Quality Control Procedure for Sample-Based Taxonomic Data

The Society for Freshwater Science’s Taxonomic Certification Committee (TCC) considers successful completion of certification tests to be an objective reflection of the capability of an individual to perform accurate and precise taxonomic identifications consistently within the taxa groups for which they are certified. The committee also understands that valid certification does not guarantee that a holder will consistently produce high quality taxonomic data, and as such, that routine and rigorous quality control (QC) oversight is very important and necessary (Stribling et al. 2012).

Key to this sample-based QC process is determining error types and sources, specifying and implementing corrective actions, and, if necessary, confirming implementation. A critical aspect of any QC activity is that it should not be viewed as a special study, but rather, as a fully-integrated, routine component of the monitoring program. This vision should be shared by staff, coordinators, and all levels of management associated with the programmatic area.

The procedure outlined in the document below is based on that used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Aquatic Resources Surveys (NARS), specifically, the Wadeable Streams Assessment (WSA [USEPA 2004, Stribling et al. 2008]), the National Rivers and Streams Assessment (NRSA [USEPA 2008]), and the National Lakes Assessment (NLA [USEPA 2012]).

This procedure addresses one data quality issue critical to biological assessments, and thus, should be recognized and used as part of a more comprehensive QC program. Coverage of those factors is beyond the immediate scope of this technique.

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