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The lack of a standardized methodology creates at least two significant problems. The first problem is that the lack of guidance on robust monitoring protocols and survey design leads to the collection of information that cannot fulfill the objectives for which it was collected. For example, if surveys to support an environmental assessment are not designed in a rigorous manner, they may fail to detect sensitive species or ecosystems that may require special mitigation. The second problem is that the lack of a consistent methodology across sites prevents the direct comparison of biodiversity information from different sites, and therefore hinders or prevents an understanding of the patterns of biodiversity at larger spatial scales. For example, if the abundance of bird species is monitored differently at different protected areas, it may not be possible to combine the information to say which protected area has populations with the highest viability, and is therefore most important in protecting the species.

Our hope is that this manual will provide a standardized methodology for biodiversity monitoring, and as a result, help to improve the quality and consistency of work done at individual sites, as well as the ability to compare biodiversity at different sites. In this way, it will enhance the understanding biodiversity in Panama and improve the scientific basis for its management.