New paper: a guide to representing variability and uncertainty in biodiversity indicators

Jessica Rowland

Biodiversity indicatorsare metrics that show how a specific part of biodiversity is changing. Common examples include the Red List Index showing average species extinction risk and the Living Planet Index showing average change in vertebrate species abundance.These tools are used to inform important decisions about policy, resource allocation and conservation efforts. The key message of an indicator must be clear so we can easily see and interpret the state of nature. We can present indicators as a single line that changes over time as the state of nature changes. But this simplification can obscure information thatmay affect our resulting conservation plans.

Red List Index of species survival for four groups of animals – corals, mammals, birds and amphibians. Source: IUCN

There are several things that are important to think about when choosing how to present indicators: the target audience, the information to show, and the traits of the indicator and…

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