Main content area

A comparison between professionally (Florida Department of Environmental Protection) and volunteer (Florida LAKEWATCH) collected trophic state chemistry data in Florida

Hoyer, Mark V., Wellendorf, Nijole, Frydenborg, Russel, Bartlett, Drew, Canfield, Daniel E.
Lake and reservoir management 2012 v.28 no.4 pp. 277-281
biologists, chlorophyll, compliance, cost effectiveness, lakes, monitoring, nitrogen content, phosphorus, quality control, standard operating procedures, volunteers, Florida
Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) professional biologists and Florida LAKEWATCH volunteers sampled 27 Florida lakes simultaneously to measure the concentrations of total phosphorus, total nitrogen, and chlorophyll. Each program used their Standard Operating Procedures for both field and laboratory activities to determine data comparability. Results showed that LAKEWATCH data were nearly equivalent to FDEP's, which were collected using stringent quality assurance (QA) protocols and analyzed in a National Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Conference (NELAC)-certified laboratory in compliance with the state's QA rule. The R² values for paired comparisons of total phosphorus, total nitrogen, and chlorophyll were 0.97, 0.90, and 0.97, respectively, indicating functionally equal values between programs. Properly trained volunteers should be viewed as partners, and volunteer monitoring can be embraced as a robust tool for obtaining credible, cost-effective data. Studies like this demonstrate that data collected by volunteer monitoring programs are suitable for regulatory decisions, if such programs and agencies work together to ensure necessary data quality and documentation.