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Good quality monitoring surveys key to wildlife conservation: new study

24 / 08 / 2017, Mongabaycom News

A biodiversity crisis is looming upon us. We are now in the middle of a “sixth great extinction” of animal species, scientists warn, with loss of species about 1,000 times higher than it would have been without human impact. Nearly every country in the world has committed to reducing the rate of loss of biodiversity under the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) 2010 and 2020 biodiversity targets. One of the first steps to achieving this is to understand the changes in animal and plant populations in the wild over time. However, population monitoring surveys are often poorly designed, scientists report in a new study published in Biological Conservation. And this could pose a serious challenge to halting species loss, they warn. “To understand the changes in biodiversity and develop conservation programs that will be suitable to mitigate or reverse the losses, it is critical to have good quality surveys that satisfy criteria to produce reliable trends in biodiversity,” Stephen Buckland of the Centre for Research into Ecological Environmental Modelling at the University of St Andrews, U.K., said in a statement. Asian small clawed otter. Photo by Rhett A. Butler. Well-designed surveys should satisfy five criteria, Buckland and Alison Johnston of Cornell Lab of Ornithology, New York, write in the paper. First, monitoring programs must choose sample locations that are representative of the region that the researchers are interested in and not biased towards particular habitats or locations. Second, conservation practitioners must sample a “sufficiently large” number of sites. Sampling too…

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