Previous | Next | How to reach the 2010-and beyond- target: research influencing policy
Topic: 2010 indicators for overall biodiversity
Conf: How to reach the 2010-and beyond- target: research influencing policy, Msg: 8464
From: Dan Faith (
Date: 11/10/2006 02:00 AM

2010 indicators for overall biodiversity Dan Faith efn2010 Jorge Soberon made a very useful, important point - that a major asset to report losses of biodiversity can be found in the GBIF databases. His posting also suggested to me an interesting contrast with other postings on the same day. These highlighted the vast amount of still-unknown biodiversity, and the implied need to somehow take this “overall biodiversity” into account in addressing 2010.

This raises research issues – and points to the even greater potential importance of GBIF data to address the 2010 target.

First, note some limitations of the basic process outlined by Jorge Soberon. This process would accumulate many distribution models of individual species for a given region, and calculate total losses for corresponding losses of intact land. This is a useful process, but will not help as much as we would like in estimating losses in overall biodiversity. Based on accumulated individual models the change in total would be highly dependent on the biases in sampling of taxa – e.g. the answer might change a lot if we double the number of available butterflies and neglect to model the plants (of course, the extent of bias in particular cases is hard to quantify and more research is needed on utility of taxonomic surrogates).

In contrast, we use GBIF and similar data in a way that attempts to address overall biodiversity (Ferrier et al, 2004; Faith et al 2004; see my earlier “systematic conservation planning” posting which described a process which “addresses ‘overall biodiversity’ through effective use of biotic (e.g. museum collections) and environmental data to form a best-possible surrogates ‘calculus’”. GBIF and similar data, when combined in this way with extensive environmental data, has the potential to provide the measures of overall biodiversity required for assessments against the 2010 target. Research is needed to explore these emerging links from GBIF data to useful estimates of changes in overall biodiversity - but initial estimation of overall biodiversity patterns/changes also can begin now,using available GBIF and environmental data.

An additional advantage provided by a calculus of overall biodiversity is that it allows, not just monitoring, but also the information needed for strategic planning and implementation of a whole range of integrated conservation strategies. In this way, we may be able to not only produce a biodiversity “report card”, but also ensure that the card ultimately reports success, not failure, in addressing the 2010 biodiversity target.

Dan Faith
The Australian Museum

Ferrier, S., et al. (2004) Mapping more of terrestrial biodiversity for global conservation
assessment: a new approach to integrating disparate sources of biological and environmental data. Bioscience 54, 1101–1109.
Faith, D. P., Ferrier, S. and Walker, P. A. (2004) The ED strategy: how species-level surrogates indicate general biodiversity patterns through an "environmental diversity" perspective. Journal of Biogeography 31, 1207-1217.

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