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The primary modifications to the protocol described here would be to determine the degree of temporal and spatial replication necessary to support specific synoptic and case study objectives and to determine if both qualitative and semi-quantitative samplings are necessary. If the objective of the collection is to characterize the presence and absence of organisms in a sampling reach, then only the QMH methods are needed. If the objective is to characterize community structure, then semi-quantitative sampling in one or more appropriate habitat types is necessary. Case studies may require more intensive sampling than synoptic studies and may involve the use of different mesh sizes to meet specific objectives. Additional synoptic and case-study sampling approaches begin with the methods and procedures described here. They can be modified as needed, and the methods used should be carefully documented.


Field sampling carries with it a potential for personal injury from equipment operation and exposure to environmental hazards. Injuries resulting from the improper use of equipment can be minimized through training in the safe operation of samplers, cars, trucks, trailers, and boats. Injuries from environmental hazards can be minimized by wearing the appropriate safety equipment, handling chemicals safely, and recognizing and avoiding known hazards (for example, poisonous plants, snakes, and insects).

All vehicle operators must have valid drivers' licenses and have attended USGS-recommended driver-training courses. Boat operators must be properly trained in boat handling, safety, and "rules-of-the-road" through participation in USGS-approved U.S. Coast Guard training courses. In addition, boat operators must be familiar with the boats that they will operate and with all of the equipment, such as safety equipment, warning devices, winches, depth finders, and anchors. All boat occupants must have approved PFD's and use them in accordance with established USGS policy. Boats, trailers, outboard motors, and other vehicles must be maintained according to USGS guidelines.

The study-unit biologist is responsible for instructing other study-unit team members in the safe operation of field sampling gear. Many of the grab samplers recommended for use in the NAWQA Program (Ponar, Shipek, Van Veen, Ekman) have jaws, joints, projections, or sufficient mass that could inflict serious injuries upon untrained personnel. All such samplers must have safety catches in place when the sampler is not being used or is in storage. All personnel on the sampling team must be instructed on operation and safe handling and storage of each sampler. Many of the larger samplers require the use of a hand or power winch. Personnel must be instructed in the maintenance and safe operation of these devices. A rope or cable cutter must be immediately accessible during the operation of any winches. This cutter must be capable of cutting the sampler loose quickly if it becomes entangled and threatens the safety of the sampling boat and its occupants.

Proper safety equipment must be worn when personnel are in the field. Waders and shoulder-length gloves are worn when there is any risk that sharp, submerged objects, water-borne diseases, or toxic substances may be encountered, such as when working