Measuring changes in biodiversity

Our aims include optimal monitoring, assessing the threat status of ecosystems, and evaluating biodiversity indicators used at the global scale.

Evaluating global biodiversity indicators
We are performing some of the first rigorous evaluations of biodiversity indicators, including those recommended for use under the Convention on Biological Diversity. Much of this work is in collaboration with Ben Collen (UCL), EJ Milner-Gulland (Imperial College London), Mick McCarthy (QAECO, University of Melbourne), Beth Fulton (CSIRO), Simon Ferrier (CSIRO), and others. Biodiversity metrics are also used to aggregate data for quantifying the effects of scenarios and make planning decisions at local scales. Many of the metrics are similar to those used at regional and global levels. Projects include work by Chris Hallam (PhD student) on testing biodiversity metrics for local scale planning and scenario evaluation, in collaboration with Brendan Wintle (QAECO, University of Melbourne).

Photo: Hugh DaviesMonitoring biodiversity change at the site and landscape level
We work on optimal monitoring of threatened species in diverse landscapes. The aims of these projects vary from comparing monitoring methods (e.g. camera traps versus live trapping), assessing detectability, and optimal monitoring strategies. Current study systems include Wilson’s Prom and the Tiwi Islands.

Some relevant publications include:

  • Costelloe, B.T., Collen, B., Milner-Gulland, E.J., Craigie, I.D., McRae, L., Rondinini, C. & Nicholson, E. (2015) Global biodiversity indicators reflect the modelled impacts of protected area policy change. Conservation Letters, in press [link].
  • Collen B. & Nicholson E. (2014). Taking the measure of change. Science, 346, 166-167 [link]
  • Nicholson, E., Collen, B., Barausse, A., Blanchard, J. L., Costelloe, B. T., Sullivan, K. M. E., Underwood, F. M., Burn, R. W., Fritz, S., Jones, J. P. G., McRae, L., Possingham, H. P. & Milner-Gulland, E. J. (2012) Robust policy decisions with global biodiversity indicators. PLoS One, 7(7): e41128 [link]
  • Guillera-Arroita, G., Lahoz-Monfort, J.J., Milner-Gulland, E.J., Young, R.P. & Nicholson, E. (2010) Evaluating occupancy for monitoring the Critically Endangered Alaotran gentle lemur (Hapalemur alaotrensis). Endangered Species Research, 11:157-166 [link].
  • Jones J.P.G., Collen B., Atkinson G., Baxter P., Bubb P., Illian J., Katzner T., Keane A., Loh J., Macdonald-Madden E., Nicholson E., Pereira H., Possingham H.P., Pullin A., Rodrigues A.S.L., Viviana Ruiz-Gutierrez V., Sommerville M. & Milner-Gulland E.J. (2010). The why, what and how of global biodiversity indicators beyond the 2010 Target. Conservation Biology, 25, 450–457. [link]
  • Nicholson E. & H. P. Possingham (2006) Objectives for multiple species conservation planning. Conservation Biology 20 (3): 871-881. [link]