Ministry of Environment

Fisheries InventoryFisheries Inventory

FAQ - Field Sampling

Q: What is the purpose of the helicopter over-flight?

A: If this option is chosen, fly enough of the drainage to determine the accuracy of reach breaks, locate features (barriers, etc.) and assess access.

Q: Do we need to identify unmapped tributaries in the field that are too steep for fish to use?

A: If the tributary is big enough (i.e., If it has enough water, etc., and was likely missed in the original mapping) you may want to identify it. If it is more of a gully-type one (i.e., steep, flowing water only after storms, etc.), you only need to identify if you think it is important to know for the inventory (e.g., likely to have some impact downstream, impact on fish distribution, sediment at confluence causing obstruction, etc.) Basically, small, insignificant drainages that aren't really streams/channels you can ignore if you don't think they are important to know for the inventory.

Q: Can the hard copy stream survey, lake and fish forms that we used in the field last year be used again this year or have the standards changed such that we have to re-order any/all of these forms?

A: The current hardcopy forms are the same since the most recent changes in 1998. There are a couple of slight variations in the definitions, so you should probably check those.

Q: Does the lake survey form need to be filled in for all lakes or just the lakes that are picked to be sampled.

A: If no lakes are to be sampled then only the lakes table needs to be filled in. The lake survey form needs to be filled in when field sampling is involved.

Fish Collection Forms

Q: Do we have to fill out a Fish Collection Form for every sample site on a stream?

A: Yes, a Fish Collection Form must be completed for every sample site on a stream even if no fish were caught.

Q: Clarify the requirement for a secondary fish sampling method on streams. Do we still need a secondary method if fish were captured using a primary method?

A: Yes, the default is two sampling methods. The second method is used to sample any habitat, life stage or species you feel may have been overlooked by systematic electrofishing. You have to justify your reasons if you use only one method.

Q: What do I do with the Fish Summary portion of the card?

A: The total number of each species captured in each sampling "event" is recorded in the Fish Summary section of the Fish Collection Form. This is the total number of fish captured, including those for which individual fish data was recorded. Sampling "events" are referenced by site, method and number. Total fish captures would then be recorded as Site =1, Method = EF, No. = 1, Species = RB, LNC, etc). Recording by haul or pass number and by age group within species is allowed, but not required for the reconnaissance sampling site.

The Fish Summary section is needed because often, when large numbers of fish are captured, not all fish captured are recorded as individual fish records. Individual fish records are not automatically summarized into the fish summary.

The Fish Summary can also be used to record fish observation data obtained from a snorkel survey.

Note there are only five lines for recording summary information. If six or more "event" and species combinations are required, users are asked to record the information on an additional Fish Collection Form or on field note paper dedicated to the fish sampling site.

Q: Regarding the "site no." field on the fish form. I assume this is different than the physical sample site number from the site card and will therefore need a separate NID or UTM?

A: The site number field represents the same site number on the fish and site cards when physical and fish inventory are completed at the same location. For the reconnaissance survey, fish sampling is done at the sites described by the site card. For most FRBC stream sampling there is typically one site per reach for both fish and physical inventory. If additional sampling is done another site reference is used. Where the site number for fish becomes more important is in lakes, where there may be multiple sample sites.

Q: If we salt a stream to increase its' conductivity, when do we record the conductivity? Before or after?

A: Conductivity should be taken before the salting, for the conductivity fields on the forms. However, if salting is undertaken in order to increase conductivity for electrofishing, etc., this should be noted along with the salted conductivity measurement in the comments section of the fish card (to aid with the interpretation of the sampling information).

Q: The reach as defined through air photo analysis is found in the field inventory to contain a significant falls. Do we break this into two individual reaches or do we record this as a feature of the original reach?

A: This depends on the characteristics of the reach and of the feature. This should be recorded as a feature of the reach (e.g. obstruction) if similar to smaller features common within the reach (e.g., a small falls in a series of bedrock cascades). This should be recorded as 2 reaches if the character of the reach is significantly different to upstream and downstream characteristics, and if the feature is large enough to be of significance.

Q: How many DNA samples are required?

A: This is specific to projects and species involved, and should be discussed with your Contract Monitor.

Q: Do old fish codes (NF, AF, SP, SA, etc.) still apply? If not how do we record a fish that could not be identified to a specific species?

A: Those general codes can still be used (especially for the habitat quality section of the Site Card). The reason they are not explicitly listed in the fish code tables is that fish need to be identified to the species level. We do not want people defaulting to a lot of the more general codes in most occasions. The general codes are used for species identification only when absolutely necessary.

Q: Do we record a summary of all fish events as well as individual information in the Fish Summary section of the same Fish Collection Form, or is this section only filled out if individual data section cannot be completed and for data collected from snorkel surveys (as is suggested by the Fish Collection Methods and Standards)?

A: The Fish Collection Methods and Standards was published before the Reconnaissance (1:20,000) Fish And Fish Habitat Inventory: Standards And Procedures was revised and hence the inconsistency. The summary section is to be filled in for all fish events, even if all individual fish information is recorded on the card.

Q: Can we summarize ALL of our fish data in the "fish summary" section on the Fish Collection Card?

A: Yes.


Q: Why is an Abney level recommended to measure stream gradient?

A: An Abney is a more accurate form of Clinometer. It is handheld, has a bubble level, and slightly more telescopic lens. It helps to reduce operator variability. The problem with Clinometers is that they are not overly accurate at low gradients (< four percent). Usually measurements are in the range of +/- two percent or greater. Given that we would like more accurate measurements than this at low gradients, and at ~20 percent (FPC break), we have asked that people use the Abney. Basically, the Clinometer is good for a rough measurement, especially in steep terrain, but we are working in lower gradient areas, and for a couple hundred dollars, we can hopefully get much more accurate data. For more information consult the Technical Information Notes for Reconnaissance (1:20,000) Fish and Fish habitat Inventory (Technical note # 5) through:

Q: How much does an Abney level cost?

A: hand held Abney level costs $175 and up. An Abney Style Telescopic Hand Level is recommended.

Site Cards

Q: What channel morphology should we use when filling out the Site Card for small swampy, low gradient (dominant substrate is fine) possibly ephemeral type streams. Do we just default to RPg_W, as it is the closest morphology type (but not very representative of the stream)?

A: The code that can be used is LC for Large Channel Morphology. For more information consult the Technical Information Notes for Reconnaissance (1:20000) Fish and Fish habitat Inventory (Technical note # 4)

Q: Regarding noting of "aquatic wildlife"... Does this include aquatic invertebrates or just amphibians, waterfowl, beaver as in previous contracts?

A: Invertebrates (coded as INV) are included in wildlife observations.

Q: Are we to assume that all site card photos do not get re-entered on the reach forms?

A: Yes. They should only be entered once, associated with the data form at the time they taken (i.e., if at the site, with the site card; if not at the site, with the reach form).

Q: On the site cards, several sections have more than one category that may be applicable. Can we fill in more than one? (As an example, the "Cover - riparian vegetation" may have two or three options that are true.)

A: Generally, most fields will only accept one category (basically, choose the dominant). Instream vegetation (A M V), disturbance indicators, and bars are the characteristics for which the data entry tool that will accept more than one option.

Q: Is there a code for uncorrected GPS (hand held recreational)?

A: GPU is the code for uncorrected GPS.

Q: When we do not know what species are found in a particular system what do we record in the habitat quality section of the site card?

A: Habitat quality section is always optional (you basically only fill it in where appropriate - i.e., if you have the expertise). If you are unsure of the species present, you might leave it blank. If you do think there is something important to note, and you are making assumptions as to species (based on extrapolation of other fish sampling information from other areas of the project), then make sure this noted.

Q: When portions of your field data (i.e., Site Card) are different from the information that you collected during the office Phases 1-3 (i.e., the Reach Data Form) do we need to update this information or can we just leave as is and input the new field data into FDIS?

A: Leave them as different. We need to check similarities and differences in order to extrapolate the field information to the airphoto/reach information.

Q: How do we deal with over-lapping cover types on Site Card (i.e., deep pool with LWD over top)?

A: Choose the most dominant type for your estimations.

Q: How do we handle disturbance indicators that are different on the Site Card than in the user notes? How to handle inconsistencies in bars in Site Cards and user notes (i.e., two letter codes in user notes vs. one letter on Site Card and T and L do not exist in the user notes)?

A: These inconsistencies have been rectified in the current version of the manual (i.e., May, 1997 (Errata to July 15, 1997 incorporated version) and the User notes. You can download this from the Web. For further description and clarification, refer to the CAP field guidebook.

Q: The habitat quality section of Site Card does not seem to be designed to deal with multiple species; if so, how?

A: Use the general species, or you can type multiple species codes. You can also use the "other" category of the Habitat Quality section for additional species. However, you should not complete the Habitat Quality section for every habitat type for most species; only when these are very important habitat types to note.

Q: Is it okay for field crews to record more than one type of cover as dominant when they are recording the various types of cover?

A: Crews should not be choosing more than one dominant cover type all the time. There is an option to record two dominants for certain cases, e.g., where there might be only two cover types, each representing about half the available cover.

Q: Is it okay for field crews to take measurements to two decimal points as FDIS allows or should they be rounding off to one decimal point? For example, should channel widths be recorded as 1.1 or 1.13?

A: It is fine if crews are taking measurements to a more precise level, however, just because there are more decimal places doesn't mean they are necessarily more accurate.

Q: Should all fisheries-sensitive zones be recorded in both the FSZ field (s) and the features table?

A: All FSZs should be noted in the FSZ field (to identify they do occur at the site). Any that you want to identify a more precise location for should be noted in the features table.