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Matching biodiversity indicators to policy needs

Stevenson, SL, Watermeyer, K, Caggiano, G, Fulton, EA, Ferrier, S and Nicholson, E 2020 , 'Matching biodiversity indicators to policy needs' , Conservation Biology , pp. 1-11 , doi: 10.1111/cobi.13575.

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At the global scale, biodiversity indicators are typically used to monitor general trends, but are rarely implemented with specific purpose or linked directly to decision making. Some indicators are better suited to predicting future change, others are more appropriate for evaluating past actions, but this is seldom made explicit. We developed a conceptual model for assigning biodiversity indicators to appropriate functions based on a common approach used in economics. Using the model, indicators can be classified as leading (indicators that change before the subject of interest, informing preventative actions), coincident (indicators that measure the subject of interest), or lagging (indicators that change after the subject of interest has changed and thus can be used to evaluate past actions). We classified indicators based on ecological theory on biodiversity response times and management objectives in 2 case studies: global species extinction and marine ecosystem collapse. For global species extinctions, indicators of abundance (eg, the Living Planet Index or biodiversity intactness index) were most likely to respond first, as leading indicators that inform preventative action, while extinction indicators were expected to respond slowly, acting as lagging indicators flagging the need for evaluation. For marine ecosystem collapse, indicators of direct responses to fishing were expected to be leading, while those measuring ecosystem collapse could be lagging. Classification defines an active role for indicators within the policy cycle, creates an explicit link to preventative decision-making, and supports preventative action.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Stevenson, SL and Watermeyer, K and Caggiano, G and Fulton, EA and Ferrier, S and Nicholson, E
Keywords: Aichi Targets, biodiversity indicators, Convention on Biological Diversity, ecosystem based fisheries management, extinction, IUCN red list index, population dynamics, sustainable development goals
Journal or Publication Title: Conservation Biology
Publisher: Blackwell Publishing Inc
ISSN: 0888-8892
DOI / ID Number: 10.1111/cobi.13575
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2020 Society for Conservation Biology

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