Effective ecosystem monitoring requires a multi-scaled approach

Sparrow, Ben D., Edwards, Will, Munroe, Samantha E.M., Wardle, Glenda M., Guerin, Greg R., Bastin, Jean-François, Morris, Beryl, Christensen, Rebekah, Phinn, Stuart, and Lowe, Andrew J. (2020) Effective ecosystem monitoring requires a multi-scaled approach. Biological Reviews, 95 (6). pp. 1706-1719.

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Ecosystem monitoring is fundamental to our understanding of how ecosystem change is impacting our natural resources and is vital for developing evidence-based policy and management. However, the different types of ecosystem monitoring, along with their recommended applications, are often poorly understood and contentious. Varying definitions and strict adherence to a specific monitoring type can inhibit effective ecosystem monitoring, leading to poor program development, implementation and outcomes. In an effort to develop a more consistent and clear understanding of ecosystem monitoring programs, we here review the main types of monitoring and recommend the widespread adoption of three classifications of monitoring, namely, targeted, surveillance and landscape monitoring. Landscape monitoring is conducted over large areas, provides spatial data, and enables questions relating to where and when ecosystem change is occurring to be addressed. Surveillance monitoring uses standardised field methods to inform on what is changing in our environments and the direction and magnitude of that change, whilst targeted monitoring is designed around testable hypotheses over defined areas and is the best approach for determining the causes of ecosystem change. The classification system is flexible and can incorporate different interests, objectives, targets and characteristics as well as different spatial scales and temporal frequencies, while also providing valuable structure and consistency across distinct ecosystem monitoring programs. To support our argument, we examine the ability of each monitoring type to inform on six key types of questions that are routinely posed for ecosystem monitoring programs, such as where and when change is occurring, what is the magnitude of change, and how can the change be managed? As we demonstrate, each type of ecosystem monitoring has its own strengths and weaknesses, which should be carefully considered relative to the desired results. Using this scheme, scientists and land managers can design programs best suited to their needs. Finally, we assert that for our most serious environmental challenges, it is essential that we include information from each of these monitoring scales to inform on all facets of ecosystem change, and this is best achieved through close collaboration between the scales. With a renewed understanding of the importance of each monitoring type, along with greater commitment to monitor cooperatively, we will be well placed to address some of our greatest environmental challenges.

Item ID: 64977
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1469-185X
Keywords: ecosystem monitoring, targeted monitoring, surveillance monitoring, landscape monitoring, ecological questions, environmental change, biodiversity monitoring, research infrastructure, collaboration, environmental monitoring
Copyright Information: © 2020 The Authors. Biological Reviews published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Cambridge Philosophical Society.This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited
Funders: Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN), National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS)
Date Deposited: 05 Nov 2020 02:18
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410402 Environmental assessment and monitoring @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960501 Ecosystem Assessment and Management at Regional or Larger Scales @ 100%
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