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Minimum Data Standards for Nesting Beach Monitoring

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Although there has been some standardization of nesting beach monitoring protocols, no global standards have been adopted. The result is that different projects report different types of data and use different methods to collect the data, which make results largely incompatible.
With this in mind, the SWOT Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) recognized the need to establish minimum data standards (MDS) for data provided to the SWOT database 1) to identify datasets that could be included in future analyses of abundance and long-term trends, and 2) to provide SWOT Team members (i.e. data providers) with guidelines for improving their existing monitoring schemes to enhance effectiveness of documenting local temporal sea turtle nesting abundance patterns.

Follow the links below to access these reports, as well as several useful resources, that describe the Minimum Data Standards recommendations as well as SWOT's new data classification system.
The full Technical Report explains in detail the background, methods, results, and recommendations generated by the SWOT Scientific Advisory Board for minimum standards for nesting beach monitoring.

  • Click here to download the full full version of the MDS Technical Report
  • Click here to download the Russo and Girondot reports referred to in the Technical Report

For a user-friendly, field-ready guide to the MDS, we also created a MDS Handbook. The Handbook is available here in English, Spanish and French.

  • Click here to download the MDS Handbook in English
  • Click here to download the MDS Handbook in Spanish
  • Click here to download the MDS Handbook in French

To help you identify an appropriate monitoring protocol for your circumstances, and to assess whether your current protocol meets SWOT's minimum data standards, please review the Decision Key (also found in the MDS Handbook).

To generate seasonal abundance estimates for your nesting data, we provide below free software created by Professor Marc Girondot. This software package is a user-friendly interface that allows data providers to simply drop in a *.txt file of their nest counts by date counted to obtain estimates of total abundance for a season, with confidence intervals. These data can be emailed directly to the SWOT Database Manager for inclusion into the SWOT database.

The recommendations contained in these documents describe monitoring protocols, but not specific methods used to count and assess sea turtle nesting activities. For detailed descriptions of methods, see Research and Management Techniques for the Conservation of Sea Turtles (Eckert et al. 1999).

  • Click here to download the IUCN/MTSG Research and Techniques Manual in English
  • Click here to download the IUCN/MTSG Research and Techniques Manual in Spanish

If you have any problems downloading or opening these resources, please contact the SWOT Database Manager.