Ecological measurements are divers, and mostly not a goal, but a means. A means to produce a spreadsheet, display a map, analyse what happens to a species in time, analysis of the quality of a body of water, required reporting to the government, etc.
Chemical and physical measurements (such as wind speed, depth, temperature) are relatively easy: only time, location, unit and measured value are (mostly) recorded, with over time, only variation in time and measured value. Most of these measurements will be measured by some kind of automatic means.
Measurements on biological entities (taxa), however, can often not be recorded automatically. They may require some kind of sampling (such as taking a container of water, or use a fishing net), some kind of processing (such as an incubator or slicing device), some kind of catalyst (such as heat or die) and/or or some kind of measurement aid (such as a microscope).
For measurements to be valid (and for the verification thereof), all that data may have to be recorded, depending on the requirements. Information that may need to be recorded is:
- Sampling devices used (i.e. what net)
- Preparation devices used (i.e. dye added, incubators used)
- Measurement devices (i.e. microscope at x magnification)
- Circumstances of the organism found (i.e. life stage, gender, length class, living/dead, phototropic)
- Circumstances of the sampling area (i.e. construction site, cloudy water, rainy day)
The required data can change per measurement type. Furthermore, the data recorded can even differ per measurement.
Obviously, for measuring fish, you don’t need a microscope or an incubator, but you may need a net.
For micro organisms, you will most likely need a microscope, and depending on the type of micro organism, you may need some kind of dye.