, Volume 25, Issue 5, pp 947-957
Date: 11 Aug 2010

Marshalling existing biodiversity data to evaluate biodiversity status and trends in planning exercises

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Abstract

A thorough understanding of biodiversity status and trends through time is necessary for decision-making at regional, national, and subnational levels. Information readily available in databases allows for development of scenarios of species distribution in relation to habitat changes. Existing species occurrence data are biased towards some taxonomic groups (especially vertebrates), and are more complete for Europe and North America than for the rest of the world. We outline a procedure for development of such biodiversity scenarios using available data on species distribution derived from primary biodiversity data and habitat conditions, and analytical software, which allows estimation of species’ distributions, and forecasting of likely effects of various agents of change on the distribution and status of the same species. Such approaches can translate into improved knowledge for countries regarding the 2010 Biodiversity Target of reducing significantly the rate of biodiversity loss—indeed, using methodologies such as those illustrated herein, many countries should be capable of analyzing trends of change for at least part of their biodiversity. Sources of errors that are present in primary biodiversity data and that can affect projections are discussed.