Principles of wild counting

13 simple rules to follow to make sure that your nature watching is counting the wild.

written Jan 8, 2018 (last updated Sep 5, 2021) • by Jon Sullivan • Category: Why count

Here are 13 principles of wild counting. They ensure that your wild counting is unbiased and useful for revealing patterns and trends in nature.

If you’re not sure what one means, or are not sure why it’s important, each is elaborated on in more detail later.

1 Don't wait for someone else to count your wild.
2 It's OK to only count what’s simple to count, and what you’re interested in.
3 Always record What-Why-Where-When-How-Who.
4 Always decide what you’ll count, how you’ll count, and when you'll stop counting, before you start counting.
5 Repeatedly and frequently recount the same sites.
6 Record all counting, even when and where you searched but found nothing.
7 Use simple, consistent counting methods, and try to use counting methods that others use.
8 Never guess and never interpret; record exactly what you see or hear, including your uncertainty when you're not sure.
9 Enjoy it (sustain your counting long-term).
10 Intermittently take photos and audio recordings of some of your counts. This confirms how good you are at identifications, and can be useful in other ways.
11 You don’t need to photograph and audio record all your counts. Once you’ve demonstrated that you can reliably identify a species, focus on counting.
12 Cause no harm to the wild when you’re counting.
13 Share your counts, using standard data formats.

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