Selecting Indicators for Conservation Decision Making
Conservation and related policy decisions rely heavily on accurate monitoring and data analysis. However, for multispecies assemblages we are severely limited in our ability to measure all components of the system. The dynamicity and non-linear relationships within species assemblages often render community dynamics unpredictable. On the other hand, no single measurement can capture all underlying patterns and processes in an ecosystem. An alternative approach is to identify indicators that are capable of representing aspects of the system relevant to specific management objectives. Developing indices, which represent a network using indicator species or a trophic level, may make monitoring for ecosystem management considerably easier.
The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) indicators provide a means of assessing trends in the status, abundance or distribution of biodiversity. But these were not developed within the context of specific management objectives. Moreover, current knowledge on indicator performance in measuring responses of multispecies systems is limited. My research will address these limitations by:
- Identifying desirable characteristics of indicators for multi-species assemblages and proposing methods for their measurement.
- Developing ecosystem indices and assessing their performance for a range of management objectives.
- Developing approaches for applying the indices in policy formulation and decision making.