Graham Sustainability Institute

Developing New Ways to Analyze Reserve Monitoring Data

October 2017

The National Estuarine Research Reserve System forms a network of coastal sites protected for long-term stewardship, research, and education. To support this mission, the reserve system established the System-Wide Monitoring Program (SWMP) in 1995 to conduct long-term monitoring of water quality, weather, coastal habitat, and biological communities using consistent methods. The monitoring program is critical for reserve coastal management and research. However, realizing the full value of the program is limited by the lack of time, technical expertise, and computational resources reserves have for analyzing large, complex data sets. 

This project addressed these constraints by producing tools, graphical support, and training for research staff from the Mid-Atlantic reserves (Jacques Cousteau, Delaware, Chesapeake Bay-Maryland, and Chesapeake Bay-Virginia) to better utilize reserve monitoring data. The project team specifically focused on producing tools to understand water quality trends—a reserve management priority. Through workshops and statistical application development, this project increased capacity to distill monitoring data into a format that resource managers can more readily use. The project team shared their approach and project outputs with participating reserves to increase capacity for the reserve monitoring program.

The National Estuarine Research Reserve System forms a network of coastal sites protected for long-term stewardship, research, and education. To support this mission, the reserve system established the System-Wide Monitoring Program (SWMP) in 1995 to conduct long-term monitoring of water quality, weather, coastal habitat, and biological communities using consistent methods. The monitoring program is critical for reserve coastal management and research. However, realizing the full value of the program is limited by the lack of time, technical expertise, and computational resources reserves have for analyzing large, complex data sets. 

This project addressed these constraints by producing tools, graphical support, and training for research staff from the Mid-Atlantic reserves (Jacques Cousteau, Delaware, Chesapeake Bay-Maryland, and Chesapeake Bay-Virginia) to better utilize reserve monitoring data. The project team specifically focused on producing tools to understand water quality trends—a reserve management priority. Through workshops and statistical application development, this project increased capacity to distill monitoring data into a format that resource managers can more readily use. The project team shared their approach and project outputs with participating reserves to increase capacity for the reserve monitoring program.