Marmot Monitoring 2010 Results


Program Overview and Results of 2010 Field Season
Summer 2010 saw the kick-off of the Olympic marmot monitoring program. Over 80 volunteers in 35 different groups traversed survey units in high-elevation meadows and rock-fields, looking for marmots and marmot burrows.

Although unusually heavy snow cover limited access to many areas in July and early August, volunteers successfully surveyed more than 260 units and partially or visually surveyed another 42. Of the units that were thoroughly surveyed, 124 were classified as occupied (either saw marmots or fresh marmot sign) , 71 as abandoned (saw signs of past but not recent marmot use), and 65 as without sign of marmots. In addition, 7 were classified as abandoned and 35 as without sign of marmots following a visual or incomplete foot survey.

It is important to remember that the survey units were selected to include a high proportion of habitat patches that we thought contained marmots – so these numbers do not reflect the distribution of occupied marmot habitat park-wide.

The great value of this data, however, is that it is the foundation against which we will track changes in the percentage and distribution of units occupied by marmots over time.

Map of Olympic National Park with marmot survey area results
Shown is the final assigned status of each survey unit in 2010. In the case where a unit was surveyed more than once, the final status was designated “occupied" if the unit was determined to be occupied on any visit, “abandoned” if only unoccupied burrows were found on any visit, and “no sign”  if no sign of present or past marmots was found on any visit. Occupancy status is also shown for units where status was determined during the course of activities outside the volunteer surveys. Units that were not visited are also shown.

Volunteer Success
Many units were surveyed twice. These repeat visits allowed park staff to estimate that volunteers detected marmots nearly 90 percent of the time that the animals were present, given that all surveys were complete and conducted in August.

Designations of "occupied", "abandoned", and "no marmot sign" from the 2010 survey are also consistent with results from a survey conducted in 2002-2006 by professional wildlife technicians, providing further evidence that citizen scientists can do a great job surveying for marmots!


Changes for 2011
All aspects of the program went off without any major glitches in 2010, but there was plenty of room for improvement. The volunteers made excellent suggestions, many of which we have adopted. Major changes for 2011 include:

The recruitment information more completely details necessary skills and experience.

The application process has been streamlined.

Surveys will be restricted to August to reduce problems associated with late snow-cover.

Survey units have been modified to better conform to marmot habitat. Units that were extremely difficult to access have been removed.

New software will allow survey units to be displayed as part of the background maps on GPS units.

GPS training will be improved and reference material made available before training.

Every volunteer will be given a GPS unit.

Last updated: February 25, 2019

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