Why most conservation monitoring is, but need not be, a waste of time
Ecological conservation monitoring programmes abound at various organisational and spatial levels from species to ecosystem. Many of them suffer, however, from the lack of details of goal and hypothesis formulation, survey design, data quality and statistical power at the start. As a result, most programmes are likely to fail to reach the necessary standard of being capable of rejecting a false null hypothesis with reasonable power. Results from inadequate monitoring are misleading for their information quality and are dangerous because they create the illusion that something useful has been done. We propose that conservation agencies and those funding monitoring work should require the demonstration of adequate power at the outset of any new monitoring scheme.