Article
To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the authors.

Abstract

African countries need to conserve biodiversity and use natural resources rationally if they are to avoid continued environmental degradation that jeopardizes sustainable development and human wellbeing. However, many government agencies cannot access or use the biodiversity data they need to make informed decisions for environmental and economic management. More than forty stakeholders representing governments, civil society organizations (CSOs) and UN agencies, including delegates from 20 African states, identified decisions that require biodiversity information and explored blockages and potential solutions to data access and use. The participants concluded that the key enabling environment includes data availability, data quality and usability, willingness to collect and use data, and financial and technical capacity. We recommend that African government departments across sectors work with academic bodies and CSOs to: i) enhance internal resources for monitoring and develop partnerships with donors; ii) build capacity for data collection, using tools, guidelines and communities surrounding CBD planning and biodiversity monitoring; iii) improve national and international co-ordination and cross-sectoral collaboration for biodiversity data management; iv) produce and use more data-derived products that encourage data use, especially assessments that demonstrate the importance of biodiversity to economies and wellbeing and dashboards that facilitate interpretation and analysis. Governments, CSOs and academic bodies should test different science-policy interfaces in a handful of pilot countries or regions, building on existing models to demonstrate how data providers and users can work together to break down barriers to data access and sharing and mainstream biodiversity information into decision-making.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the authors.

... However, although monitoring is standard best practice in project management, often it is not conducted thoroughly [7]. As a result, biodiversity data are scattered, fragmented, a challenge to assemble, and rarely available to decision makers [8][9][10]. ...
... Blockages to biodiversity monitoring include lack of access to existing data sets [9], exacerbated by many organisations acting independently to develop their own databases and data platforms [11]. In high-biodiversity countries, such as in tropical Africa, limited capacity and expertise for data sharing and use are often compounded by more limited resources to pay for raw images and data processing, as well as limited internet capacity [9,12,13]. ...
... Blockages to biodiversity monitoring include lack of access to existing data sets [9], exacerbated by many organisations acting independently to develop their own databases and data platforms [11]. In high-biodiversity countries, such as in tropical Africa, limited capacity and expertise for data sharing and use are often compounded by more limited resources to pay for raw images and data processing, as well as limited internet capacity [9,12,13]. Many of the assessments of African biodiversity data have been led and conducted by scientists who are predominantly based outside the region [14,15], reflecting more systemic issues with capacity for research and monitoring [16][17][18]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Many conservation managers, policy makers, businesses and local communities cannot access the biodiversity data they need for informed decision-making on natural resource management. A handful of databases are used to monitor indicators against global biodiversity goals but there is no openly available consolidated list of global data sets to help managers, especially those in high-biodiversity countries. We therefore conducted an inventory of global databases of potential use in monitoring biodiversity states, pressures and conservation responses at multiple levels. We uncovered 145 global data sources, as well as a selection of global data reports, links to which we will make available on an open-access website. We describe trends in data availability and actions needed to improve data sharing. If the conservation and science community made a greater effort to publicise data sources, and make the data openly and freely available for the people who most need it, we might be able to mainstream biodiversity data into decision-making and help stop biodiversity loss.
... Nowadays, biomonitoring projects are conducted by academic, government, and regulatory institutions, as well as NGOs and corporations, and have varying degrees of civil society involvement. There is a growing recognition that the equitable participation of different stakeholders, data providers and users, including local communities, is central to adaptive management and leads to better results, buy-in, and sustainability (Jacobson et Stephenson et al. 2017a;Chap. 15;Klütsch and Ferreira 2021). ...
... A number of major challenges to effective biodiversity conservation, monitoring, and evaluation remain that prevent the full and effective use of biodiversity data in decision-and policy-making processes and widen the knowledge-implementation gap (reviewed in Jones 2013). These include financial constraints (Birkhead 2014(Birkhead , 2018, and lack of technical capacity and tools for collecting, analysing, and interpreting data (Navarro et al. 2017;Addison et al. 2020;Bhatt et al. 2020;Hochkirch et al. 2020;Stephenson 2020;Stephenson et al. 2017aStephenson et al. , 2020. Institutional, policy, and legal barriers may also be important challenges to biomonitoring (Collen et al. 2013;Xu et al. 2021). ...
... Where data accessibility is not a barrier, data are frequently scattered, fragmented, of poor quality, and rarely available in the right format at the right time (Nesshöver et al. 2016;Kissling et al. 2018;Stephenson et al. 2017a,b; Stephenson and Stengel 2020). Variability in the spatial and temporal resolution of data, a lack of willingness to share information, and the failure to link risks and dependencies to actions also plague governments and businesses (Walls et al. 2012;Whiteman et al. 2013;Stephenson et al. 2017a). Consequently, many stakeholders, from governments to businesses to conservation NGOs, struggle to identify appropriate indicators for monitoring biodiversity, sources of existing data they can use in their own planning and reports Bubb 2013;Stephenson et al. 2015;Bhatt et al. 2020;Han et al. 2020; Stephenson and Carbone 2021; see also Chap. ...
Book
Complete summary of the scientific knowledge currently available on closing of the knowledge-implementation gap in both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Describes interdisciplinary and innovative uses of knowledge sources and knowledge mobilization practices to halt biodiversity loss under human-driven global environmental change. Essential reading for graduate students, researchers, practitioners, and policy-makers working across sectors with biodiversity knowledge and natural resource management around the world. Available here: https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-3-030-81085-6
... An understanding of the status and abundance of species, their habitats, the threats and pressures they face, and the progress of work undertaken for their conservation is essential for effective project management and decision-making (Robinson et al. 2018;Hu et al. 2019;Stephenson and Stengel 2020). However, for a variety of reasons, species monitoring is largely inadequate and often neglected, meaning the necessary data are unavailable to decision makers (Amano et al. 2016;Stephenson et al. 2017aStephenson et al. , 2022. Moreover, scientific knowledge of species is constrained by the taxonomic and spatial biases of the available data (Amano et al. 2016;Troudet et al. 2017;dos Santos et al. 2020). ...
... Geographic biases mean the tropical regions housing the most biodiversity and the most threatened species are the least studied (Pimm et al. 2006;Amano and Sutherland 2013;Titley et al. 2017). Reasons for this inequality are diverse and poorly understood (Stephenson et al. 2017aStephenson 2019;Hochkirch et al. 2021) but may be a key factor in the low use of data in national biodiversity reports (Bubb et al. 2011). ...
... The data needed most are related to species abundance and the extent and quality of habitat (Fig. 6), which are common measures of biodiversity state. The three main challenges identified for data access and use revolved around inadequate resources, tools and capacity, issues raised in other studies (Amano and Sutherland 2013;Thapa et al. 2014;Tittensor et al. 2014;Stephenson et al. 2017aStephenson et al. , 2021Rounsevell et al. 2020). ...
Article
Full-text available
Understanding the status and abundance of species is essential for effective conservation decision-making. However, the availability of species data varies across space, taxonomic groups and data types. A case study was therefore conducted in a high biodiversity region—East Africa—to evaluate data biases, the factors influencing data availability, and the consequences for conservation. In each of the eleven target countries, priority animal species were identified as threatened species that are protected by national governments, international conventions or conservation NGOs. We assessed data gaps and biases in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility and the Living Planet Index. A survey of practitioners and decision makers was conducted to confirm and assess consequences of these biases on biodiversity conservation efforts. Our results showed data on species occurrence and population trends were available for a significantly higher proportion of vertebrates than invertebrates. We observed a geographical bias, with higher tourism income countries having more priority species and more species with data than lower tourism income countries. Conservationists surveyed felt that, of the 40 types of data investigated, those data that are most important to conservation projects are the most difficult to access. The main challenges to data accessibility are excessive expense, technological challenges, and a lack of resources to process and analyse data. With this information, practitioners and decision makers can prioritise how and where to fill gaps to improve data availability and use, and ensure biodiversity monitoring is improved and conservation impacts enhanced.
... Effective conservation and management of wetlands biodiversity require data on species status and threats to inform decision-making and adaptive management. However, there are key challenges in Africa around the availability, usability and quality of biodiversity data, willingness to use data, and capacity (Stephenson et al., 2017a). As a result, many decision makers do not have access to the data they need. ...
... For example, numerous government decisions relating to wetlands management require biodiversity data, from the development of environmental resource policies and legislation to national and landscape level planning and budgeting for resource management across sectors to the control and licensing of resource use. Biodiversity data are also required for reporting on delivery of multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) such as the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Ramsar Convention, the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) (Stephenson et al., 2017a). The need for biodiversity data for assessing water-related ecosystem services and for decision-making and policy development has also been highlighted (e.g., Russi et al., 2013;Camacho-Valdez et al., 2014). ...
... Data-derived products such as maps and dashboards can simplify information and make it easier for decision makers to analyze and interpret, ultimately facilitating data use for adaptive management (Han et al., 2014;Stephenson et al., 2015a;Nel et al., 2016). "The focus should be on ensuring simplicity and on open access to underlying data and methodologies to encourage transparency and easy replication" (Stephenson et al., 2017a). Data should also be fed into relevant management systems and discussed regularly to facilitate action and lesson learning. ...
... Effective conservation and management of wetlands biodiversity require data on species status and threats to inform decision-making and adaptive management. However, there are key challenges in Africa around the availability, usability and quality of biodiversity data, willingness to use data, and capacity (Stephenson et al., 2017a). As a result, many decision makers do not have access to the data they need. ...
... For example, numerous government decisions relating to wetlands management require biodiversity data, from the development of environmental resource policies and legislation to national and landscape level planning and budgeting for resource management across sectors to the control and licensing of resource use. Biodiversity data are also required for reporting on delivery of multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) such as the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Ramsar Convention, the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) (Stephenson et al., 2017a). The need for biodiversity data for assessing water-related ecosystem services and for decision-making and policy development has also been highlighted (e.g., Russi et al., 2013;Camacho-Valdez et al., 2014). ...
... Data-derived products such as maps and dashboards can simplify information and make it easier for decision makers to analyze and interpret, ultimately facilitating data use for adaptive management (Han et al., 2014;Stephenson et al., 2015a;Nel et al., 2016). "The focus should be on ensuring simplicity and on open access to underlying data and methodologies to encourage transparency and easy replication" (Stephenson et al., 2017a). Data should also be fed into relevant management systems and discussed regularly to facilitate action and lesson learning. ...
Article
Full-text available
Biodiversity is being lost in wetlands at a faster rate than any other biome. Effective conservation and management of wetlands biodiversity requires data on species status and threats to inform decision-making. However, there are key challenges in Africa around the availability, usability and quality of data, willingness to use data, and capacity. We review these challenges, using examples from Ramsar sites and other wetlands across the continent, and propose solutions to help information users access high quality data in the right format at the right time. We assess the relevance of traditional monitoring methods, as well as innovative new tools such as remote sensing and environmental DNA. We conclude by explaining how governments, civil society and the private sector can enhance data collection by applying common, policy-relevant indicators, scaling up the application of traditional and appropriate new tools and protocols, building capacity in key institutions, and using partnerships and credible science-policy interfaces. Only by sharing and upscaling the solutions to data collection and use will we be able to mainstream biodiversity into decision-making and ultimately stop biodiversity loss across African wetlands.
... Evidence-based decision-making in natural resource management and conservation requires robust data on the status of biodiversity and the threats it faces [1]. However, in many high-biodiversity countries the key enabling conditions for monitoring biodiversity -data availability, data quality and usability, willingness to collect and use data, and financial and technical capacity -are not adequately met [2] and data are lacking [3,4]. Advances in technology offer opportunities for enhanced data collection, with satellite-based remote sensing increasingly complemented by Earth-based sensors such as camera traps [5 ], cameras on drones [6 ] and acoustic recording devices [7 ], as well as by environmental DNA monitoring [8 ]. ...
... Whatever monitoring methods are used, biodiversity data are often of inadequate quality, not delivered in a timely manner and not presented in ways conducive to easy interpretation [2]. Common issues that reduce the quality and usability of data across technological tools are the short-term nature and design of monitoring systems. ...
... People are less likely to be willing to use biodiversity data when the data are difficult to interpret, so data providers and data users need to 'collaborate on producing data and data-derived products in formats that meet decision makers' needs' [2]. If technological tools are used, these should be appropriate for user needs and capacity, measure identified indicators in monitoring plans, and produce data that can be presented in formats, such as dashboards or maps, that facilitate interpretation [1,27 ]. ...
Article
Evidence-based decision-making in natural resource management and conservation is often constrained by lack of robust biodiversity data. Technology offers opportunities for enhanced data collection through a range of satellite-based and Earth-based sensors and techniques. This paper reviews lessons learned from the application of four key technological monitoring solutions (satellite-based remote sensing, cameras, acoustic recording devices and environmental DNA) to identify factors affecting their relevance and applicability. Most tools, if relevant to local user needs and integrated into goal-based monitoring schemes, can contribute to creating the enabling conditions necessary for effective biodiversity monitoring, improving data availability and quality for various taxa when compared with traditional observer-based methods. However, until the tools become cheap enough and easy enough for widespread use (especially in biodiversity-rich countries), and until they can be more inclusive in their taxonomic coverage, technological solutions will still need to be complemented with traditional observer-based methods for the foreseeable future.
... Building on a recent assessment (Stephenson et al. 2017a), we acknowledge a diversity of government decisions requiring biodiversity information in Africa across ministries such as: ...
... Even though many stakeholders require information for decision-making, numerous challenges block access to, and use of, biodiversity data, including gaps or other inadequacies in indicators, data sets and capacity (e.g., Secades et al. 2014;Stephenson et al. 2015aStephenson et al. , 2017b. Barriers to using biodiversity information in decision-making in Africa can be clustered into four main categories (sensu Stephenson et al. 2017a). ...
... Across Africa, existing data are housed in a range of different institutions and government departments. These data are often not shared because of political tensions and poor institutional connections, the poor links between science and biodiversity policies, and the limited interaction between the data gatherers (such as academic institutions and NGOs) and the data users within ministries (Stephenson et al. 2017a). Therefore, national and global data sets are often inadequate or not accessible to decision makers. ...
Chapter
Data often inform protected area creation but are rarely used in monitoring established protected areas.
... Nowadays, biomonitoring projects are conducted by academic, government, and regulatory institutions, as well as NGOs and corporations, and have varying degrees of civil society involvement. There is a growing recognition that the equitable participation of different stakeholders, data providers and users, including local communities, is central to adaptive management and leads to better results, buy-in, and sustainability (Jacobson et al. 2009;Danielsen et al. 2014;Stephenson et al. 2017a;Chap. 15;Klütsch and Ferreira 2021). ...
... A number of major challenges to effective biodiversity conservation, monitoring, and evaluation remain that prevent the full and effective use of biodiversity data in decision-and policy-making processes and widen the knowledge-implementation gap (reviewed in Jones 2013). These include financial constraints (Birkhead 2014(Birkhead , 2018, and lack of technical capacity and tools for collecting, analysing, and interpreting data (Navarro et al. 2017;Addison et al. 2020;Bhatt et al. 2020;Hochkirch et al. 2020;Stephenson 2020;Stephenson et al. 2017a. Institutional, policy, and legal barriers may also be important challenges to biomonitoring (Collen et al. 2013;Xu et al. 2021). ...
... Where data accessibility is not a barrier, data are frequently scattered, fragmented, of poor quality, and rarely available in the right format at the right time (Nesshöver et al. 2016;Kissling et al. 2018;Stephenson et al. 2017a,b; Stephenson and Stengel 2020). Variability in the spatial and temporal resolution of data, a lack of willingness to share information, and the failure to link risks and dependencies to actions also plague governments and businesses (Walls et al. 2012;Whiteman et al. 2013;Stephenson et al. 2017a). Consequently, many stakeholders, from governments to businesses to conservation NGOs, struggle to identify appropriate indicators for monitoring biodiversity, sources of existing data they can use in their own planning and reports (Walpole et al. 2009 Stephenson et al. 2020; Stephenson and Stengel 2020). ...
Chapter
Sustained monitoring of biological diversity is central to conservation biology as a discipline, allowing the evaluation of species and ecosystem conservation status, biological responses to environmental and policy changes, and conservation action. In this chapter, we look at the knowledge–implementation gap through the lens of biodiversity monitoring (hereafter, biomonitoring) to highlight the role of scientific inquiry as a stream of knowledge production in biodiversity conservation and the ways it can influence the width of the gap. Biomonitoring provides the perfect platform to discuss this. The knowledge it produces fundamentally underpins and informs all aspects of biodiversity conservation. Moreover, as a field of research, it is highly permeable to concurrently employ other sources of ecological knowledge, technological innovation, interdisciplinarity, and collaborative approaches. This means that the scientists leading these efforts likely embody the traits and skills most needed to successfully navigate and close the gap in the future, as scientists will continue to be major knowledge producers in this field. We outline the main features of traditional biomonitoring, with an emphasis on some of the challenges faced by the scientific community that may contribute to widening the knowledge–implementation gap in the discipline, as well as successful expert-driven initiatives that provide a good template to resolve said challenges.
... Ultimately, conservation can be deemed a success only if biodiversity is in a better state than before the intervention, or if threats and pressures have been reduced. There is a growing movement to improve results-based management of conservation projects to ensure informed decisions are made based on evidence derived from data analysis and evaluation (Dicks et al., 2014;Stephenson et al., 2017a). Project managers and other stakeholders (e.g. ...
... However, measuring conservation impacts and outcomes remains elusive. Many governments struggle to provide data for reporting their delivery of global biodiversity goals (Bubb, 2013;Stephenson et al, 2017a), reflecting broader gaps and biases in data availability worldwide (Tittensor et al., 2014;Stephenson et al., 2017b). Conservation project monitoring is often inadequate due https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pecon.2019.11.003 2530-0644/© 2019 Associação Brasileira de Ciência Ecológica e Conservação. ...
... This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/). to weak plans and indicators, short-lived monitoring schemes and a general lack of capacity and appropriate budgeting for data collection and use at relevant scales (Stephenson et al., 2017a(Stephenson et al., , 2017b. It is also rare for projects to assess counterfactuals against which to compare results and to estimate what conditions would have been like in the absence of conservation action (Ferraro and Pressey, 2015;Hoffmann et al., 2015;Adams et al., 2019). ...
Article
Full-text available
Many biodiversity conservation projects struggle to demonstrate the impact of their actions. Existing project management guidelines inadequately address the issue of planning projects in a project portfolio (a programme) and how to aggregate data across portfolios, so monitoring systems are often weak. Based on a literature review and personal experience, I define Five Steps to Conservation Impact: 1. Planning — develop a shared vision and measurable goals and objectives (with project goals and objectives linked to higher-level programme goals and objectives); 2. Common indicators — identify indicators common to projects and the programmes they contribute towards to allow aggregation of results; 3. Monitoring — collect data to measure indicators (wherever possible using harmonised monitoring protocols to enhance data sharing); 4. Interpretation — present data in a format of use to programme managers and other decision makers (presenting trends in ways that demonstrate outliers, through maps and dashboards); 5. Action — use data to evaluate progress and make adaptive management decisions. These steps differ from other project management guidelines by linking common goals with common indicators and measuring aggregated conservation impact. Enabling conditions for success include: senior managers are willing to establish a results-based management culture; attribution is considered an aspiration not a hindrance; capacity and tools are in place. If organisations design projects with goals, objectives and indicators that are shared across the portfolio, and counterfactuals are identified wherever possible, then monitoring impact is feasible. Making impact monitoring the norm, however, will require a culture change within the conservation community.
... Blockages to data access are numerous, and can relate to a lack of data, inadequate monitoring and data collection, inadequate sharing of existing data, and the sharing of data that are of poor quality or in the wrong formats [4][5][6][7]. Lack of high quality, standardised data blocks our ability to compare trends over time and space. Existing data on species and their habitats have taxonomic and geographic biases, with more data on certain vertebrates and trees and less data on other plants, invertebrates and fungi, more data in wealthy nations and less in poorer high-biodiversity nations, and generally less data for marine and aquatic species [8][9][10][11][12]. ...
... Numerous different types of data are required to provide the information needed for the effective conservation and management of biodiversity and natural resources [7,25]. The main data categories are: A diverse array of stakeholders need biodiversity data for a diverse array of reasons [6,7,32,33,37]. In the public sector, governments (national and subnational structures in a diversity of ministries and departments) need data for the development, implementation, and monitoring of environmental resource policies and legislation, and for planning and budgeting (including landscape and seascape planning) for resource management across sectors (e.g., protected areas, forestry, fisheries, agriculture, infrastructure, mining, water management). Governments need data to guide planning and to report on progress towards their global MEA commitments, such as the CBD, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), the Ramsar Convention, the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), as well as the environment-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). ...
... Blockages to biodiversity monitoring include a lack of access to existing data sets [6,7], exacerbated by many organisations acting independently to develop their own databases and data platforms [132]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Many stakeholders, from governments to civil society to businesses, lack the data they need to make informed decisions on biodiversity, jeopardising efforts to conserve, restore and sustainably manage nature. Here we review the importance of enhancing biodiversity monitoring, assess the challenges involved and identify potential solutions. Capacity for biodiversity monitoring needs to be enhanced urgently, especially in poorer, high-biodiversity countries where data gaps are disproportionately high. Modern tools and technologies, including remote sensing, bioacoustics and environmental DNA, should be used at larger scales to fill taxonomic and geographic data gaps, especially in the tropics, in marine and freshwater biomes, and for plants, fungi and invertebrates. Stakeholders need to follow best monitoring practices, adopting appropriate indicators and using counterfactual approaches to measure and attribute outcomes and impacts. Data should be made openly and freely available. Companies need to invest in collecting the data required to enhance sustainability in their operations and supply chains. With governments soon to commit to the post-2020 global biodiversity framework, the time is right to make a concerted push on monitoring. However, action at scale is needed now if we are to enhance results-based management adequately to conserve the biodiversity and ecosystem services we all depend on.
... However, there is a risk that excitement over the technologies, encouraged by donors keen to show their support for innovation, may lead to practitioners deciding on which tools to use before they have decided on what they want to measure. Among the numerous blockages to the collection and use of biodiversity data for management, weak monitoring plans and tools that are poorly adapted to local conditions are cited regularly as problems (Stephenson et al. 2017a). Remote sensing therefore needs to be applied only when appropriate to the local situation and when it can be used to answer specific monitoring questions. ...
... Ensure scheme can answer key management questions and adapt it over time to take account of emerging issues and changing circumstances (Likens & Lindenmayer 2018) Ensure scheme addresses the needs of data users, as well as data collectors (Stephenson et al. 2017a) Indicator selection ...
Article
Effective wildlife monitoring is a prerequisite for effective wildlife conservation since, without time-series data on species populations and threats, evidence-based adaptive management will be difficult to achieve. Technological advances in remote sensing offer more opportunities for data collection than ever before. However, if we are to enhance data sharing and the use of data by decision-makers, methods must be relevant to local user needs and be integrated into monitoring schemes with appropriate goals and indicators.
... However, as elsewhere, much of Africa's biodiversity is at risk. Further, decision-making processes around preserving African biodiversity are obstructed by several data-related barriers, ranging from unwillingness to collect and interrogate data to data availability and/or data quality (Stephenson et al. 2017;Farooq et al. 2021). Acoustic monitoring has been highlighted as a monitoring technique that can provide much-needed data (Stephenson 2020), and even facilitate monitoring of environmental threats that can be detected or assessed acoustically such as illegal hunting and logging (Pichegru et al. 2017;Mporas et al. 2020). ...
... The terms 'ecoacoustics' and 'soundscape ecology', which more commonly incorporate multidisciplinary conservation and human-impactrelated work (Ozga 2017;Teixeira et al. 2019;Burivalova et al. 2021) only appeared once (overall) in our keyword repository. Moreover, acoustic recordings can contribute to more than one research theme: for example, behavioural studies can establish an informative baseline for conservation practice including biodiversity assessments and human impact studies (Stephenson et al. 2017;Penar et al. 2020;Lewis et al. 2021). ...
Article
Full-text available
Bioacoustics has emerged as a useful method of data collection and analysis for diverse animals in a wide range of environments and has helped to describe, monitor, and conserve some of Africa’s species biodiversity. However, little is known about how much it contributes to the continent’s research corpus. We report results from a systematic review of bioacoustics applications in Africa that summarises the current state of the field and identifies research opportunities. Using keyword searches of bibliographic databases, scanning reference lists, and placing appeals to the bioacoustics community in Africa we identified 727 publications between 1953 and mid-2020. We documented variables ranging from publication type and author affiliation, geographic location, biome and habitat, biological groups, and research type. Most (69%) studies were focused on animal behaviour, with terrestrial species (88.6%), particularly mammals, substantially outweighing research on freshwater (4.8%) and marine (6.6%) habitats. The majority (74.3%) of authors who have contributed to this body of knowledge were non-African affiliates. Our review suggests that bioacoustics research in Africa has considerable room to expand institutionally, taxonomically, and thematically. We highlight the need and potential for more locally driven research and provide a roadmap for future bioacoustics applications across the continent.
... The lack of achievement in most developing states is particularly striking but may also show that challenges remain in terms of means and investments in these countries. It could also be linked to a recognised lack of reporting or limited data in these countries Stephenson et al., 2017). The WDPA, for example, is relying on the countries to transmit their data relating to the coverage of MPAs (SGD 14.5). ...
... The WDPA, for example, is relying on the countries to transmit their data relating to the coverage of MPAs (SGD 14.5). However, low-income countries often have limited technical, human and financial capacities to digitize the spatial data relating to this target (Failler et al., 2019bStephenson et al., 2017). ...
Article
Full-text available
Since the adoption of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in 2015, the world oceans, to which a specific goal was assigned, have been high on the global agenda. At the national level, the ocean has received increasing consideration, with many coastal states and islands adopting blue economy strategies and frameworks, and putting the ocean at the centre of development. SDG 14: Life Below Water includes ten targets, four of which (14.2, 14.4, 14.5 and 14.6) expired in 2020. This paper presents the state of progress on these four targets that address marine protection and fisheries management. The study is based on an assessment of the indicators established by the United Nations for each target, using publicly available databases allowing to measure the achievement of the targets. The analysis shows that achievement of these four targets is meagre. Only two countries achieved three of the four targets, while no country achieved all four. Most countries were classified as far from achievement or having made low progress. Across the four targets, SDG 14.5 on marine protected areas saw the highest number of achievers but also a high number of countries still far from achievement. Europe and Oceania had the highest number of countries having performed well in terms of achievement while Africa and the Middle East showed the most countries with limited achievement. These results indicate that there is still a long way to go to achieve these four targets in 2030. To move towards achievement, more investment is needed towards priority countries that have seen limited achievement but also some adaptation might be needed in terms of monitoring processes. Finally, it seems useful at this point to reflect on what has been achieved and how countries, especially those facing various socio-economic and political challenges, can fully benefit from current processes towards implementing SDG 14.
... Kelling et al. 2015), the arrival of "big data" does not yet obviate the need for targeted and systematic species monitoring (Bayraktarov et al. 2019). Finally, it is unclear how accessible monitoring data are to end-users (Schmeller et al. 2017;Stephenson et al. 2017a) and the effectiveness with which such data have been used to inform species conservation has been questioned (Nichols & Williams 2006;Lindenmayer et al. 2013;Robinson et al. 2018). This article is protected by copyright. ...
... confirmed are for smaller animal species and for plants, for which monitoring still requires the presence of people on the ground (Stephenson et al. 2015). Our findings therefore underline the need to develop capacity for monitoring where it is most needed, generally in high-biodiversity countries (Schmeller et al. 2017;Stephenson et al. 2017a;Stephenson et al. 2017b). ...
Article
Full-text available
Species monitoring, defined here as the repeated, systematic collection of data to detect long‐term changes in the populations of wild species, is a vital component of conservation practice and policy. We created a database of nearly 1,200 schemes to review spatial, temporal, taxonomic and methodological patterns in global species monitoring. We estimate the total global number of monitoring schemes operating at 3,300—15,000. Since 2000 there has been a sharp increase in the number of new schemes being initiated in lower‐ and middle‐income countries and in megadiverse countries, but a fall in high‐income countries. Our review found a strong positive correlation between the total number of monitoring schemes in a country and its per capita GDP. Schemes that were active in 2018 had been running for an average of 21 years in high‐income countries, compared with 13 years in middle‐income countries and 10 years in low‐income countries. In high‐income countries, over half of monitoring schemes receive government funding, but this falls to less than a quarter in low‐income countries. Data collection is undertaken partly or wholly by volunteers in 37% of schemes, and such schemes cover significantly more sites and species than those undertaken by professionals alone. Birds were by far the most widely monitored taxonomic group, accounting for around half of all schemes, but this bias has declined over time. Monitoring in most taxonomic groups remains very sparse and uncoordinated, and most of the data generated are elusive and unlikely to feed into wider biodiversity conservation processes. We propose ways in which these shortcomings could be addressed, especially by creating an open global meta‐database of biodiversity monitoring schemes and enhancing capacity for species monitoring in countries with high biodiversity. Article impact statement: Species population monitoring for conservation purposes remains strongly biased toward a few vertebrate taxa in wealthier countries. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved
... Well-defined, measurable conservation targets, and accurate on-the-ground data to compare against them, are vital for driving forward progress towards our goal of a sustainable and ecologically healthy future for the planet (Mace et al. 2018). However, obtaining such data for the entire globe is a slow process (Juffe-Bignoli et al. 2016), a problem compounded by a lack of monitoring capacity in some high biodiversity countries (Stephenson et al. 2017). To augment the existing reporting systems, we propose using an approach pioneered by the Sampled Red List Index and similar projects (Butchart et al. 2007;Baillie et al. 2008). ...
... Ongoing monitoring of progress towards conservation targets is essential but the required data are often lacking (Brooks et al. 2015). Resolving this will need more resources and capacity building (Stephenson et al. 2017), especially at the level of the nation state where most action is carried out and thus where guidance is most needed (Smith et al. 2009). At the same time, we need timely global estimates of progress to inform international policy. ...
Preprint
Full-text available
Gaps in existing global conservation area datasets hamper efforts to measure progress towards international coverage and biodiversity representation targets. Here we present a framework to produce more accurate global conservation area metrics, based on selecting a representative set of nations for future collection of the best available data on protected area (PA) and other effective area-based conservation measures (OECM). First, we identified 10 factors that are drivers of conservation area establishment and drivers of biodiversity patterns, and then produced maps sub-dividing each factor into a number of categories to produce 89 features. Second, we used a global search algorithm to select the smallest number of nations needed to contain at least 10% of each feature, identifying a total of 25 countries and finding that some countries could be swapped with others without impacting the efficiency of the results. Third, we repeated the prioritisation approach with the same targets to identify a series of 100 km2 grid squares within these countries to avoid over-representing the larger nations. Collecting and analysing data for this sample could produce quicker, more accurate estimates of conservation area coverage and representativeness, and this approach could potentially improve other global conservation metrics.
... At the same time, the need was recognized to strike an appropriate balance between scientific complexity on the one hand and over-simplification on the other (Sarkki et al. 2013;Balian et al. 2016). Improvement of data collection and use (Ruckelshaus et al. 2015;Stephenson et al. 2015) and lack of common language or philosophies between scientists and policymakers (Borie and Hulme 2015;Rodriguez et al. 2015;Sarkki et al. 2015;Gigante et al. 2016;Tremblay et al. 2016) were also singled out as means for a better decision-making process between these two groups. ...
... Adequate capacity building for both scientists and policymakers to understand the respective processes in which they work was stated as a key SPI process in 18 reviewed articles. For instance, discussing biodiversity data for decision-making in Africa, Stephenson et al. (2015) stressed the importance of building capacity for data collection, using tools, guidelines, and communities on biodiversity planning and monitoring. In order to promote interaction between scientists and decisionmakers to improve mutual understanding in Africa, they also mentioned the need for the improvement of national, international, and cross-sectoral collaboration for biodiversity data management, and the production and use of more data-derived products that encourage data use. ...
Chapter
Full-text available
This chapter contributes to improve an understanding of the effectiveness of different biodiversity science–policy interfaces (SPIs), which play a vital role in navigating policies and actions with sound evidence base. The single comprehensive study that was found to exist, assessed SPIs in terms of their ‘features’—goals, structure, process, outputs and outcomes. We conducted a renewed systematic review of 96 SPI studies in terms of these features, but separating outcomes, as a proxy for effectiveness, from other features. Outcomes were considered in terms of their perceived credibility, relevance and legitimacy. SPI studies were found to focus mostly on global scale SPIs, followed by national and regional scale SPIs and few at subnational or local scale. The global emphasis is largely explained by the numerous studies that focused on the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). Regionally, the vast majority of studies were European, with a severe shortage of studies, and possibly SPIs themselves, in especially the developing world. Communication at the science–policy interface was found to occur mostly between academia and governments, who were also found to initiate most communication. Certain themes emerged across the different features of effective SPIs, including capacity building, trust building, adaptability and continuity. For inclusive, meaningful and continuous participation in biodiversity SPIs, continuous, scientifically sound and adaptable processes are required. Effective, interdisciplinary SPIs and timely and relevant inputs for policymakers are required to ensure more dynamic, iterative and collaborative interactions between policymakers and other actors.
... This degradation may be further underestimated if the disturbance of individual mines is evaluated in isolation without considering the accumulative effects of present, or future mines. Thus, data and approaches that can accommodate potentially complicated dynamics at large scales are needed for decision makers to come to better choices and meet their legal requirements [8,9]. ...
... To minimize the environmental impacts of human activities, analytical approaches that can address the full scale and complexity of their effects are required. Many laws and regulations are theoretically capable of handling such large-scale effects, but too often the data and science needed to fully understand the effects of our actions are limited [8]. Here we combine two classes of large, public datasets to demonstrate that mountaintop mining with valley fill (MTMVF) in Central Appalachia is associated with degraded water quality at landscape scales in ways that affect the survival and recovery of federally protected species. ...
Article
Full-text available
Environmental laws need sound data to protect species and ecosystems. In 1996, a proliferation of mountaintop removal coal mines in a region home to over 50 federally protected species was approved under the Endangered Species Act. Although this type of mining can degrade terrestrial and aquatic habitats, the available data and tools limited the ability to analyze spatially extensive, aggregate effects of such a program. We used two large, public datasets to quantify the relationship between mountaintop removal coal mining and water quality measures important to the survival of imperiled species at a landscape scale across Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. We combined an annual map of the extent of surface mines in this region from 1985 to 2015 generated from Landsat satellite imagery with public water quality data collected over the same time period from 4,260 monitoring stations within the same area. The water quality data show that chronic and acute thresholds for levels of aluminum, arsenic, cadmium, conductivity, copper, lead, manganese, mercury, pH, selenium, and zinc safe for aquatic life were exceeded thousands of times between 1985 and 2015 in streams that are important to the survival and recovery of species on the Endangered Species List. Linear mixed models showed that levels of manganese, sulfate, sulfur, total dissolved solids, total suspended solids, and zinc increased by 6.73E+01 to 6.87E+05 μg/L and conductivity by 3.30E+06 μS /cm for one percent increase in the mined proportion of the area draining into a monitoring station. The proportion of a drainage area that was mined also increased the likelihood that chronic thresholds for copper, lead, and zinc required to sustain aquatic life were exceeded. Finally, the proportion of a watershed that was mined was positively related to the likelihood that a waterway would be designated as impaired under the Clean Water Act. Together these results demonstrate that the extent of mountaintop removal mining, which can be derived from public satellite data, is predictive of water quality measures important to imperiled species—effects that must be considered under environmental law. These findings and the public data used in our analyses are pertinent to ongoing re-evaluations of the effects of current mine permitting regulations to the recovery and survival of federally protected species.
... birds, mammals and amphibians) have >80% of their species assessed, while the Red List includes only 0.2% of described fungi (285 species), 1.7% of described invertebrates (23,416 species, with better coverage of molluscs, freshwater crustaceans and Odonata), and 10% of described plants (40,468 species). This shortfall is due to lack of human capacity, including lack of experts, funding, public awareness, and political will (Hochkirch 2016;Stephenson et al. 2017a). The Red List assessments of > 10,000 bird species involved about 2,300 contributors (Rondinini et al. 2013), This article is protected by copyright. ...
... Root causes for the lack of biodiversity data collection are numerous, and include financial and capacity constraints and inadequate political willingness (e.g. Stephenson et al. 2017a). ...
Article
Full-text available
Measuring progress towards international biodiversity targets requires robust knowledge of the conservation status of species, which is provided by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. However, data and capacity are lacking for most hyperdiverse groups such as invertebrates, plants and fungi, particularly in megadiverse or high‐endemism regions. Conservation policies and biodiversity strategies aimed at halting biodiversity loss by 2020 need to be adapted to tackle these information shortfalls in the post‐2020 period. Here, we propose an eight‐point strategy to close existing data gaps by: (1) reviving explorative field research on the distribution, abundance and ecology of species; (2) linking taxonomic research more closely with conservation; (3) improving global biodiversity databases by making the submission of spatially explicit data mandatory for scientific publications; (4) developing a global spatial database on threats to biodiversity to facilitate IUCN Red List assessments; (5) automating pre‐assessments by integrating distribution data and spatial threat data; (6) building capacity in taxonomy, ecology, and biodiversity monitoring in countries with high species richness and/or endemism; (7) creating species monitoring programmes for lesser‐known taxa; (8) developing sufficient funding mechanisms to reduce reliance on voluntary efforts. Implementing this strategy within the post‐2020 biodiversity framework will help to overcome the lack of capacity and data regarding the conservation status of biodiversity. This will require a collaborative effort between scientists, policy makers and conservation practitioners. Article Impact Statement: Global conservation policies require a strategy to obtain robust data for measuring progress against biodiversity targets. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved
... Although data-poor regions have the potential to increase their representative biodiversity data through citizen-science projects and other biomonitoring initiatives, underlying challenges remain to be addressed (Schmeller et al. 2017, Pocock et al. 2018. In Africa, for example, Stephenson et al. (2017) attributed these information gaps to limited data availability, quality, accessibility, and usability, even though data collection efforts have extended across the continent. Studies have attempted to assess the availability and usefulness of DAK plant records for western Africa (Asase and Peterson 2016, Ganglo and Kakpo 2016, Sainge et al. 2017, but comparable analysis has not been conducted for other taxa. ...
... Previous studies using similar approaches have found the same pattern for plants in the region (Asase and Peterson 2016, Ganglo and Kakpo 2016, Sainge et al. 2017). Although western African birds are poorly studied in general, some of the biases and gaps found in this study could be the result of other challenges, including limited capacity in data collection, digitization, availability, accessibility, usability, and quality, and the failure to repatriate or publish data from the region held by foreign collections (Meyer et al. 2015, Peterson et al. 2015a, Stephenson et al. 2017. As shown in our results, excluding eBird DAK data, GBIF-based DAK data contributed only 9% of researchgrade data used in this study, with the majority removed owing to poor quality (e.g., no dates, not georeferenced), considerately reducing the total amount of data available for analysis. ...
Article
Full-text available
Open-source primary biodiversity data, or digital accessible knowledge (DAK), are widely used in biodiversity informatics to understand the status of global biodiversity, model species' ecological niches and geographic distributions, and inform biodiversity conservation decisions. However, these datasets are often unavailable, incomplete, or unevenly distributed across regions. We examined DAK for the birds of western Africa, obtained from the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) and eBird, to identify gaps in the current knowledge of birds of western Africa, which can be used to guide future avian surveys across the region. We cleaned and standardized the data, resulting in >430,000 records, with 91% from eBird. From these we calculated inventory completeness indices for all grid cells at 0.5°, 0.3°, and 0.1° spatial resolutions across the region. We defined well-surveyed grid cells as those with completeness indices >80% and with >200 associated DAK records. We found marked spatial, seasonal, environmental, and temporal (historical) biases and information gaps in coverage. We identified 59 well-surveyed cells at 0.1°, 55 at 0.3°, and 50 at 0.5° resolution, with well-surveyed sites clustered around points of access such as major cities and national reserves or parks. Our results identified remarkably distinct areas in environmental space with diverse climatic conditions to be given priority for future avian surveys and conservation. The distinctiveness in the climatic conditions of these areas compared to well-surveyed sites is an indication that these areas when sampled could provide new insights into western African bird diversity. Lastly, we show the underrepresentation of traditional biodiversity data (e.g., museums, herbaria collections) compared to citizen science-enabled data (e.g., eBird), which demonstrates the potential of citizen science in documenting and monitoring biodiversity in western Africa, and by extension other poorly known regions of the world. Exhaustivité des connaissances numériques accessibles sur les oiseaux de l'Afrique de l'Ouest: priorités pour les inventaires RÉSUMÉ Les données ouvertes sur la biodiversité primaire, ou connaissances numériques accessibles (DAK), sont largement utilisées en informatique de la biodiversité afin de connaître le statut de la biodiversité mondiale, de modéliser les niches écologiques et les répartitions géographiques des espèces, ainsi que d'éclairer la prise de décisions en matière de conservation de la biodiversité. Toutefois, ces ensembles de données sont souvent non disponibles, incomplets ou répartis inégalement entre les régions. Nous avons examiné les DAK sur les oiseaux de l'Afrique de l'Ouest, obtenus à partir du Système mondial d'informations sur la biodiversité (SMIB) et d'eBird, afin d'identifier les lacunes dans les connaissances actuelles sur les oiseaux de l'Afrique de l'Ouest, lesquelles peuvent être utilisées pour guider les futurs inventaires aviaires dans cette région. Nous avons nettoyé et standardisé les données, ce qui a donné plus de 430,000 mentions, dont 91% provenaient d'eBird. À partir de celles-ci, nous avons calculé des indices d'exhaustivité des inventaires pour chaque cellule de grille à des résolutions spatiales de 0,5°, 0,3° et 0,1° dans toute la région. Nous avons défini les cellules de grille bien étudiées comme étant celles ayant des indices d'exhaustivité >80% et comportant >200 mentions DAK. Nous avons trouvé des biais spatiaux, saisonniers, environnementaux et temporels (historiques) importants et des lacunes dans la couverture. Nous avons identifié 59 cellules bien étudiées à une résolution de 0,1°, 55 à 0,3° et 50 à 0,5°, avec des sites bien étudiés regroupés autour de points d'accès tels que des grandes villes et des réserves ou parcs nationaux. Nos résultats ont permis d'identifier des zones remarquablement distinctes dans l'espace environnemental avec diverses conditions climatiques à prioriser pour de futurs inventaires de l'avifaune et la conservation. Le caractère distinctif des conditions climatiques de ces zones comparé aux sites bien étudiés est une indication que ces zones, lorsqu'échantillonnées, pourraient fournir de nouvelles informations sur la diversité des oiseaux de l'Afrique de l'Ouest. Enfin, nous montrons la sous-représentation des données traditionnelles sur la biodiversité (p. ex. musées, collections d'herbiers) en comparaison des données de science citoyenne (p. ex. eBird), ce qui démontre le potentiel de la science
... Effective conservation of freshwater biodiversity requires indepth knowledge of the composition, distribution and abundance of communities as well as their sensitivity to various abiotic, biotic, and anthropogenic factors (Kietzka et al., 2019). Since the monitoring of entire ecosystems is challenging due to limitations in time, funds, expertise, and labor, it is strategic to use biological indicator species which reflect the overall health of the ecosystem (Stephenson et al., 2017;Stephenson et al., 2020). Odonates have been identified as valuable barometers of environmental changes in freshwater ecosystems (Córdoba-Aguilar, 2008;Hassall, 2015). ...
... Given the lack of funding and interest in using macroinvertebrates as bioindicators of aquatic habitat quality, it is critical to establish a strong link between researchers and a network of community scientists to monitor macroinvertebrates using modern technology (e.g. mobile applications and open databases) to collect, share, manage, and analyze data (Stephenson et al., 2017). In SAR, odonates form integral parts of the South African Scoring System (SASS), a biomonitoring tool for establishing ecological integrity of lotic habitats, which is not yet regularly applied in neighboring countries. ...
Article
Full-text available
Freshwater habitats worldwide are experiencing many threats from environmental and anthropogenic sources, affecting biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. In Africa, particularly in Mediterranean climate zones, rapid human population growth is predicted to have great impact on natural habitats besides naturally occurring events such as unpredictable drought frequency and severity. Here, we analyze the potential correlation between odonate assemblage conservation priority (measured with the Dragonfly Biotic Index: DBI) and the magnitude of climate change and human perturbation in African regions with a dominant Mediterranean climate, namely Northern (NAR: Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia) and Southern African region (SAR: South Africa). Using a compilation of studies assessing odonate assemblages in lotic and lentic habitats of both regions (295 sites in NAR and 151 sites in SAR), we estimated DBI, temporal change in average annual temperature (T), annual precipitation (P), and human footprint index (HFI) in each site, then we tested whether sites with different levels of DBI were associated with different magnitudes of climatic and anthropogenic change. We estimated past (between 1980–1999 and 2000–2018) and future changes (between 1980–1999 and 2081–2100) in T and P based on three CMIP6 scenarios representing low (SSP126), moderate (SSP245), and high emission (SSP585), as well as the change in HFI from 1993 to 2009. We found that assemblages with higher DBI (i.e. higher conservation priority) encountered lower increase in T and slightly greater decrease in P than assemblages with lower DBI (i.e. lower conservation priority) in NAR during 1980–2018, but are projected to experience higher increase in T and lower decrease in P in future projections for 2081–2100. In SAR, the increase in T was mostly similar across assemblages but the decline in P was higher for assemblages with higher DBI during 1980–2018 and 2081–2100, suggesting that assemblages of higher conservation priority in SAR are threatened by drought. While HFI showed an overall increase in NAR but not in SAR, its temporal change showed only minor differences across assemblages with different DBI levels. We discuss the importance of management plans to mitigate the effects of climatic and anthropogenic threats, so improving conservation of odonate assemblages in these regions.
... Although data-poor regions have the potential to increase their representative biodiversity data through citizen-science projects and other biomonitoring initiatives, underlying challenges remain to be addressed (Schmeller et al. 2017, Pocock et al. 2018. In Africa, for example, Stephenson et al. (2017) attributed these information gaps to limited data availability, quality, accessibility, and usability, even though data collection efforts have extended across the continent. Studies have attempted to assess the availability and usefulness of DAK plant records for western Africa (Asase and Peterson 2016, Ganglo and Kakpo 2016, Sainge et al. 2017, but comparable analysis has not been conducted for other taxa. ...
... Previous studies using similar approaches have found the same pattern for plants in the region (Asase and Peterson 2016, Ganglo and Kakpo 2016, Sainge et al. 2017). Although western African birds are poorly studied in general, some of the biases and gaps found in this study could be the result of other challenges, including limited capacity in data collection, digitization, availability, accessibility, usability, and quality, and the failure to repatriate or publish data from the region held by foreign collections (Meyer et al. 2015, Peterson et al. 2015a, Stephenson et al. 2017. As shown in our results, excluding eBird DAK data, GBIF-based DAK data contributed only 9% of researchgrade data used in this study, with the majority removed owing to poor quality (e.g., no dates, not georeferenced), considerately reducing the total amount of data available for analysis. ...
Article
Full-text available
Open-source primary biodiversity data, or digital accessible knowledge (DAK), are widely used in biodiversity informatics to understand the status of global biodiversity, model species' ecological niches and geographic distributions, and inform biodiversity conservation decisions. However, these datasets are often unavailable, incomplete, or unevenly distributed across regions. We examined DAK for the birds of western Africa, obtained from the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) and eBird, to identify gaps in the current knowledge of birds of western Africa, which can be used to guide future avian surveys across the region. We cleaned and standardized the data, resulting in >430,000 records, with 91% from eBird. From these we calculated inventory completeness indices for all grid cells at 0.5°, 0.3°, and 0.1° spatial resolutions across the region. We defined well-surveyed grid cells as those with completeness indices >80% and with >200 associated DAK records. We found marked spatial, seasonal, environmental, and temporal (historical) biases and information gaps in coverage. We identified 59 well-surveyed cells at 0.1°, 55 at 0.3°, and 50 at 0.5° resolution, with well-surveyed sites clustered around points of access such as major cities and national reserves or parks. Our results identified remarkably distinct areas in environmental space with diverse climatic conditions to be given priority for future avian surveys and conservation. The distinctiveness in the climatic conditions of these areas compared to well-surveyed sites is an indication that these areas when sampled could provide new insights into western African bird diversity. Lastly, we show the underrepresentation of traditional biodiversity data (e.g., museums, herbaria collections) compared to citizen science-enabled data (e.g., eBird), which demonstrates the potential of citizen science in documenting and monitoring biodiversity in western Africa, and by extension other poorly known regions of the world. Exhaustivité des connaissances numériques accessibles sur les oiseaux de l'Afrique de l'Ouest: priorités pour les inventaires RÉSUMÉ Les données ouvertes sur la biodiversité primaire, ou connaissances numériques accessibles (DAK), sont largement utilisées en informatique de la biodiversité afin de connaître le statut de la biodiversité mondiale, de modéliser les niches écologiques et les répartitions géographiques des espèces, ainsi que d'éclairer la prise de décisions en matière de conservation de la biodiversité. Toutefois, ces ensembles de données sont souvent non disponibles, incomplets ou répartis inégalement entre les régions. Nous avons examiné les DAK sur les oiseaux de l'Afrique de l'Ouest, obtenus à partir du Système mondial d'informations sur la biodiversité (SMIB) et d'eBird, afin d'identifier les lacunes dans les connaissances actuelles sur les oiseaux de l'Afrique de l'Ouest, lesquelles peuvent être utilisées pour guider les futurs inventaires aviaires dans cette région. Nous avons nettoyé et standardisé les données, ce qui a donné plus de 430,000 mentions, dont 91% provenaient d'eBird. À partir de celles-ci, nous avons calculé des indices d'exhaustivité des inventaires pour chaque cellule de grille à des résolutions spatiales de 0,5°, 0,3° et 0,1° dans toute la région. Nous avons défini les cellules de grille bien étudiées comme étant celles ayant des indices d'exhaustivité >80% et comportant >200 mentions DAK. Nous avons trouvé des biais spatiaux, saisonniers, environnementaux et temporels (historiques) importants et des lacunes dans la couverture. Nous avons identifié 59 cellules bien étudiées à une résolution de 0,1°, 55 à 0,3° et 50 à 0,5°, avec des sites bien étudiés regroupés autour de points d'accès tels que des grandes villes et des réserves ou parcs nationaux. Nos résultats ont permis d'identifier des zones remarquablement distinctes dans l'espace environnemental avec diverses conditions climatiques à prioriser pour de futurs inventaires de l'avifaune et la conservation. Le caractère distinctif des conditions climatiques de ces zones comparé aux sites bien étudiés est une indication que ces zones, lorsqu'échantillonnées, pourraient fournir de nouvelles informations sur la diversité des oiseaux de l'Afrique de l'Ouest. Enfin, nous montrons la sous-représentation des données traditionnelles sur la biodiversité (p. ex. musées, collections d'herbiers) en comparaison des données de science citoyenne (p. ex. eBird), ce qui démontre le potentiel de la science
... Without consideration of these 'downstream' effects, environmental laws and policies will fail in their mission to protect the natural ecosystems upon which biodiversity and human life depend (3). Thus, data and approaches that can accommodate potentially complicated dynamics at large scales are needed for decision makers to come to better choices and meet their legal requirements (4,5). ...
Preprint
Full-text available
Environmental laws need sound data to protect species and ecosystems. In 1996, a proliferation of mountaintop removal coal mines in a region home to over 50 federally protected species was approved under the Endangered Species Act. Although this type of mining can degrade terrestrial and aquatic habitats, the available data and tools limited the ability to analyze spatially extensive, aggregate effects of such a program. We used two large, public datasets to evaluate the aggregate effects of mountaintop removal coal mining on water quality over 15 years across Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. We combined an annual map of the extent of surface mines in this region from 1985 to 2015 generated from Landsat satellite imagery with public water quality data collected over the same time period from 4,260 monitoring stations within the same area. We used linear mixed models to estimate the relationship between the proportion of the area draining into a monitoring station that was mined and measures of water quality relevant to standards for sustaining aquatic life. Chronic and acute thresholds for aquatic life were exceeded thousands of times between 1985 and 2015 in streams that were important to the survival and recovery of species on the Endangered Species List. We found that mined area was positively related to increases in conductivity, manganese, sulfate, sulfur, total dissolved solids, total suspended solids, and zinc. The likelihood that chronic thresholds for copper, lead, and zinc were exceeded also increased with mined area. Finally, the proportion of a watershed that was mined was positively related to the likelihood that a waterway would be designated as impaired under the Clean Water Act. Our results demonstrate that mining has downstream effects that must be considered under environmental law. These findings and the public data used in our analyses are pertinent to an upcoming re-evaluation of the effects of current mine permitting regulations to the recovery and survival of federally protected species.
... Research has also widely exposed the limited interaction between conservation scientists, practitioners, and other key stakeholders such as local communities (Barmuta et al., 2010;Cook et al., 2013;Hulme, 2014;Walsh et al., 2015), which contributes to lack of accessible evidence (Arlettaz et al., 2010;Stephenson et al., 2016), lack of involvement of stakeholders (Suskevics, 2019), or the production of science that is not relevant to practice (Milner-Guland et al., 2010). The challenges of undertaking good knowledge exchange are also widely documented (Cvitanovic et al., 2015(Cvitanovic et al., , 2016Marshall et al., 2017;Nguyen et al., 2017). ...
... Une solution pour réduire les lacunes en matière de données et de capacités pourrait être de désagréger les ensembles de données mondiales pour générer des indicateurs au niveau national pour les pays où ces données n'existent pas, mais cette approche peut induire des biais importants et, à ce jour, il existe peu d'exemples où elle a été systématiquement appliquée. Stephenson et al. (2017) ont montré en utilisant des comparaisons de données mondiales désagrégées et de données générées au niveau national pour quatre indicateurs dans les pays andins tropicaux, que les deux approches conduisent souvent à des valeurs divergentes. La plupart des variations étant dues à des différences méthodologiques, cela remet en question la fiabilité des comparaisons entre pays et la synthèse des données des indicateurs nationaux à l'échelle régionale ou mondiale. ...
Article
Full-text available
Cet article vise à faire le point sur là où nous en sommes au niveau mondial en matière de production et de gestion des données sur la biodiversité. Le choix des données et des indicateurs à collecter en matière de biodiversité, y compris sur le plan de la socio-économie et de la description des relations hommes-nature, pose de multiples enjeux, à la fois politiques, techniques et scientifiques. Malgré les progrès conceptuels réalisés tant par les organisations que par les praticiens et les universitaires à l'interface de la science et du politique, d'importants défis attendent toujours la gouvernance de la biodiversité au niveau mondial (Borie and Hulme, 2015). La fiabilité et la robustesse des données disponibles sont en effet extrêmement variables et fortement dépendantes de l'état des systèmes de suivi nationaux (Han et al., 2017). Or, une étude récente a montré que les systèmes d'observation de la biodiversité sont presque partout insuffisants (Walters and Scholes, 2017).
... Es ist erstaunlich, dass die Antworten auf diese Fragen nicht bekannt sind, wenn man bedenkt, dass sich sowohl Wissenschaftlerinnen und Wissenschaftler als auch Fachleute seit Langem über die Informationslücke und den mangelnden Austausch zwischen Wissenschaft und Naturschutzpraxis beklagen (Arlettaz et al. 2010;Anderson 2014;Stephenson et al. 2017). Forschungsergebnisse sind den Fachleuten aus der Praxis häufig nicht bekannt und können daher bei der Planung und Durchführung von Naturschutzmaßnahmen nicht berücksichtigt werden (Braunisch et al. 2012;Cvitanovic et al. 2016;Toomey et al. 2017 Evidenzbasierter Naturschutz -Expertenwissen -Wissenstransfer -Umsetzungsartikel -Online-Dienste Abstract Professionals working in practical conservation management as well as scientists complain about the information gap between science and practice. ...
Article
Full-text available
Sowohl Fachleute im praktischen Naturschutz als auch Wissenschaftlerinnen und Wissenschaftler beklagen den lückenhaften Informationsfluss zwischen Wissenschaft und Naturschutzpraxis. Welche Informationsquellen sind für Fachleute im praktischen Naturschutz wichtig und welche nutzen sie in ihrem Arbeitsalltag? Die Beantwortung dieser Fragen würde einen effektiveren Wissenstransfer von der Wissenschaft in die Praxis fördern. Um solche Informationsquellen zu ermitteln, führten wir 2017 eine quantitative Umfrage unter Schweizer Naturschutzfachleuten durch und schlossen dabei Waldfachleute ein. Erfahrungsbasierte Informationsquellen sind für Fachleute im Naturschutz wichtiger als evidenzbasierte Informationsquellen. Artikel aus internationalen wissenschaftlichen Zeitschriften werden von den Fachleuten kaum gelesen. Um die Informations- lücke zwischen Wissenschaft und Praxis im Naturschutz zu schließen, sollten sich Wissenschaftlerinnen und Wissenschaftler als Expertinnen und Experten engagieren und sich Zeit für den direkten Kontakt mit den Naturschutzfachleuten nehmen. Wichtig sind zudem kurze, auf die Zielgruppe ausgerichtete und zusammenfassende Veröffentlichungen sowie spezialisierte Webseiten.
... Our study evaluated the current status of plant collection in tropical East Africa, analyzed possible causes of inventory incompleteness, and identified priority collection strategies. We propose the strengthening of the digitalization of specimens of various organizations or individuals, strengthening of cooperative investigations between countries, breaking through the bottleneck of administrative units in plant investigation, and establishing priority inspection routes to improve plant inspections in the region (Stephenson et al., 2017). This will be of great significance to the development of plant resources, land use, and the biodiversity conservation in East African countries. ...
Article
Inventory incompleteness has seriously affected the accuracy of the spatial distribution pattern of biodiversity, but the causes of incompleteness and the priority investigation with quantitative methods have received far less attention. In this study, we constructed a plant database of tropical East Africa, evaluated and explained the inventory incompleteness, and identified the priority collecting area. The results showed that the spatial distribution pattern of collection density and species richness is very uneven in tropical East Africa, with 16 % of regions having zero-collection, and more than half of the regions having inventory incompleteness. Species collection and completeness are mainly affected by species richness and road density, followed by national boundaries and insecurity in some areas. We quantitatively selected priority investigation areas in tropical East Africa to supplement biodiversity data in the area. We recommend prioritizing collections especially around western Kenya, southern Tanzania, and around the border of Tanzania and Kenya. Future work should focus on improving the digitization of specimens and the strengthening of cooperation among countries, for these are the best ways to raise awareness of the biodiversity patterns in tropical East Africa.
... Adequate capacity building for both scientists and policymakers to understand the respective processes in which they work was stated as a key SPI process in 18 reviewed articles. For instance, discussing biodiversity data for decision-making in Africa, Stephenson et al. (2015) stressed the importance of building capacity for data collection, using tools, guidelines, and communities on biodiversity planning and monitoring. In order to promote interaction between scientists and decisionmakers to improve mutual understanding in Africa, they also mentioned the need for the improvement of national, international, and cross-sectoral collaboration for biodiversity data management, and the production and use of more data-derived products that encourage data use. ...
Chapter
This book presents up-to-date analyses of community-based approaches to the sustainable resource management of socio-ecological production landscapes and seascapes (SEPLS) in areas where a harmonious relationship between the natural environment and the people who inhabit it is essential to ensure community and environmental well-being as well as to build resilience in the ecosystems that support this well-being. This chapter introduces the key concepts and approaches, objectives, and organization of this book.
... Data can temper extreme rhetoric by providing a more nuanced evaluation of regulatory approaches 4 , offering evidence for competing alternatives, and identifying areas for compromise 5 . Although data availability does not guarantee their use in decision-making 6 , data collection and analysis are the first steps to realizing these benefits. There is a pressing need to use data to inform environmental policy because it often involves opposing ideals, with biodiversity protection often (unnecessarily) pitted against economic development. ...
Article
Full-text available
To protect biodiversity, conservation laws should be evaluated and improved using data. We provide a comprehensive assessment of how a key provision of the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) is implemented: consultation to ensure federal actions do not jeopardize the existence of listed species. Data from all 24,893 consultations recorded by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) from 2000-2017 show federal agencies and NMFS frequently agreed (79%) on how federal actions would affect listed species. In cases of disagreement, agencies most often (71%) underestimated effects relative to the conclusions of species experts at NMFS. Such instances can have deleterious consequences for imperiled species. In 22 consultations covering 14 species, agencies concluded that an action would not harm species while NMFS determined the action would jeopardize species' existence. These results affirm the importance of the role of NMFS in preventing federal actions from jeopardizing listed species. Excluding expert agencies from consultation compromises biodiversity conservation, but we identify approaches that improve consultation efficiency without sacrificing species protections.
... Like ABS, capacity development is already happening, but there is room to improve in terms of strengthening cooperation and awareness of existing efforts and initiatives (Stephenson et al., 2017;Harden-Davies and Gjerde, 2019). The treaty can help to coordinate and raise awareness, highlighting the value of nonmonetary benefits in building research capacity and in turn, the importance of capacity building to conservation. ...
Article
Full-text available
Better scientific knowledge of the poorly-known deep sea and areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ) is key to its conservation, an urgent need in light of increasing environmental pressures. Access to marine genetic resources (MGR) for the biodiversity research community is essential to allow these environments to be better characterised. Negotiations have commenced under the auspices of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to develop a new treaty to further the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in ABNJ. It is timely to consider the relevant issues with the development of the treaty underway. Currently uncertainties surround the legal definition of MGR and scope of related benefit-sharing, against a background of regional and global governance gaps in ABNJ. These complications are mirrored in science, with recent major advances in the field of genomics, but variability in handling of the resulting increasing volumes of data. Here, we attempt to define the concept of MGR from a scientific perspective, review current practices for the generation of and access to MGR from ABNJ in the context of relevant regulations, and illustrate the utility of best-practice with a case study. We contribute recommendations with a view to strengthen best-practice in accessibility of MGR, including: funder recognition of the central importance of taxonomy/biodiversity research; support of museums/collections for long-term sample curation; open access to data; usage and further development of globally recognised data standards and platforms; publishing of datasets via open-access, quality controlled and standardised data systems and open access journals; commitment to best-practice workflows; a global registry of cruises; and lastly development of a clearing house to further centralised access to the above. We argue that commitment to best-practice would allow greater sharing of MGR for research and extensive secondary use including conservation and environmental monitoring, and provide an exemplar for access and benefit-sharing (ABS) to inform the biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ) process.
... Adequate capacity building for both scientists and policymakers to understand the respective processes in which they work was stated as a key SPI process in 18 reviewed articles. For instance, discussing biodiversity data for decision-making in Africa, Stephenson et al. (2015) stressed the importance of building capacity for data collection, using tools, guidelines, and communities on biodiversity planning and monitoring. In order to promote interaction between scientists and decisionmakers to improve mutual understanding in Africa, they also mentioned the need for the improvement of national, international, and cross-sectoral collaboration for biodiversity data management, and the production and use of more data-derived products that encourage data use. ...
Chapter
Full-text available
This chapter attempts to (a) identify the drivers of biodiversity degradation of the Sundarbans of Bangladesh, (b) present an alternative understanding on the measures for sustainable utilisation and conservation of resources and (c) suggest actions and policy alternatives to reverse the process of degradation and to move towards transformative harmonious human–nature interactions. While it is documented that the size of the Sundarbans of Bangladesh reduced and several floral and faunal species of the forest have been facing threat of extinction, the causes of continuous and unabated loss of the resources of this forest region have not been rigorously demonstrated. By challenging the mainstream approaches, the chapter theoretically and empirically exhibits that the exclusion of indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs) in the conservation and management process has contributed to the losses of biological diversity and suggests that the IPLCs have been practising several unique production methods based upon their traditional knowledge which can significantly contribute to the sustainable management of resources through symbiotic human–nature relationships. Following multiple evidence base (MEB) approaches, it is found that human sociality-based conservation practice positively impacts on resilient indicators and helps achieve Aichi Biodiversity Targets.
... Yet, one acute issue in biodiversity monitoring schemes is the occurrence of a substantial amount of missing data (Harel & Zhou, 2006;Nakagawa & Freckleton, 2008;Wauchope et al., 2019), up to the point where the asymptotic assumption becomes obsolete. This is especially the case in areas where data collection is costly or logistically difficult to undertake, but where biodiversity is no less in need of monitoring (Stephenson, Bowles-Newark, et al., 2017;Tibshirani, 1996). ...
Article
1. In biodiversity monitoring, large datasets are becoming more and more widely available and are increasingly used globally to estimate species trends and conservation status. These large‐scale datasets challenge existing statistical analysis methods, many of which are not adapted to their size, incompleteness and heterogeneity. The development of scalable methods to impute missing data in incomplete large‐scale monitoring datasets is crucial to balance sampling in time or space and thus better inform conservation policies. 2. We developed a new method based on penalized Poisson models to impute and analyse incomplete monitoring data in a large‐scale framework. The method allows parameterization of (a) space and time factors, (b) the main effects of predictor covariates, as well as (c) space–time interactions. It also benefits from robust statistical and computational capability in large‐scale settings. 3. The method was tested extensively on both simulated and real‐life waterbird data, with the findings revealing that it outperforms 6 existing methods in terms of missing‐data imputation errors. Applying the method to 16 waterbird species, we estimated their long‐term trends for the first time at the entire North African scale, a region where monitoring data suffers from many gaps in space‐ and time‐series. 4. This new approach opens promising perspectives to increase the accuracy of species‐abundance trend estimations. We made it freely available in the R package ‘lori’ (https://CRAN.R‐project.org/package=lori) and recommend its use for large‐scale count data, particularly in citizen‐science monitoring programmes.
... Argentina is similar to many developing countries in that detailed spatial data on human influence are urgently needed to support biodiversity conservation and land use planning (Stephenson et al., 2017;Rochette et al., 2019). The increased availability of spatial data on human infrastructure and GIS capabilities in many developing countries (Scott and Rajabifard, 2017;Amade et al., 2018;Coetzee et al., 2020) provides opportunities to incorporate information on human influence into the land use planning process. ...
Article
Full-text available
Conserving the remaining wildest forests is a top priority for conservation, and human footprint maps are a practical way to identify wild areas. However, available global assessments of wild areas are too coarse for land use decisions, especially in countries with high deforestation rates, such as Argentina. Our main goal was to map the human footprint in Argentina’s forested areas to improve conservation planning at regional and country levels. Specifically, we quantified the level of human influence on the environment and mapped the wildest native forests (i) across forest regions, and (ii) in the different land-use categories of the National Forest Plan, which is a key policy instrument for conserving the nation’s native forests through zoning, and (iii) identified wildest forests that are at risk due to human activities. We analyzed detailed spatial data on settlements, transportation, energy, and land use change, and estimated the areal extent to which these various human activities disrupt natural processes. We defined pixels with human footprint index of zero as wildest areas. We found that a substantial portion (43%) of Argentina’s forested area remains wild, which suggests there are opportunities for conservation. However, levels of human influence varied substantially among forest regions, and Atlantic and Chaco forests have the highest levels of human influence. Further, we found that the National Forest Plan does not conserve the wildest forests of the nation, as most (78%) of the wildest native forests are located in zones that allow silvopasture, timber production, and/or forest conversion to crops, thus potentially threatening biodiversity in these areas. Our map of wildest forests is an important, but first, step in identifying wildland forests in Argentina, as available spatial data layers of human activities capture many, but not all, human influences on forests. For instance, small human features, like certain rural roads, trails, and rural settlements exist in our wildest areas. Our study provides new datasets to assist land use planners and conservationists, and identifies areas for conservation attention in Argentina. More broadly, our analyses highlight the value of detailed human footprint data to support conservation decisions in forest landscapes.
... The accessibility of WBS has been identified as a key limiting factor or barrier to evidence-based decision-making in the environmental realm (e.g., Pullin et al. 2004;Pullin and Knight 2005;Cook et al. 2010;Kadykalo et al. 2021b). Moreover, there are empirical indications that locating and accessing WBS is limited by issues such as available time (Cvitanovic et al. 2014;Nguyen et al. 2018;Girling and Gibbs 2019;Sutherland et al. 2019), data that is formatted and stored to be useable and shareable Roux et al. 2006;Addison et al. 2016;Stephenson et al. 2017), funding (Walsh et al. 2015;Smith et al. 2017;Girling and Gibbs 2019), quantity of WBS (i.e., information overload) (Girling and Gibbs 2019), skills and abilities to evaluate the quality of available WBS (Walsh et al. 2015;Rose 2017;Nguyen et al. 2018;Sutherland et al. 2019), and incompatible time frames between research and management actions (i.e., urgency in decision making) (Young and Van Aarde 2011). In addition, managers and decision makers may not value WBS, in that research produced may not be relevant (Whitten et al. 2001), timely (Cook et al. 2013), or they may be more comfortable with experiencebased evidence Cook et al. 2012). ...
Article
Full-text available
Natural resources management (NRM) is complex and relies on decisions supported by evidence, including Western-based science (WBS) and Indigenous and local knowledge. However, it has been shown that there is a disconnect between WBS and its application, whereby managers often draw on non-empirical sources of information (i.e., intuition or advice from colleagues). This article focuses on the role of WBS in decisions made in management of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) in the province of British Columbia, Canada. We conducted open-ended interviews with NRM branches of Indigenous and parliamentary governments, as well as with nongovernmental stakeholder groups, to examine (a) sources of WBS consulted in decision-making and (b) barriers to accessing WBS by managers. We found that respondents involved with NRM relied on a diverse set of sources for WBS, seldom relying exclusively on one source. However, respondents relied more on internal sources (government databases) compared to external ones (peer-reviewed journal articles). We also found that respondents described WBS as valuable and generally accessible, yet barriers were identified with respect to the interface and organization of government grey data and literature, paywalls associated with peer-reviewed journals and articles, and institutional capacity, time, and support. We recommend strategies and tools to facilitate accessibility of WBS in support of bridging the knowledge-action divide, including increased publishing of open access data/articles, systematic reviews, use of knowledge brokers, specialized WBS training, and knowledge co-production. It is our hope that identification of barriers and the implementation of improved access to WBS will result in more effective NRM by giving managers access to the tools and knowledge they need for evidence-based decision-making.
... Open access formats, which are becoming increasingly common, have the potential to empower practitioners in ways that have not been possible before (Fuller et al. 2014) which is important given that practitioners value science (Piczak et al. 2022a). However, just because evidence is accessible does not mean that it is useable (Stephenson et al. 2017). To that end, there is need for the development of resources such as dashboards and "toolboxes" that serve as a one-stop-shop for relevant information presented in formats that allow practitioners to rapidly assess evidence and use it to inform their practice. ...
Article
Full-text available
Freshwater ecosystems are among the most degraded on the planet and there is strong evidence that freshwater biodiversity is in precipitous decline. To that end, there is urgent need to conserve and restore freshwater ecosystems and biodiversity in order to ensure that freshwaters continue to yield diverse ecosystem services. Although there is some scientific uncertainty about how to do so, there is recognition that practitioners play a particularly important role. Practitioners work on the front line with a focus on implementing various environmental interventions and therefore can bridge the gap between knowledge and action in a unique way given their extensive experience in the field. Yet, practitioners do not know it all, nor do they have access or time to keep up-to-date on the growing scientific evidence base. Ecopracticology (i.e., the study of socio-ecological practice and the ensuing body of knowledge) is, therefore, a useful construct for thinking about the ways in which different disciplinary domains and ways of knowing to intersect to generate or refine knowledge and evidence needed to implement actions that benefit people and the environment. Ecopracticology is inherently grounded in that most practitioners are environmental stewards who deliver solutions alone and/or in partnership with diverse stakeholders and rightsholders. Ecopracticology, therefore, represents both the challenge and opportunity for addressing the freshwater biodiversity crisis. Here we consider what ecopracticology has to offer, and strategies for realizing the pathways that enable knowledge exchange and implementation for on-the-ground/in-the-water practitioner actions benefitting conservation and restoration of freshwater ecosystems and biodiversity. If this concept is embraced and practitioners are supported and championed, there is potential for rapid advances that are desperately needed to conserve and restore freshwater ecosystems and biodiversity.
... Whilst recent efforts are encouraging and supporting longterm and large-scale monitoring programs that integrate scientist at the continental level, they are still scarce (Canonico et al., 2019 and references therein). This could be due, at least in part, to the difficulties of finding methodologies that are both scientifically robust, practically achievable and logistically inexpensive in order for it to be accessible and feasible to a wider range of potential participants (Stephenson et al., 2017). The method employed here complies with all the above mentioned attributes and is therefore suggested for use in long-term and broad-scale monitoring programs such as MBON P2P. ...
Article
Full-text available
Identifying susceptible regions where biodiversity changes occur at fast rates is essential in order to protect and ameliorate affected areas. Large-scale coastal monitoring programs that focus on long-term variability are scarce, yet the Marine Biodiversity Observation Network Pole to Pole is currently developing a regional collaboration throughout the American continent collecting biodiversity data in coastal habitats with a standardized systematic protocol. The use of photographic methods to collect assemblage data on intertidal rocky shores can be appropriate. The goal of this study was to analyze the performance of a simple, low-cost, non-destructive and low-tech photographic method on a broad geographical scale (∼ 2,000 km) of Atlantic Patagonian coastline. Concurrently, we aimed to identify indicators whose cover, presence or condition can be followed in time and used as beacons of change in biodiversity on these rocky intertidal shores. We also explored the potential relationships between assemblage structure and environmental variables, such as seascape classes. We identified and propose cover of mytilids, Corallina spp. and bare substrate as indicators of change due to their ecological relevance in intertidal assemblages and their visible and rapid response to human stressors or changes in environmental conditions. Finally, we illustrate the practicality and usefulness of remotely accessible environmental data, for instance the seascape classes approach as an integrative tool for large-scale rocky shore studies.
... Overall, the relatively small percentage of articles based on open presence-only data corroborates a growing sentiment from Data gaps can be filled through both novel data collection and mobilization of existing data that are not yet openly accessible. Many large pools of data exist outside the open data infrastructure-for example, in government agencies and private organizations (Stephenson et al. 2017, Wetzel et al. 2018. Identifying these sources of data, supporting policies and infrastructure that facilitate their access and reuse, and incentivizing data sharing at an institutional level is needed to facilitate more open access to these data (Voříšek et al. 2018). ...
Article
Full-text available
Presence-only biodiversity data are increasingly relied on in biodiversity, ecology, and conservation research, driven by growing digital infrastructures that support open data sharing and reuse. Recent reviews of open biodiversity data have clearly documented the value of data sharing, but the extent to which the biodiversity research community has adopted open data practices remains unclear. We address this question by reviewing applications of presence-only primary biodiversity data, drawn from a variety of sources beyond open databases, in the indexed literature. We characterize how frequently researchers access open data relative to data from other sources, how often they share newly generated or collated data, and trends in metadata documentation and data citation. Our results indicate that biodiversity research commonly relies on presence-only data that are not openly available and neglects to make such data available. Improved data sharing and documentation will increase the value, reusability, and reproducibility of biodiversity research.
... This literature emphasizes that to enable effective knowledge exchange, evidence and evidence producers need to be, or be perceived as, salient (relevant and timely), credible and legitimate (Cash et al. 2003;, free from bias and trustworthy (Turner et al. 2016;Cvitanovic et al. 2021). Evidence must therefore generally meet the conditions of being relevant, timely and useable for environmental managers to make informed decisions about pressing issues which require urgent action (Fazey et al. 2005;Laurance et al. 2012;Rose 2015;Stephenson et al. 2017;Kadykalo et al. 2020). Scientists are not free of value judgements (Pielke 2007;Adams & Sandbrook 2013), and the perceived characteristics of evidence and evidence producers as politicized, distorted, or biased may also foster low trust and skepticism in the evidence-base or that the information is communicated faithfully (Pielke 2002;Young et al. 2016b;Nguyen et al. 2018). ...
Thesis
Full-text available
Wildlife managers are faced with decisions and issues that are increasingly complex, spanning natural and human dimensions. A strong evidence base that includes multiple forms and sources of knowledge would support these complex decisions. However, a growing body of literature demonstrates that environmental managers are far more likely to draw on intuition, experience, or opinion to inform important decisions rather than empirical evidence. In 2018, I interviewed members from natural resource management branches of Indigenous (n = 4) and parliamentary (n = 33) governments, as well as nongovernmental stakeholder groups (n = 28) involved in wildlife management and conservation in British Columbia, Canada. I set out to: assess how interviewees perceive and use western-based scientific, Indigenous and local knowledge and the extent to which socio-economic and political considerations challenge the integration of evidence [Chapter 2]; examine perceptions on the current and future status of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) populations and fisheries [Chapter 3] (supplemented with n = 1029 online survey responses from rainbow trout anglers); and identify perceived benefits and existing barriers supporting or limiting the use of a particular type of evidence, conservation genomics [Chapter 4]. Then in 2019, I facilitated fuzzy cognitive mapping workshops with n = 12 participants from four groups of fisheries managers, detailing their perceptions on the evidence influencing freshwater fish and fisheries decisions [Chapter 5]. Collectively, this research suggests that wildlife management issues and decisions are time-sensitive and value-laden. Interviewees relied heavily on personal contacts with internal colleagues and institutional information to inform decisions and practices. Evidence which may influence decisions is within a closed social network, centralized to a handful of decision-making organizations and their partners. A lack of time and information overload were major barriers to external evidence use. A lack of trust and hesitancy to share were major barriers to Indigenous and local knowledge use. Abundant environmental evidence may not be immediately ‘actionable’ and relevant to known problems faced by decision-makers due in part to poor communication and dissemination. Participants perceived a diminishing role of evidence in decisions due to increases in socio-economic and political influence that may supersede conservation.
Article
Full-text available
The world is firmly cemented in a notitian age (Latin: notitia, meaning data) – drowning in data, yet thirsty for information and the synthesis of knowledge into understanding. As concerns over biodiversity declines escalate, the volume, diversity and speed at which new environmental and ecological data are generated has increased exponentially. Data availability primes the research and discovery engine driving biodiversity conservation. South Africa (SA) is poised to become a world leader in biodiversity conservation. However, continent-wide resource limitations hamper the establishment of inclusive technologies and robust platforms and tools for biodiversity informatics. In this perspectives piece, we bring together the opinions of 37 co-authors from 20 different departments, across 10 SA universities, 7 national and provincial conservation research agencies, and various institutes and private conservation, research and management bodies, to develop a way forward for biodiversity informatics in SA. We propose the development of a SA Biodiversity Informatics Hub and describe the essential components necessary for its design, implementation and sustainability. We emphasise the importance of developing a culture of cooperation, collaboration and interoperability among custodians of biodiversity data to establish operational workflows for data synthesis. However, our biggest challenges are misgivings around data sharing and multidisciplinary collaboration. We recommend a system that is free, user friendly, functional, stable, integrative and designed to cater for different data access agreement levels. Sharing data through this pipeline will directly advance the science and practice of conservation, giving multiple stakeholders and decision-makers access to valuable biodiversity data to support research and biodiversity conservation.
Preprint
Full-text available
This third iteration of the Amphibian Conservation Action Plan (ACAP) is the result of ~three-years of collaboration between dozens of people and organizations. It is my hope it will serve as useful guidelines as we move forward abating amphibian extinctions. Note: This is peer-reviewed yet not the final draft for publication. I thank the IUCN, SSC, ASG and all of my co authors and anonymous reviewers for their input in producing this work.
Chapter
India is known to have a vivid array of forests from the rainforests in Kerala to the alpine pastures in Ladakh and the desert pastures in Rajasthan to the evergreen forests situated in the north-east. Numerous parameters determine the type of forest such as climate, soil type, elevation and topography. Forests are categorized into diverse types based on the type of climate in which they are found, their nature and composition and their relationship with the surrounding environment. According to ISFR (2019), the total forest and tree cover of the country accounts for about 24.56% of the geographical area, which is 80.73 million hectares. 99,278 sq.km is covered by very dense forest, 3, 08,472 sq.km area is covered by moderately dense forest and 3,04,499 sq.km area is covered by open forest. According to the assessment in ISFR 2019, there was an observed upsurge of 5188 sq.km in the area covered by forest and tree cover combined, at the national level, as compared to the assessment carried out earlier in 2017. There was an upsurge in the area covered by overall forest and tree cover at the national level, but there was a decrease in the forest area in the country’s north-east region as emphasized in the report. It was also observed that Arunachal Pradesh had maximum species richness in terms of trees, shrubs and herbs followed by Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Champion and Seth (A revised survey of the forest types of India. Govt. of India Publication, New Delhi, 1968) have used temperature and rainfall data for the classification of Indian forests into five major forest types and 16 minor forest types and more than 200 subgroups. In India, the major forest type groups are tropical semi-evergreen, tropical moist deciduous, littoral and swamp, tropical dry deciduous, tropical thorn, sub-tropical broad-leaved hill forests, sub-tropical dry evergreen, Himalayan moist and dry temperate, sub-alpine, montane wet temperate moist alpine scrub and dry alpine scrub. The tropical moist littoral and swamp forests of Sundarbans are constituted by mangroves. Mangroves are salt-tolerant plant communities that inhabit tropical and sub-tropical intertidal regions of the world and have developed into a good habitat for tigers. Though the diversity of forest resources in India is remarkable, the status of deterioration of these resources should also be monitored. The primary causing serious threats include loss of forest cover due to shifting cultivation, illegal felling, conversion of forest lands for urban expansion and other biotic pressures. Illegitimate cutting of trees has impacted the climatic conditions at a micro-level. It has affected the soil quality, hydrological cycle and biodiversity of the country, thus making the country more exposed to natural calamities and climate change. Most forests are under threat due to strong anthropogenic pressure, extensively due to collection of fuel wood and livestock grazing. Effective management strategies that take into account restoration and also promote judicious use of forest resources would ensure sustainability in the long run.KeywordsForest resourcesForest lossConservationForest typesMangroves
Article
Full-text available
The paper explored and highlighted evolving science, technologies, current improvements, and emerging techniques that are being employed to protect species diversity and their ecological structures in relation to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 14 and 15. A desktop review of literature on protection of species diversity and ecological structure was conducted. For the desktop review, Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) framework was used in searching for and analyzing the literature between 2015 and 2021 year. The study identified ‘‘Robotic jelly fish’’, ‘‘Biobag’’, environmental Deoxyribonucleic Acid (eDNA), use of drones to plant trees, remote sensing, and Geographic Information System (GIS), automated bioacoustics, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Green list technologies, artificial intelligence and anti-poaching transmitters as some recent technologies employed towards the achievement of SDG 14 and 15. Species diversity and ecological structures are important for nature conservation and human well-being; hitherto human knowledge is inadequate on the overall condition of species diversity and ecological structure and its threats. Finally, to enhance conservation of this threating loss, technology should be advanced to attain SDG 14 and 15.
Article
Full-text available
The coastal forests of Kenya are global biodiversity hotspots known for rich plant diversity and endemism. They exist as fragmented forest islands, and their current conservation status and quantitative trends in plant diversity are understudied. We investigated these knowledge gaps by providing a comprehensive literature review and comparing to field data collected using standardized sampling protocol. Our goals were to build a robust basis for future analyses, biodiversity monitoring, and to understand the role of fragment area in determining species richness. We recorded a total of 937 woody species belonging to 88 families in 30 forest patches from reviewed and sampled data. Species richness per site from literature review was affected by biases in data scarcity, forest size and variation in sampling methods. In general, large forests reserves of Shimba hills and Arabuko exhibited a high number of cumulative species compared to smaller forest patches. Species-area relationship showed a significant proportion of species richness per forest was determined by forest area, according to Arrhenius model. This study is the first to review forest patch woody plant species diversity knowledge gaps in the coastal forests of Kenya, and the resulting comparison provides the first quantitative overview and foundation of these forests.
Article
• The identification and development of locally significant conservation actions require comprehensive and current ecological species information. Logistically this can be difficult, especially when studying rare and cryptic species which are at greater risk of becoming extinct. This study investigated the current distribution and density of the estuarine pipefish Syngnathus watermeyeri, the only Critically Endangered pipefish in the world, and the commonly found longsnout pipefish Syngnathus temminckii. • Pipefish were surveyed using a seine net in the Kariega, Bushmans, Kasouga and Kleinemonde East and West estuaries, located on the south coast of South Africa, in October 2019, March 2020 and July 2020. The habitat and physico-chemical characteristics of each site were measured to determine whether these factors had an effect on the presence of S. watermeyeri. In addition, available habitat extent within the Bushmans and Kariega estuaries was mapped. • Pipefish were only detected in two of the five estuaries within the historical range of S. watermeyeri and a total of 59 S. watermeyeri and 45 S. temminckii were found across all three surveys. Zostera capensis and Codium sp. were the dominant submerged vegetation within the Bushmans and Kariega estuaries and the presence of pipefish was positively associated with the availability of vegetation, especially Codium sp. • This is the most extensive targeted survey for S. watermeyeri to date, both temporally and spatially, and provides important insights into what threatens this species. This information should be used to inform future IUCN Red List assessments and the development of locally significant conservation actions.
Article
Full-text available
Species interactions are a key aspect of evolutionary biology. Parasites, specifically, are drivers of the evolution of species communities and impact biosecurity and public health. However, when using interaction networks for evolutionary studies, interdependencies between distantly related species in these networks are shaped by ancient and complex processes. We propose using recent interacting host-parasite radiations, e.g. African cichlid fishes and cichlid gill parasites belonging to Cichlidogyrus (Dactylogyridae, Monogenea), as macroevolutionary model of species interactions. The cichlid-Cichlido-gyrus network encompasses 138 parasite species and 416 interactions identified through morphological characteristics and genetic markers in 160 publications. We discuss the steps required to develop this model system based on data resolution, sampling bias, and reporting quality. In addition, we propose the following steps to guide efforts for a macroevolution-ary model system for species interactions: first, evaluating and expanding model system outcome measures to increase data resolution; second, closing knowledge gaps to address underreporting and sampling bias arising from limited human and financial
Article
Full-text available
Africa has experienced unprecedented growth across a range of development indices for decades. However, this growth is often at the expense of Africa’s biodiversity and ecosystems, jeopardizing the livelihoods of millions of people depending on the goods and services provided by nature, with broader consequences for achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Encouragingly, Africa can still take a more sustainable path. Here, we synthesize the key learnings from the African Ecological Futures project. We report results from a participatory scenario planning process around four collectively-owned scenarios and narratives for the evolution of Africa’s ecological resource base over the next 50 years. These scenarios provided a lens to review pressures on the natural environment, through the drivers, pressures, state, impacts, and responses (DPSIR) framework. Based on the outcomes from each of these steps, we discuss opportunities to reorient Africa’s development trajectories towards a sustainable path. These opportunities fall under the broad categories of “effective natural resource governance”, “strategic planning capabilities”, “investment safeguards and frameworks”, and “new partnership models”. Underpinning all these opportunities are “data, management information, and decision support frameworks”. This work can help inform collaborative action by a broad set of actors with an interest in ensuring a sustainable ecological future for Africa.
Article
Full-text available
Many conservation projects have weak capacity to monitor their target species and the threats they face, compromising adaptive management. We assessed 74 vertebrate and plant conservation projects worldwide that were supported by the SOS-Save Our Species Programme (now IUCN Save Our Species) during 2012-2015. Our aim was to determine how and where monitoring efforts were fo-cused, identify trends in data availability and make recommendations for improvement. Project managers reported more of a decrease in threats (73%) and improved habitat conditions (68%) than positive population changes (19%), primarily because of the focus of their objectives and limited time to collect population data. More population data were collected on reptiles and amphibians than mammals and birds, contrary to global trends. This probably reflects a greater focus of mammal and bird projects on improving habitats or reducing threats. There were geographical differences in data availability. Lessons learnt that could be applied to future project portfolios include: a common strategic framework should be developed, along with a set of common indicators against which projects can align and demonstrate their contributions; more guidance and capacity building support should be provided to grantees; and a greater allocation of project budgets should be dedicated to monitoring.
Article
Full-text available
Life history strategies are fundamental to the ecology and evolution of organisms and are important for understanding extinction risk and responses to global change. Using global datasets and a multiple response modelling framework we show that trait‐climate interactions are associated with life history strategies for a diverse range of plant species at the global scale. Our modelling framework informs our understanding of trade‐offs and positive correlations between elements of life history after accounting for environmental context and evolutionary and trait‐based constraints. Interactions between plant traits and climatic context were needed to explain variation in age at maturity, distribution of mortality across the lifespan and generation times of species. Mean age at maturity and the distribution of mortality across plants’ lifespan were under evolutionary constraints. These findings provide empirical support for the theoretical expectation that climatic context is key to understanding trait to life history relationships globally. Life history strategies are fundamental to the ecology and evolution of organisms and are important for understanding extinction risk and responses to global change. Using global datasets and a multiple response modelling framework we show that the relationship between plant traits and life history strategies depend on climatic and evolutionary contexts, for a diverse range of species at the global scale.
Article
Full-text available
1. Colombia with 1941 known recorded bird species is one of the most species rich countries in the world. Efforts are necessary to conserve, study and promote sustainable use of this important taxonomic group throughout Colombia’s vast territory. 2. In an ideal world, informed decisions that are based on sound scientific information should be likelier to have successful outcomes. Nevertheless, there are barriers that make it difficult to access and use information in a timely fashion. Those same barriers impede the study, conservation and sustainable use of bird species in Colombia. On the other hand, given that there is good documentation about the ecology of a large number of species, information about the distribution of birds can be easily incorporated into decision-making processes, once this information becomes readily available in a consumable format using Geographic Information Sciences tools. 3. In this context, the main objective of this paper is to present the first compilation of the current distribution of 1889 (97%) species of birds in Colombia, using expert criteria. The shapefiles were used to show the distribution and diversity of bird species in Colombia under both geopolitical and conservation geographic units. 4. The information provided in this paper can be used as a baseline for a huge number of initiatives that aim to strengthen conservation efforts and improve knowledge about one the most unique taxonomic groups in the country. These range from land use planning strategies at the municipal or department scale to sustainable use of bird species - such as those initiatives related to bird watching - in Colombia. This study has considered three key aspects: 1) the importance of birds for Colombia’s ecosystems, 2) the privileged place of Colombia in bird species richness and 3) the importance of data mobilisation in formats easily consumable by Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to facilitate the processes of informed decision-making. We present the first compilation - in shapefile format - for 1889 of the 1941 bird species recorded from Colombia. Using this novel collection, we showed the species richness of birds in Colombia’s 33 Departments plus its Captial District (DPs), 1122 Municipalities (MNs), 58 protected areas (PAs), 39 Regional Autonomous Corporations (the authorities responsible within their respective jurisdictions for regulating the environment and renewable natural resources in Colombia; CARs) and 916 Collectively Titled Territories (including both indigenous reservations and afro-descendant communities; CTTs). In addition, we provide a list of known bird species richness for the above geographic units found in the available literature. The information provided here can be used as a baseline for a huge number of initiatives concerning the study, conservation and sustainable use of bird species present in Colombia, providing access to key features of bird distribution that should facilitate decision-making.
Article
Protected areas play a paramount role in counteracting the negative effects of human activity on the environment. Without good management effectiveness they might not be able to fulfill their mission. The tools for management effectiveness assessments that are currently most widely used struggle to provide sufficient depth of analysis, present the situation with sufficient breadth of indicators, provide necessary objectivity in identifying challenges during the assessment, and suggesting possible paths for improvement. The Integrated Management Effectiveness Tool (IMET), a novel tool for management effectiveness, is introduced in the article. The purpose of the article is to show that IMET offers instruments for a more in-depth analysis when compared to other protected areas management effectiveness assessment methodologies. Furthermore, the article demonstrates how the introduction of instruments that aid in decision-making and encourage a results-oriented approach can be particularly beneficial in enhancing managerial effectiveness. Additionally, it is asserted that IMET enhances planning and monitoring by incorporating the necessary components into a system of Planning, Monitoring, and Evaluation. IMET has been tested in the field. Ten protected areas from Central Africa (CA) were selected and the tool demonstrated good properties in discriminating between well-performing protected areas and those with a room for improvement. The initial results have pointed to challenges in the management effectiveness dimensions of inputs and process that the studied protected areas are facing. In the long-run IMET is expected to support transition from merely routine management to results-oriented management of protected areas.
Article
Full-text available
The 2010 biodiversity target agreed by signatories to the Convention on Biological Diversity directed the attention of conservation professionals toward the development of indicators with which to measure changes in biological diversity at the global scale. We considered why global biodiversity indicators are needed, what characteristics successful global indicators have, and how existing indicators perform. Because monitoring could absorb a large proportion of funds available for conservation, we believe indicators should be linked explicitly to monitoring objectives and decisions about which monitoring schemes deserve funding should be informed by predictions of the value of such schemes to decision making. We suggest that raising awareness among the public and policy makers, auditing management actions, and informing policy choices are the most important global monitoring objectives. Using four well-developed indicators of biological diversity (extent of forests, coverage of protected areas, Living Planet Index, Red List Index) as examples, we analyzed the characteristics needed for indicators to meet these objectives. We recommend that conservation professionals improve on existing indicators by eliminating spatial biases in data availability, fill gaps in information about ecosystems other than forests, and improve understanding of the way indicators respond to policy changes. Monitoring is not an end in itself, and we believe it is vital that the ultimate objectives of global monitoring of biological diversity inform development of new indicators.
Article
Full-text available
Knowledge products comprise assessments of authoritative information supported by standards , governance, quality control, data, tools, and capacity building mechanisms.
Article
Full-text available
We studied the effectiveness of protected area management within a Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) priority place for conservation investment, located in the coastal areas of Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique. At least 473 sites in this region have completed Management Effectiveness Tracking Tool (METT) assessments since 2003, often associated with Global Environment Facility (GEF) funded projects, but also through work funded by other donors and WWF itself. We show that community managed reserves score higher using the METT tool when compared with sites managed by the state forest agencies. We situate this within the context of approaches to reserve management in Tanzania, where state-managed Forest Reserves have received little in terms of funding support and score lowest when compared with all other management types in Tanzania. Further, we show that slightly higher average METT scores for sites where WWF are working across Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique, when compared with all other sites, are most pronounced in elements of the METT tool relating to inputs, process and planning, and are not seen in outputs or outcomes. We discuss the utility of the METT tool for organisations like WWF to evaluate their impact in protected area management, including the issue of systematic bias in data recording (WWF facilitation of assessments) and that more time may be required to see the outcomes and impacts from any management improvements that have been achieved.
Article
Full-text available
The Aichi Biodiversity Targets of the United Nations’ Strategic Plan for Biodiversity set ambitious goals for protecting biodiversity from further decline. Increased efforts are urgently needed to achieve these targets by 2020. The availability of comprehensive, sound and up-to-date biodiversity data is a key requirement to implement policies, strategies and actions to address biodiversity loss, monitor progress towards biodiversity targets, as well as to assess the current status and future trends of biodiversity. Key gaps, however, remain in our knowledge of biodiversity and associated ecosystem services. These are mostly a result of barriers preventing existing data from being discoverable, accessible and digestible. In this paper, we describe what regional Biodiversity Observation Networks (BONs) can do to address these barriers using the European Biodiversity Observation Network (EU BON) as an example. We conclude that there is an urgent need for a paradigm shift in how biodiversity data are collected, stored, shared and streamlined in order to tackle the many sustainable development challenges ahead. We need a shift towards an integrative biodiversity information framework, starting from collection to the final interpretation and packaging of data. This is a major objective of the EU BON project, towards which progress is being made.
Article
Full-text available
If parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and their partners are to report effectively on progress against national, regional and global biodiversity conservation goals, data will need to be collected at multiple levels. Global data sets, many gathered using remote sensing, offer partial solutions but need to be complemented by field-level observations to provide the resolution necessary to track conservation measures in a meaningful way. This paper summarises efforts made by the conservation organisation WWF, working with partners, to integrate 10 indicators of relevance to CBD parties into its global monitoring system and to use global data sets and data from field programmes to determine progress against multi-level goals and to assess programme performance and impacts. Integration of in-situ and ex-situ data into reporting dashboards tailored to WWF’s needs allowed some degree of assessment of progress and adaptive management of the programme portfolio. Indicator trends were most favourable (on track) for protected area (PA) coverage and market share of sustainable commodities, and least favourable (worsening) for species offtake, species populations, wildlife trade, habitat fragmentation and Ecological Footprint. The most useful indicators – which could be disaggregated to provide trends at local levels relevant to WWF field programmes – were species populations, habitat cover and fragmentation, PA coverage and PA management effectiveness. However challenges remain if local and global monitoring objectives are to be aligned, including the need for increased collection of data by field projects, improved harmonisation of indicators, and greater sharing of data in formats of use to practitioners. We advocate wider adoption by governments and civil society organisations of indicators with the dual function of tracking delivery of CBD Aichi Targets as well as monitoring national, regional and ecoregional level conservation programmes, and urge more NGOs and academic bodies to support capacity building and data collection.
Article
Full-text available
Camera traps can be used to address large-scale questions in community ecology by providing systematic data on an array of wide-ranging species. We deployed 225 camera traps across 1,125 km(2) in Serengeti National Park, Tanzania, to evaluate spatial and temporal inter-species dynamics. The cameras have operated continuously since 2010 and had accumulated 99,241 camera-trap days and produced 1.2 million sets of pictures by 2013. Members of the general public classified the images via the citizen-science website www.snapshotserengeti.org. Multiple users viewed each image and recorded the species, number of individuals, associated behaviours, and presence of young. Over 28,000 registered users contributed 10.8 million classifications. We applied a simple algorithm to aggregate these individual classifications into a final 'consensus' dataset, yielding a final classification for each image and a measure of agreement among individual answers. The consensus classifications and raw imagery provide an unparalleled opportunity to investigate multi-species dynamics in an intact ecosystem and a valuable resource for machine-learning and computer-vision research.
Article
Full-text available
The central challenge of the 21st century is to develop economic, social, and governance systems capable of ending poverty and achieving sustainable levels of population and consumption while securing the life-support systems underpinning current and future human well-being. Essential to meeting this challenge is the incorporation of natural capital and the ecosystem services it provides into decision-making. We explore progress and crucial gaps at this frontier, reflecting upon the 10 y since the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. We focus on three key dimensions of progress and ongoing challenges: raising awareness of the interdependence of ecosystems and human well-being, advancing the fundamental interdisciplinary science of ecosystem services, and implementing this science in decisions to restore natural capital and use it sustainably. Awareness of human dependence on nature is at an all-time high, the science of ecosystem services is rapidly advancing, and talk of natural capital is now common from governments to corporate boardrooms. However, successful implementation is still in early stages. We explore why ecosystem service information has yet to fundamentally change decision-making and suggest a path forward that emphasizes: (i) developing solid evidence linking decisions to impacts on natural capital and ecosystem services, and then to human well-being; (ii) working closely with leaders in government, business, and civil society to develop the knowledge, tools, and practices necessary to integrate natural capital and ecosystem services into everyday decision-making; and (iii) reforming institutions to change policy and practices to better align private short-term goals with societal long-term goals.
Article
Full-text available
The Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessments program (GLISA) has led the co-development of usable climate information for decision-making in several case study projects. Although each case study is with a unique partnering organization made up of different stakeholders with varying information needs and capabilities, several patterns have emerged that GLISA has identified and overcome to advance the practice of applied climate information. There are three main barriers that GLISA encounters at the onset of many of the case studies: 1) mismatched terminology used by scientists and stakeholders to describe the types of information that are available and needed for problem solving (translation); 2) unrealistic expectations regarding the development of climate information products for problem solving; and 3) disordered integration of when stakeholders want to bring climate information into decision-making processes. Although some or all of these barriers are likely to exist at the onset of any new climate information partnership, GLISA has developed methods for overcoming them more quickly so that the process of co-developing usable climate information is more efficient and effective. In this paper we describe in detail GLISA’s experiences that have led to the realization of these barriers and the steps GLISA has taken to overcome them. We also relate these barriers to literature on the “usability gap” between climate science and information use in decision-making as well as uncertainty cascades in climate change adaptation. These experiences demonstrate that climate scientists performing outreach experience similar struggles as the stakeholders they interact with. However, they also reveal potential for other climate-centered boundary organizations to cultivate their own capacities to overcome these challenges in their partnerships.
Article
Full-text available
The limited understanding of how ecosystem service knowledge (ESK) is used in decision making constrains our ability to learn from, replicate, and convey success stories. We explore use of ESK in decision making in three international cases: national coastal planning in Belize; regional marine spatial planning on Vancouver Island, Canada; and regional land- use planning on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. Decision makers, scientists, and stakeholders collaborated in each case to use a standardized ecosystem service accounting tool to inform spatial planning. We evaluate interview, survey, and observation data to assess evidence of `conceptual', `strategic', and `instrumental' use of ESK. We find evidence of all modes: conceptual use dominates early planning, while strategic and instrumental uses occur iteratively in middle and late stages. Conceptual and strategic uses of ESK build understanding and compromise that facilitate instrumental use. We highlight attributes of ESK, characteristics of the process, and general conditions that appear to affect how knowledge is used. Meaningful participation, scenario development, and integration of local and traditional knowledge emerge as important for particular uses.
Article
Full-text available
Satellite remote sensing is an important tool for monitoring the status of biodiversity and associated environmental parameters, including certain elements of habitats. However, satellite data are currently underused within the biodiversity research and conservation communities. Three factors have significant impact on the utility of remote sensing data for tracking and understanding biodiversity change. They are its continuity, affordability, and access. Data continuity relates to the maintenance of long-term satellite data products. Such products promote knowledge of how biodiversity has changed over time and why. Data affordability arises from the cost of the imagery. New data policies promoting free and open access to government satellite imagery are expanding the use of certain imagery but the number of free and open data sets remains too limited. Data access addresses the ability of conservation biologists and biodiversity researchers to discover, retrieve, manipulate, and extract value from satellite imagery as well as link it with other types of information. Tools are rapidly improving access. Still, more cross-community interactions are necessary to strengthen ties between the biodiversity and remote sensing communities. (C) 2014 Published by Elsevier Ltd.
Article
Full-text available
Recognizing the imperiled status of biodiversity and its benefit to human well-being, the world's governments committed in 2010 to take effective and urgent action to halt biodiversity loss through the Convention on Biological Diversity's “Aichi Targets”. These targets, and many conservation programs, require monitoring to assess progress toward specific goals. However, comprehensive and easily understood information on biodiversity trends at appropriate spatial scales is often not available to the policy makers, managers, and scientists who require it. We surveyed conservation stakeholders in three geographically diverse regions of critical biodiversity concern (the Tropical Andes, the African Great Lakes, and the Greater Mekong) and found high demand for biodiversity indicator information but uneven availability. To begin to address this need, we present a biodiversity “dashboard” – a visualization of biodiversity indicators designed to enable tracking of biodiversity and conservation pe
Article
Full-text available
Making decisions informed by the best-available science is an objective for many organisations managing the environment or natural resources. Yet, available science is still not widely used in environmental policy and practice. We describe a ‘4S’ hierarchy for organising relevant science to inform decisions. This hierarchy has already revolutionised clinical practice. It is beginning to emerge for environmental management, although all four levels need substantial development before environmental decision-makers can reliably and efficiently find the evidence they need. We expose common bypass routes that currently lead to poor or biased representation of scientific knowledge. We argue that the least developed level of the hierarchy is that closest to decision-makers, placing synthesised scientific knowledge into environmental decision support systems.
Article
Full-text available
Policy-makers are paying increasing attention to ecosystem services, given improved understanding that they underpin human well-being, and following their integration within the Aichi Targets of the Convention on Biological Diversity. Decision-makers need information on trends in biodiversity and ecosystem services but tools for assessing the latter are often expensive, technically demanding and ignore the local context. In this study we used a simple, replicable participatory assessment approach to gather information on ecosystem services at important sites for biodiversity conservation in Nepal, to feed into local and national decision-making. Through engaging knowledge-able stakeholders we assessed the services delivered by Nepal's 27 Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas, the pressures affecting services through impacts on land cover and land use, and the consequences of these for people. We found that these sites provide ecosystem services to beneficiaries at a range of scales but under current pressures the balance of services will change, with local communities incurring the greatest costs. The approach provided valuable information on the trade-offs between ecosystem services and between different people, developed the capacity of civil society to engage in decision-making at the local and national level, and provided digestible information for Nepal's government. We recommend this approach in other countries where there is a lack of information on the likely impacts of land-use change on ecosystem services and people.
Article
Full-text available
The rapid global growth of conservation schemes designed to incentivize local communities to conserve natural resources has placed new importance on biological monitoring to assess whether agreements and targets linked to payments are being met. To evaluate competence in natural resource monitoring, we compared data on status and trends collected independently by local-community members and trained scientists for 63 taxa and five types of resource use in 34 tropical forest sites across four countries over 2.5 years. We hypothesized that the results would vary according to differences in the education and value systems of the monitors. We found that, despite considerable differences in countries, cultures, and the types of natural resources monitored, the community members and the scientists produced similar results for the status of and trends in species and natural resources. Our findings highlight the potential value of locally based natural resource monitoring for conservation decisionmaking across developing countries. © 2014 The Author(s) 2014. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Institute of Biological Sciences. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please e-mail: [email protected] /* */
Article
Full-text available
Although the geographical context of ecological observations shapes ecological theory, the global distribution of ecological studies has never been analyzed. Here, we document the global distribution and context (protected status, biome, anthrome, and net primary productivity) of 2573 terrestrial study sites reported in recent publications (2004-2009) of 10 highly cited ecology journals. We find evidence of several geographical biases, including overrepresentation of protected areas, temperate deciduous woodlands, and wealthy countries. Even within densely settled or agricultural regions, ecologists tend to study "natural" fragments. Such biases in trendsetting journals may limit the scalability of ecological theory and hinder conservation efforts in the 75% of the terrestrial world where humans live and work.
Article
Full-text available
A better, more effective dialogue is needed between biodiversity science and policy to underpin the sustainable use and conservation of biodiversity. Many initiatives exist to improve communication, but these largely conform to a ‘linear’ or technocratic model of communication in which scientific “facts” are transmitted directly to policy advisers to “solve problems”. While this model can help start a dialogue, it is, on its own, insufficient, as decision taking is complex, iterative and often selective in the information used. Here, we draw on the literature, interviews and a workshop with individuals working at the interface between biodiversity science and government policy development to present practical recommendations aimed at individuals, teams, organisations and funders. Building on these recommendations, we stress the need to: (a) frame research and policy jointly; (b) promote inter- and trans-disciplinary research and “multi-domain” working groups that include both scientists and policy makers from various fields and sectors; (c) put in place structures and incentive schemes that support interactive dialogue in the long-term. These are changes that are needed in light of continuing loss of biodiversity and its consequences for societal dependence on and benefits from nature.