Integrated Surveys

Infrastructure access to grids or modules and accommodation for researchers are among the most costly items for any monitoring system. Independent studies by a series of researchers, each an expert in a particular taxon, results in an unnecessary duplication of effort (Lawson et al. 2005). This results in total costs orders of magnitude greater than required if the same surveys are integrated.

Lack of planning is also a problem for professionals involved in the management of parks and reserves because they are unable to control or monitor the impacts of researchers if they do not know beforehand where associated collection efforts will occur. Besides being more economical with generally scarce financial resources, a permanent and integrated system also allows professionals to monitor and control access to potentially sensitive areas.

Environmental data and the data for different groups of organisms cannot be integrated if they have been collected at different scales. When collected at the same scale (standardization), integrated surveys allow for the quick and efficient analysis of data.

The following table contains data typically collected from uncoordinated surveys:

Plot Species Density Vegetation Structure Soil Type Altitude
A 4.3 55    
B 5.9      
C 6.7   78  
D 3.8 34   36
E 6.4      


One researcher collected density data for their favored organism in all plots that were of interest to their particular study. Other researchers collected data on the same site for vegetation structure, soil particle size and altitude, but the collection points coincide only in some cases. Integrated analyzes are not possible because computer-based analytical packages usually eliminate those inputs that lack data for all variables. You can request that the statistical package or Geographic Information System (GIS) "invents" data by extrapolation or interpolation from other already-studied localities, but few researchers do this due to the questionable validity of subsequent analyzes. Besides, for statistical analysis the degrees of freedom should not exceed the actual number of investigated sites.

The next table contains an example of integrated and structured data that can be analysed in a variety of ways, and by a variety of users:


      Plot   Species Density Vegetation Structure    Soil      Altitude
A 4.3 55 28 23
B 5.9 87 44 113
C 6.7 65 78 57
D 3.8 34 59 36
E 6.4 66 41 98    


These types of integrated data sets can be collected at a much lower cost, and are far more useful to the great majority of users. For this reason (maximum data gain for the lowest cost), PPBio "RAPELD" surveys are based on standard modules, each of which may be used for a wide variety of organisms.