Developing a monitoring program for invertebrates: Guidelines and a case study

Jason R. Rohr, Carolyn G. Mahan, Ke Chung Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


Invertebrates provide the majority of ecosystem services; thus, it is important that they be inventoried, monitored, and protected. Nevertheless, inventories, monitoring, and management generally focus on vertebrates and flowering plants. Consequently, there are few guidelines or case studies for invertebrates. We present a procedure for developing a monitoring program for species-rich invertebrates that entails (1) characterizing the community; (2) identifying surrogates for biodiversity; and (3) establishing efficient methods to monitor surrogates and any ecologically important or sensitive taxa. We used these procedures, biodiversity-based statistical advances, and a survey of arthropods to develop a monitoring plan for the forests of Shenandoah National Park, Virginia (U.S.A.). Our case study revealed that mixed hardwood and hemlock forests had significantly different compositions of arthropods in their soil and understory strata. Of the 10 orders tested Coleoptera and Hymenoptera were the only two to pass most of the five surrogate tests, and their combination improved predictions of overall arthropod diversity. Because arthropods represent the majority of macroscopic species in most ecosystems, the ability of this assemblage to predict overall arthropod diversity makes it a powerful surrogate. Of the 11 collecting methods used, the beat-sheet method was the most efficient for monitoring this surrogate assemblage. To complement this coarse-filter approach to monitoring at-risk, invasive, or other important taxa (fine filter), we used ordination analyses to match 66 taxa with the methods that most effectively sampled them. Our methods serve as a model for developing an invertebrate monitoring plan and should facilitate linking such monitoring with ecosystem functions and management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)422-433
Number of pages12
JournalConservation Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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