The IWMM Monitoring Protocol was developed as a rapid assessment of habitat conditions and waterbird use at wetlands during the non-breeding period. During an extensive pilot phase, the protocols were tested via two validation studies and participant feedback was obtained on what was working and what was not. These efforts have led to revised and improved protocols (i.e., standard operating procedures (SOPs) that are described in detail in the IWMM Monitoring Manual (V8, Feb 2015). As such, the Monitoring Manual is designed to be used by anyone conducting IWMM surveys.
However, within the National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS), specific policy guiding inventory and monitoring activities requires that all refuges develop site-specific protocols for the surveys they plan on implementing. For Refuge System Inventory and Monitoring (I&M) activities, there are two basic forms of survey protocols. A site-specific survey protocol incorporates details needed to conduct a survey at a particular refuge. Conversely, a survey protocol framework is more general in scope and lacks refuge-specific details but provides a foundation for developing a site-specific protocol that will help ensure consistent methodology among multiple refuges within or across Regions. Developed as part of the IWMM approach, the National Protocol Framework for the Inventory and Monitoring of Nonbreeding Waterbirds and their Habitats was created specifically to guide the development of site-specific protocols using IWMM survey techniques at units within the NWRS. This protocol framework was peer-reviewed and approved as a national framework for use by the NWRS in Jan 2015. It provides a complete but flexible treatment of key protocol elements applicable to the rapid assessment of habitat conditions and waterbird use during the non-breeding period.
Anyone conducting IWMM surveys will find all of the information required for implementing the surveys in the IWMM Monitoring Manual. But for those participants interested in developing a site-specific protocol, the NWR’s National Protocol Framework for the Inventory and Monitoring of Nonbreeding Waterbirds and their Habitats provides the additional information and guidance necessary for this endeavor.