Aquatic Plant Research > Scientific Data on Aquatic Plant Communities > Wisconsin Standard Method to Collect Aquatic Plant Data > Survey Tools and Training
Aquatic Plant Research
Survey Tools and Training
DNR Science Services researchers share information, techniques and tools related to the point-intercept methodology with interested stakeholders.
In order to provide descriptive survey results to lake groups, citizens, DNR managers and others, DNR Science Services researchers have created and distributed hundreds of individualized lake reports and AIS distribution maps. Narrative summary reports allow interested individuals to better understand the aquatic plant community data being collected by DNR Science Services and allows for an improved understanding of lake ecology and aquatic invasive species by the general public.
Science Services conducts numerous aquatic plant surveys in lakes across the state every summer, resulting in a large amount of data to store and manage. With over 100,000 pieces of information collected each year, researchers needed a streamlined method of data collection and entry from field to computer. To reduce data-handling time and increase efficiency, researchers began collecting data electronically in the field with Toughbook Laptop computers. This method also streamlined data transfer directly into GIS programs for mapping and analysis. Electronic data collection has saved substantial worker hours and dramatically improved turn-around time for data requests. Lake reports and data are now available to aquatic plant managers, consultants and individual lake associations almost as soon as it is collected.
Recognizing a need for in-field training on the standard point-intercept sampling method, DNR Science Services have provided training to dozens of field workers at various locations across the state. Hands-on training with a variety of state, tribal, county, and private individuals statewide ensures that standardized sampling methodologies are understood and utilized, and ensures that data being collected is comparable.
DNR Science Services have developed a standardized methodology for sampling aquatic plants in lakes and flowages, and established a centralized system for creating grid maps, processing coordinate requests, and storing standard point-intercept grid maps and GPS coordinate files. To date, Science Services has provided maps and points for over 1292 lakes and flowages throughout WI. This work supports plant sampling by the DNR Bureau of Water Quality, counties, municipalities, Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, consultants, universities and lake associations. Providing standardized point-intercept grids and methodology allows survey results to be comparable across different lakes, years, and surveyors, and allows managers and policy makers to easily understand and compare survey data. Wisconsin's peer-reviewed standardized methodology has been adopted by other states and regions.
Taking someone's weight and height are two different approaches to collecting data about a person, and if you want to know whether a someone is growing over the course of a year, you shouldn't compare their weight in January to their height in December. However, before we established a standard approach to collecting data on aquatic plants, researchers used to employ different methods that would produce similarly incomparable data. Recognizing the need to understand the status of aquatic plant communities in Wisconsin lakes, scientists created a single, standardized observation method. Now, researchers, lake managers, and consultants use the same method to collect information about aquatic plant communities, and we can better understand the status of the many species of plants that provide habitat to wildlife and keep lake water clear. We have written a detailed manual that explains how to conduct a survey, including details on how to use the data to make plant community maps and how to assess changes that occur in plant communities over time.