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Concepts, problems, considerations, and approaches were outlined for establishing a monitoring program for the amphibians of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The monitoring approach that is selected (which species will be monitored, where they will be monitored, how many sites will be monitored, and which techniques will be used) will be determined by the funding (and personnel) available and the specific objectives of Park managers. In this regard, a three-pronged approach to amphibian monitoring within the Park is presented in figure 47. The decision path is based on minimum, medium, and maximum levels of funding, although exact amounts are deliberately not specified.
Decision Path for Monitoring Amphibians at Great Smoky Mountains National Park
To increase sample size, the same terrestrial and stream sites need not be searched annually. For example, 50 terrestrial sites could be searched one year; a second 50 searched the second year; and a third 50 searched the third year, after which the cycle could be repeated. Unfortunately, however, there is a tradeoff with this approach. If a rotation is used, sample size is increased (a good thing), but the amount of time it takes to complete a cycle is greatly extended (12 years to get four samples per location). Amphibian populations may change dramatically in this amount of time, and trends could be missed or misinterpreted.
A rotating schedule could also be used to vary survey species or areas. For example, researchers might decide to alternate Hellbender and cave surveys every other year if money became limited. Or, Hellbenders could be monitored for 2 years in Little River, and at the other locations every third year. Planning is absolutely essential, and figure 47 is meant as a guide to approaches that might be considered rather than an absolute schedule.
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