Pest Fauna Monitoring Protocols

Standardising pest fauna monitoring protocols for improved data collection and decision making.

TERN is working with the Australian Government to co-design a suite of ecological monitoring protocols alongside a data exchange standard.

The standardised protocols will assist land managers, ecologists, and environmental consultants to collect consistent and comparable monitoring data on the distribution, density, and impact of Australia’s key medium-large pest fauna species.

Standardised data collection complemented by FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable) data sharing will help create transparent and streamlined ecological monitoring data that are compatible across Natural Resource Management projects, regions and jurisdictions, enabling robust decision making about pest fauna.

1. Improve consistency in data recording to ensure data generated from NRM investments are compatible across individual projects, regions and jurisdictions.

2. Strengthen the evidence base for assessing and quantifying the impact of feral pest control on a range of NRM outcomes.

3. Support better access to, and re-use of, vertebrate pest survey data for a variety of purposes, including adaptive management, research and policy making.

4. Identify current best practice monitoring protocols and data collection tools for target vertebrate pest species.

5. Communicate effectively to facilitate engagement with all stakeholder groups.

6. Develop tools (app) and systems for effective data management.

The Pest Fauna Monitoring Project will produce

1. A set of standardised vertebrate pest monitoring protocols for Australia, informed by experts in the field, will be available through TERNs national ecosystem research infrastructure.

2. Accurate and efficient data collection and dissemination for Australia’s vertebrate pests will be enabled by tools, specifically an app and data systems.


To standardise ecological field survey and monitoring data collected for seven vertebrate pest species in Australia: feral cats, foxes, wild dogs, pigs, goats, rabbits, and deer. To collate existing monitoring methods for wild horses and camels.


Links to other projects

In parallel with the development of standard pest fauna and ecosystem survey data collection protocols, the Australian Government is working with TERN to develop a standardised data exchange standard to support better access to, and reuse of, data from environmental monitoring and surveillance projects. The Australian Government is implementing a nationally federated repository to store and share environmental data for use by proponents, regulators and the community.

Overall, the entire process from designing monitoring projects, conducting the monitoring, managing and accessing the data, and analysing the effectiveness of NRM outcomes/impact assessments, will be more streamlined, consistent, automated and robust.

The Pest Fauna Monitoring Project leverages TERN’s core work of the Ecosystem Surveillance platform, and the Ecological Protocols Project. 


Frequently asked questions

For now, the project is focused on feral cats, foxes, wild dogs, pigs, rabbits, goats, and deer (multiple deer species). For these species, we will be conducting a review of existing monitoring methods commonly used by practitioners already, assessing their suitability for Natural Resource Management (NRM) projects, and developing monitoring protocols with an associated data entry app. The project has a minor component identifying the existing monitoring methods used for camels and wild horses as a first step, but no protocols are expected for these species just yet.

TERN protocols are written as step-by-step instructional guides, providing the surveyor with all the information required to implement the protocols to the specified standard. The instructions and guidelines provided, together with the field collection app, mean that the data is not open to interpretation by the surveyor. TERN protocols are considered fully repeatable, meaning any semi-experienced ecologist or land manager should be able to pick-up the manual and the app, and conduct the survey according to the protocols with no error.

No, the project is only focusing on developing ecological monitoring protocols to collate data on presence, absence, abundance, and the environmental disturbances the vertebrate pest species are causing. The protocols are likely to incorporate protocols for monitoring habitat damage, and recovery as an outcome of managing the pest species, but not the actual control and management strategies.

The first stage of the project is to kick-off awareness raising and identify opportunities for RLP providers, land managers, and ecologists to be involved in the project. In 2022 we will run workshops to engage interested people, and aim to identify the best-practice monitoring protocols currently used, and start assessing their suitability for RLP projects. From there, we will start developing the protocols and conduct field trials in different environments targeting the different vertebrate pest species. There will be more opportunities for stakeholder involvement, with draft protocols presented at a workshop. Once the approaches, and techniques have been settled on, we will develop the associated field data collection app, and conduct more field trials. In 2023, once everything is prepared, tested, and running smoothly, NRM practitioners will be trained on how to implement the protocols, and training materials (including instructional videos) will be developed and made available to practitioners.

NRM regional representatives will be kept informed on the projects progress via the National Landcare Program newsletters.

TERN will work with the Australian vertebrate pest management community and the NRM management community to ensure the protocols are best practice. Please register your interest via the ‘contact us’ form below if you would like to participate in an online stakeholder workshop, training and/or provide feedback on training, use of the app, identification and scoping of future protocol modules.

The protocols, and associated data collection app, will be ready to use in the second half of 2023.

Yes, the protocols are being written to be adaptable to all environments and vegetation communities covered by the 54 National Landcare Program Management Units across Australia. Whilst being standardised, the protocols will allow some flexibility to cater for special environments, for example rocky escarpments where survey transects or camera trap arrays may need some alterations to allow safe and effective installation.

This website will be updated as the project develops.  To be kept updated, please complete the ‘contact us’ form below.

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