Regional biodiversity monitoring: are schemes fit for purpose?
Speaker: Steve Buckland (CREEM)
ST Buckland, SR Baillie, JMcP Dick, DA Elston, AE Magurran, EM Scott, RI Smith, PJ Somerfield and A Watt
The 2010 Biodiversity Target of the Convention on Biological Diversity, set in 2002, is that there should be ‘a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss’ by 2010. We consider whether the approaches used to measure biodiversity trends are effective for assessing whether targets of this nature are achieved. We conclude that few monitoring programmes have sufficient elements of survey design to allow valid inference at a regional level, as distinct from quantifying trends at the sampled sites only. We also note the failure of most schemes to quantify detectability and how it varies by species, and discuss how this might lead to biased conclusions. We further conclude that precision is often not estimated or not adequately quantified. We also note that ‘gamma’ diversity is not dependent on the scale (size) of the sample plots, whereas the classical partitioning of this into ‘alpha’ and ‘beta’ diversity is scale-dependent, reducing their relevance and usefulness for regional monitoring. We consider the types of survey typically conducted, and identify which types are appropriate for different objectives. We present this in the form of a guide which might be used as an aid for the design of new surveys.