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Ecological Monitoring

  1. Nigel Gilles Yoccoz

Published Online: 15 MAY 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0023571



How to Cite

Yoccoz, N. G. 2012. Ecological Monitoring. eLS. .

Author Information

  1. University of Tromsø, Tromsø, Norway

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 MAY 2012


Ecological monitoring aims at inferring causes of ecosystem changes, by measuring ecosystem state variables in space and time. This is required for management, when different actions are possible and their consequences need to be assessed and compared, and for science, which aims at establishing the causes of observed patterns. The success of an ecological monitoring programme will heavily depend on having well-articulated questions and objectives, formulated using a simple conceptual model. Future challenges lie in integrating monitoring programmes through questions and models that include both global and local scales, and adding the human dimension in order to achieve social-ecological monitoring.

Key Concepts:

  • Many ecological monitoring programmes have been inefficient and passive.

  • Ecological monitoring should start with simple model(s) and questions.

  • The model(s) and questions should be frequently confronted with data, and changed if necessary.

  • Developments in statistics and other fields are crucial for accurate estimation of state variables.

  • Long-term ecological research (LTER) sites are examples of successful monitoring, with major results.

  • More work is needed to integrate monitoring programmes in order to achieve local and global objectives.

  • Social and economic aspects, such as ecosystem services, need to be added to monitoring programmes.


  • ecosystem model;
  • state variables;
  • sampling;
  • resilience;
  • LTER;
  • social-ecological system