Tuna - considerations for data collection
Finding and collating information that already may exist for the lake, river or stream you are interested in, choosing the right sampling methods, and making sure that the data you work hard to collect is stored safely are all important things to consider in your monitoring programme.
Collate existing information
The pulling together and consolidation of any existing historical or previous sources of data is an important resource for the design and interpretation of future research studies. For a particular catchment of interest, you may also want to consider any existing data from neighbouring catchments, where the fish populations may be subjected to similar environmental variables. There are a range of types of data to be considered:
- mātauranga Māori and local ecological knowledge
- published literature such as reports, books and published scientific papers
- customary, recreational and commercial catch information.
Whatever sampling methods and sites are used (discussed further below), one of the most important considerations in undertaking research/surveys for long term benefit is consistency, which allows you to compare your results over time.
You can always improve by adding sites and different sampling techniques, but it is best to repeat surveys (perhaps with a reduced number of sites, if you have less time available) using the same methods that you started with. The timing - i.e. summer vs. winter - with which the sampling is undertaken is also an important aspect to keep as consistent as possible over time.
The data you collect should be looked after like any asset. Electronically-stored data should be protected by security systems and disaster recovery programs. If this is not possible, ensure that you have a backup copy or copies safely stored in a couple of other locations, in case of fire, for example.
All hard copy data sets, specimens, otoliths, histological slides and tissue samples should be archived in a safe location.