The Biological Monitoring Program collects data on the 146 covered species and their associated vegetation communities in order to assess the MSHCP’s effectiveness at meeting conservation goals. Monitoring evaluations are based on species-specific objectives defined in Volume 2 of the MSHCP and are intended to provide for the long-term conservation of all 146 species. These objectives influence the type and frequency of monitoring required and inform adaptive management decisions in the event that MSHCP goals are not being met. Monitoring is conducted on public and quasi-public land and lands that have been acquired under the MSHCP.
This task is more complex because the majority of species covered by the MSHCP had little scientifically-based data at the time the plan was signed. As a result, the monitoring implementation strategy was divided into an initial-inventory phase and a long-term monitoring phase.
The inventory phase included the first eight years of the plan. The purpose of the inventory phase was to determine where covered species currently occur, gather information on activity patterns, develop efficient multi-species detection protocols, and test the reliability of available survey methods.
The information gathered and survey protocols developed during the inventory phase were used to develop long-term monitoring strategies, including:
- Sampling methods and locations,
- Accounting for animals present but not detected,
- Surveying multiple species where possible,
- Identifying feasible environmental and habitat data to be collected during monitoring surveys to best inform land managers in an adaptive management context.
The gradual transition from Inventory Phase to Long-term Monitoring Phase has been underway since 2012. For species with short reporting requirements such as Quino checkerspot butterfly (annual) or coastal California gnatcatcher (every three years) long-term monitoring is already in place. Multiple surveys for species with short reporting requirements have been conducted, providing the initial data points for population trend assessment. For species with longer reporting requirements such as Los Angeles pocket mouse (every eight years) and with species-specific monitoring objectives requiring significant development and testing, the transition from Inventory Phase to Long-term Monitoring Phase is ongoing.