The purpose of this manual is to document the standard operating procedures of the USEPA, Region 4, Science and Ecosystem Support Division, Ecological Assessment Branch (EAB). The specific procedures/guidance defined in this manual are based on the experience of Branch personnel and/or are specifically referenced. This manual is not intended to be 'prescriptive' as to stifle professional judgment, but is intended to assure that acceptable field methods and quality assurance/quality control procedures are used when performing environmental investigations. This manual is a dynamic document which will be periodically reviewed and updated. It will serve as a training text for new employees as well as a reference text for current employees. When changes are made in the manual, a memorandum from the branch chief will be sent to each EAB employee with appropriate documentation of the changes. Each employee will be responsible for keeping his or her manual current. The standard operating procedures and quality assurance/quality control procedures in this manual will be incorporated by reference into the study plans issued by EAB personnel. Any deviation of these protocols, procedures or methods must be documented in the plan of study and approved by the employee's section chief. If deviation from this manual occurs as a result of unforseen field events, then justification for the deviations must be documented in the field note book(s).