What is biodiversity?
Biodiversity is the variability among living organisms and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2005).Why do we need biodiversity surveys?
Biodiversity plays a key role on the provision of ecosystem services, through underpinning ecosystem processes and also as a final good or service in its own right (Mace et al. 2012). However biodiversity, and in particular from freshwater systems, continues to be lost at an unprecedented rate (Dudgeon et al. 2006, Hoffman et al. 2010). As biodiversity declines or disappears from wetlands the benefits to people are degraded or lost, often impacting the poorest communities most. Despite this the development of wetlands across the world usually focus on a limited number of goals, such as the provision of water for drinking, irrigation and hydropower in order to meet the Millennium Development Goals, and ignore the impact to biodiversity and therefore other ecosystem services. Therefore it is critical that biodiversity is built into any wetland assessments and management plan.
Through the identification of the biodiversity (species) that are present within wetlands, you can better:
- Identify which species are important to livelihoods (through direct use and other ecosystem services). Often biodiversity is generalised into broad categories such as ‘fish’ or ‘plants’.
- Develop conservation or sustainable use management plans as species often need to be the target of actions/management, as each species may require different conservation measures depending on their biological requirements and life histories.
- Identify the conservation status of biodiversity at the site
- Monitor the impacts of conservation and sustainable use management plans, through using relevant species indicators
There are a number of steps in planning and undertaking a biodiversity assessment, shown in the flow chart below (see figure 1). The tools in this section of the toolkit (mostly taken from Allen 2009) provides guidance on planning and conducting biodiversity surveys, species specific sampling methods, assessment of threats and conservation status of biodiversity, and alternative methods for biodiversity assessment.
The tools in this section of the toolkit (taken from Allen 2009) provides guidance on planning and conducting biodiversity surveys, species specific sampling methods, assessment of threats and conservation status of biodiversity, and alternative methods for biodiversity assessment.
Allen, D. et al. 2009. In: O. Springate-Baginski, D. Allen, D. and W.R.T. Darwall (eds.). An Integrated Wetland Assessment Toolkit: A guide to good practice. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN and Cambridge, UK: IUCN Species Programme. xv+144p
Dudgeon D, et al. 2006. Freshwater biodiversity: Importance, threats, status and conservation challenges. Biological Reviews 81: 163–182.
Hoffmann, M. et al., 2010. The impact of conservation on the status of the world’s vertebrates. Science 330(6010): 1503–1509.
Mace, G.M., Norris, K., Fitter, A.H., 2012. Biodiversity and ecosystem services: a multilayered relationship. Ecology 27(1): 19–26.
Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. 2005. Ecosystems and Human Well-being: Biodiversity Synthesis. World Resources Institute, Washington D.C.
|IWAT – Chapter 3. Biodiversity assessment tools (pdf)||This chapter of the IUCN IWAT provides practical guidelines and approaches for sampling biodiversity presence and abundance within freshwater wetlands. It also presents survey methods for some key freshwater taxa (fishes, plants, molluscs, and dragonflies)|
|Biodiversity assessment - training presentation (pdf)||Summarises the processes outlined in the IWAT for biodiversity assessments|
|Biodiversity data collection sheet (doc)||An example of a biodiversity survey data collection sheet. Using this (along with the survey techniques outlined in the IWAT chapter 3) will make sure that you collect the relevant information during your survey.|
|Red List training materials||This links to the IUCN Red List training material. Here you will find the Red List Categories & Criteria and guidelines on how to apply them, training presentations and an online training course.|
|Incorporating ecological knowledge – training presentation (pdf)||A brief presentation on the importance of local ecological knowledge and how to collect it.|
|Freshwater ecosystem services and biodiversity values of the Beijiang River China (pdf)||An example of the type of final output from applying the ecosystem services and biodiversity assessment methods above can be seen in the HighARCS report for the Beijiang River site in China. This report is also found in section 3.1 Project Outputs of the WRAP Toolkit.|