Y-2001 Targeted for International Biodiversity Observation

Network News Spring 1999, Vol. 12 No. 1

The year 2001 has been designated International Biodiversity Observation Year (IBOY). This project was initiated by DIVERSITAS, a program for the study of the science of biodiversity. Many activities planned for IBOY involve new science and innovative integration, as well as activities that will publicize the value of biodiversity to the general public.

Designing IBOY has revealed a large number of international biodiversity monitoring efforts, and the 2001 project could bring much-deserved attention to these efforts. Meanwhile it has become obvious that some aspects of biodiversity monitoring should be identified and highlighted for maximum effect. This examination also has raised questions regarding whether important measurements are being ignored, as well as where efforts might be duplicated.

Some of the issues to be addressed for the IBOY Project are:

  1. What are some of the questions related to monitoring?
  2. With so many differing temporal and spatial scales of interest to different groups, how do we answer these questions?
  3. What is the value, and what are the drawbacks of standardized methods for inter-site comparisons in relation to the questions 1 and 2?
  4. How can we link data sets and approaches, while much effort has been expended already for certain measurements)?
  5. How can we move forward in biodiversity monitoring considering the multiplicity of efforts, the lack of resources and frequent lack of political will?

This analysis could help strengthen biodiversity research, and in order to accomplish these goals, a three-day workshop was held 8-10 April 1999 at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS). The meeting was held to discuss the following:

  1. What international monitoring activities exist, and what they do
  2. Where are the gaps, and how we can optimize our current activities
  3. How can IBOY contribute to monitoring activities, and
  4. What needs to be done from the point of view of the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

Representatives from biodiversity-monitoring programs from all over the world presented their projects, which have been selected for IBOY, including:
Walter Reid
: The Millenum Assessment will offer a global assessment of ecosystems and translate it for policy makers, use it to make predictions on the state of biodiversity in the various existing ecosystems, identify gaps in predictions, and help build capacity of countries who have signed environmental conventions, focusing on the Biodiversity and Desertification Conventions. Scheduled launch: 2000.

Pep Canadell:Within the International Geosphere-Biosphere Project (IGBP), biodiversity is studied in the context of other global changes: Climate Change, Elevated CO2, N deposition and Land Use Changes. GCTE has established a partnership with DIVERSITAS to study the links between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. Within GCTE, the activities of two consortia and three new networks are directly relevant to biodiversity monitoring: the CO2 consortium, the recently established Soil Warming Consortium, the Species Removal experiment network, the Biological Invasions network and the Belowground Functional Groups network.

A project called FLUXNET is a network of long-term CO2, water vapor and energy measurement sites, which studies the metabolic diversity of terrestrial ecosystems, and documents the control of carbon and energy fluxes by climate, vegetation and substrate. Finally, The GLOBEC program of IGBP studies how global changes will affect marine ecosystems, and how this will feed back on the climate.

Fred Grassle: The main goals of the Ocean Biological Information System (OBIS), a project accepted for IBOY, are to capture individual datasets, produce a digital global data set and make the information available on the Web. OBIS will provide fish input to the Global Ocean Observing System.

MARS, another marine network, has the task to develop standards of protocols among the 75 U.S. marine labs to match data and integrate them.

Tohru Nakashizuka:The International Network for DIVERSITAS in Western Pacific and Asia plans to monitor biodiversity patterns along latitudinal and related gradients in relation to ecological functions on forest, lake and coastal ecosystems. Many field sites with common sampling methods have already been established. The results will constitute one of the main contributions of IBOY.

Jim Reichmann
:The Biodiversity Observation Network is a U.S. project with broad geographical and taxonomical rep-resentation, a set of minimum installations (GIS, GPS, climate and biogeochemical instrumentation, field facilities) and long-term funding. A first cohort of eight sites has established a common set of questions related to biodiversity. Other sites will be added to complete this initial network.

James Gosz: The Global Terrestrial Observing System (GTOS) was created to find data needed to monitor changes in terrestrial ecosystems, according to five priority themes: changes in land quality, availability of freshwater resources, loss of biodiversity, climate change, and pollution and toxicity. GTOS is not a research program, and until now, the main activity has been networking. GTOS is now starting the Global Net Primary Productivity (NPP) Demonstration Project, which is establishing mechanisms for contributing site data to a central archive and utilizing site capabilities to validate satellite imagery (MODIS). The US-LTER Network sites provide data on land cover, Leaf Area Index (LAI) and net primary productivity to the Network Office and the lab of Dr. Steven Running for validation of the MODIS imagery. In exchange, sites receive satellite imagery from GTOS. The overall goal of this pilot project is to give NASA the ability to obtain a correct land-cover data map.

A project for IBOY will look at the relationship between species richness and potential evapotranspiration, or species richness and primary productivity, how biodiversity could be characterized and measured at different hierarchical levels (community, landscape, region) and how this could be related to satellite imagery.

C. Wilkinson: The International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI), The Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN), and Coral Reef Check has 400 monitoring sites in 40 countries and involves public participation to simple monitoring activities. At the moment, no diversity map exists for coral reefs. One Coral Reef project has been accepted as an IBOY project.

M. Ruggiero:The Biosphere Reserve Integrated Monitoring Network (BRIM) includes 356 sites in 95 countries. The goals include improving access to existing data, promoting standardized and harmonized protocols for collecting and reporting data, and building communications among protected areas through the Internet.

ACCESS is the directory of the Biosphere Reserves . The Man and Biosphere (MAB)-UNESCO Flora and Fauna projects have conducted inventories within these reserves and are creating metadata bases. A project called BioMon is currently monitoring forest biodiversity with the SI/MAB protocol at 300 permanent forest plots in 40 countries. More on these projects can be found on the MAB Web site (http://ice.ucdavis.edu/mab).The MAB Flora and Fauna projects are involved in IBOY. Eight sites are both BRIM and LTER

D. Wake described the activities of the Declining Amphibian Task Force (DAPTF), chaired by Ron Heyer, at the Smithsonian Institution. This regional task force involves 125 groups, two of which are monitoring groups. The force also involves issue-specific groups (e.g. UV task force). DAPTF publishes a newsletter called "FrogLog." The problem of disappearing amphibians has local, regional and global implications. (e.g. disappearance of frogs in British Columbia, UV and global climate change).

The alarm about amphibians disappearance sounded because they were disappearing from National Parks (Yosemite, Sequoia, etc.). Various causes have been hypothesized: the use of pesticides and strong winds in the Central Valley of California, climate change and local drought episodes in South America (see Nature 1999), infectious diseases (Science 1999). Current monitoring efforts use baseline data established in 1912-1916.

There are 5,000 frog species and only 500 frog specialists, which implies that many species are not studied. Amphibia Web, a project accepted for IBOY, will develop an interactive web-based communication and database system covering the world’s amphibians (see http://elib.cs. berkeley.edu:8080/amphibians/). The goal is to make a definitive statement about every species of amphibian on the planet and to serve as a model project for global bio-diversity conservation efforts in other taxa.

C. Gascon presented the new Center for Applied Biodiversity Sciences at Conservation International (CI), which would like to be the leading resource center for governmental agencies, funding agencies, and funding institutions in field-tested solutions to biodiversity conservation.

In order to gain predictive capacity, a monitoring effort called the "Biodiversity Information System" is being initiated at a network of pre-existing sites, measuring the components of biodiversity, monitoring temporal and spatial dynamics of bio-diversity, and providing early warning of emerging threats to biodiversity. A common standard protocol is being designed. The core variables to be measured at each site include biomass, taxa abundance, and decomposition rate. Site-specific measurements as well as socioeconomic variables (e.g. population growth) will also be included in this Biodiversity Information System, which will allow CI to establish an Early Warning System.

M. Collins described the activities of the World Conservation Monitoring Center (WCMC). WCMC provides a number of services such as multimedia information service, training and education service and services to International Agreements available on the WCMC Web site (www. wcmc.org.uk). Examples of other typical WCMC activities include launching the IUCN Red List of Threatened Tpecies in 1997, which represents a systematic global assessment of species. Information can be obtained on the IUCN Web site (www. IUCN.org), and publishing World Mangrove Atlas, Reefs at Risk, and Diversity of the Seas—A Regional Approach that identifies the richest and most endangered marine areas of the world. WCMC also maintains a network of protected areas and published "The United Nations List of Protected Areas" in 1997. WCMC has been trying to establish links with BCIS, and would like to strengthen its link with UNEP in order to strengthen UNEP’s role in monitoring.

R. Barreto: The SSC of IUCN comprises six commissions, the largest being "The Species Survival Commission." The primary product of this Commission is the updating of the Red List of Threatened Species with WCMC). For more information about IBOY see the Web site www.csu.org/DIVERSITAS/Iboy/iboy_jj.html

This article was edited by Patricia Sprott, LTER Network Office, from meeting notes provided by Anne Larigauderie, .