, then what you're proposing becomes just another data-gathering project that might best fit under the LTER umbrella (http://www.lternet.edu/).

Alternatively, long-term monitoring might be seen as what the managers of some special place should be doing as part of their job. Examples might be national parks, conservation-managed public lands or private reserves. Canada as a whole is a bit big for that slot. Or, monitoring favoured taxa over a long time, which is what many bird-o groups like to do.

The key point, I think, isn't whether LTEM is or isn't necessary for the persistence of humans, but whether LTEM can really deliver answers relevant to sustainability questions. How exactly, for example, does doing species-abundance tallies on a stream in Ontario every 5 years tell you anything more than daily turbidity and conductivity logging - which is much cheaper and easier to do?
Dr Robert Mesibov
Honorary Research Associate
Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, and
School of Zoology, University of Tasmania
Home contact: PO Box 101, Penguin, Tasmania, Australia 7316
(03) 64371195; 61 3 64371195
Website: http://www.qvmag.tas.gov.au/mesibov.html

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