Key Contacts

Lucile Paquette

Contract Ecologist
Appalachian Trail Conservancy

Matt Stevens

Environmental Monitoring Coordinator
Appalachian Trail Conservancy

Fred Dieffenbach

Environmental Monitoring Coordinator
Northeast Temperate Network / Appalachian NST
802-457-3368 ext. 36
802-457-3405 (fax)

Photo Monitoring

Depiction of glacier melt at Glacier National Park.
Depiction of glacier melt at Glacier National Park.
[Photos: W.C. Alden, B. Reardon, U.S. Geological Survey]

Photography is a well-known process, but is probably under-utilized as a technique for quantitative ecological monitoring. Though it may be an under-utilized technique, recent projects comparing newly acquired and historic imagery offer dramatic contrasts resulting from progressive environmental alterations. For example, the USGS Repeat Photography project documents glacial recession in Glacier National Park by comparing imagery taken less than 100-years ago with recently acquired imagery to clearly illustrate the consequences of climate change (see image to left).

So, we are all familiar with photography as a means of capturing candid snapshots and artistic landscapes, but using photography to objectively capture the status of natural resources is equally valuable. Combine that with the fact that the Appalachian Trail environmental monitoring program relies on the contributions of many people, some professional researchers, some volunteers; some very experienced, some not. The amalgamation of programs, experience and expertise creates potential problems that a technique which objectively captures information regardless who is using it is of tremendous value.

Review existing photo monitoring methodologies, extract desirable procedures and techniques and combine them into a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) that:

a) is simple and easy to implement
b) reduces subjectivity with clear and concise guidance
c) can be implemented independently or integrated into other monitoring programs
d) is portable and does not rely on permanent markers or post

Bullet point Introduction to PicturePosts
Bullet point USGS Repeat Photography Project
Bullet point Photo point monitoring handbook: part A - field procedures (U.S. Forest Service)
Bullet point Minimum Standards for Nebraska NRCS Photo-Point Monitoring (PDF, 5 pp., 172 KB)
Bullet point Terrestrial Ecology Observing Systems
Bullet point Califonia Rangelands Photo Monitoring

Web Resources for Photo Monitoring
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