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SCALETOOL IntroductionDriversBiodiversityPolicies and managementConnectivity and protected areas
From species traits to dispersal distances Simulation of genetic data Population Viability Sex-biased dispersal Biodiversity scaling Perspectives for landscape scale management Conservation strategies at appropriate spatial scales
 

Biodiversity scaling for nature monitoring and conservation

Assessments of biodiversity depend on spatial scale. Here we outline implications for biodiversity monitoring and management.
Assessments of biodiversity depend on spatial scale (grain, resolution, extent). This dependence should be reflected by monitoring and conservation efforts. Specifically:
  1. Assessments of temporal declines or increases of biodiversity are impossible without explicit reference to scale. Biodiversity monitoring should combine local surveys with broad-scale local, country- and EU-wide assessments. Examples of problems that need special attention are: Measuring the effectiveness of EU agri-environment schemes, monitoring spread and numbers of invasive species, and monitoring trends in diversity of pollinator species.
  2. So far EU conservation policy has focused mostly on individual species and their numbers. We propose that it should also consider species turnover (beta diversity), which measures homogeneity or heterogeneity of species composition across space. Such heterogeneity at one scale is not necessarily maintained at coarser scales. Hence, if heterogeneity is to be promoted, it needs to be done at several scales. This could be achieved by a certain degree of contextualization, decentralization and asynchrony of conservation policies at regional and local administrative levels, as well as on the level of specific habitats and microhabitats.
  3. Sometimes there is conflict between increasing beta-diversity and maintaining regional species richness, and in these cases the conservation of species should take priority. Dispersal limitations play a major role in maintaining heterogeneity of species composition at broad scales, but in the face of climate change, species that cannot track suitable environmental conditions may eventually go extinct without adequate connectivity among habitat patches, or human assistance for translocation. In contrast, dispersal limitations and barriers may serve as protection against the spread of invasive species, and the resulting biotic homogenization. Thus connectivity of habitat patches should be promoted only with a good understanding of the spatial context.
Photo: Mathias Scholz, © UFZ Photo: Reinhard Klenke

Beta diversity does not depend on species number. One may find high values in species-rich areas, e.g., in Mediterranean regions (left), but also in species-poor areas, e.g. parts of Scandinavia (right).


References

David Storch, Petr Keil, William E. Kunin (2014) Scaling communities and biodiversity, pp. 66-77 In: Henle, K., Potts, S.G., Kunin, W.E., Matsinos, Y.G., Similä, J., Pantis, J.D., Grobelnik, V., Penev, L., Settele, S. (eds.): Scaling in Ecology and Biodiversity Conservation. Pensoft Publishers, Sofia.

Riccardo Bommarco, Lorenzo Marini (2014) Scaling of biodiversity change caused by land-use change, pp. 78-82. In: Henle, K., Potts, S.G., Kunin, W.E., Matsinos, Y.G., Similä, J., Pantis, J.D., Grobelnik, V., Penev, L., Settele, S. (eds.): Scaling in Ecology and Biodiversity Conservation. Pensoft Publishers, Sofia.
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