Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 184, Issue 2, pp 655–678 | Cite as

The BIOTA Biodiversity Observatories in Africa—a standardized framework for large-scale environmental monitoring

  • Norbert Jürgens
  • Ute SchmiedelEmail author
  • Daniela H. Haarmeyer
  • Jürgen Dengler
  • Manfred Finckh
  • Dethardt Goetze
  • Alexander Gröngröft
  • Karen Hahn
  • Annick Koulibaly
  • Jona Luther-Mosebach
  • Gerhard Muche
  • Jens Oldeland
  • Andreas Petersen
  • Stefan Porembski
  • Michael C. Rutherford
  • Marco Schmidt
  • Brice Sinsin
  • Ben J. Strohbach
  • Adjima Thiombiano
  • Rüdiger Wittig
  • Georg Zizka


The international, interdisciplinary biodiversity research project BIOTA AFRICA initiated a standardized biodiversity monitoring network along climatic gradients across the African continent. Due to an identified lack of adequate monitoring designs, BIOTA AFRICA developed and implemented the standardized BIOTA Biodiversity Observatories, that meet the following criteria (a) enable long-term monitoring of biodiversity, potential driving factors, and relevant indicators with adequate spatial and temporal resolution, (b) facilitate comparability of data generated within different ecosystems, (c) allow integration of many disciplines, (d) allow spatial up-scaling, and (e) be applicable within a network approach. A BIOTA Observatory encompasses an area of 1 km2 and is subdivided into 100 1-ha plots. For meeting the needs of sampling of different organism groups, the hectare plot is again subdivided into standardized subplots, whose sizes follow a geometric series. To allow for different sampling intensities but at the same time to characterize the whole square kilometer, the number of hectare plots to be sampled depends on the requirements of the respective discipline. A hierarchical ranking of the hectare plots ensures that all disciplines monitor as many hectare plots jointly as possible. The BIOTA Observatory design assures repeated, multidisciplinary standardized inventories of biodiversity and its environmental drivers, including options for spatial up- and downscaling and different sampling intensities. BIOTA Observatories have been installed along climatic and landscape gradients in Morocco, West Africa, and southern Africa. In regions with varying land use, several BIOTA Observatories are situated close to each other to analyze management effects.


Diversity Global change Permanent plot Sampling scheme Transect Vegetation 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Norbert Jürgens
    • 1
  • Ute Schmiedel
    • 1
    Email author
  • Daniela H. Haarmeyer
    • 1
    • 4
  • Jürgen Dengler
    • 1
  • Manfred Finckh
    • 1
  • Dethardt Goetze
    • 2
  • Alexander Gröngröft
    • 3
  • Karen Hahn
    • 4
  • Annick Koulibaly
    • 5
  • Jona Luther-Mosebach
    • 1
    • 3
  • Gerhard Muche
    • 1
  • Jens Oldeland
    • 1
  • Andreas Petersen
    • 3
    • 6
  • Stefan Porembski
    • 2
  • Michael C. Rutherford
    • 7
    • 8
  • Marco Schmidt
    • 9
  • Brice Sinsin
    • 10
  • Ben J. Strohbach
    • 11
  • Adjima Thiombiano
    • 12
  • Rüdiger Wittig
    • 4
  • Georg Zizka
    • 9
  1. 1.Biodiversity, Evolution and Ecology of Plants, Biocentre Klein Flottbek and Botanical GardenUniversity of HamburgHamburgGermany
  2. 2.Department of Botany, Institute of Biological SciencesUniversity of RostockRostockGermany
  3. 3.Institute of Soil ScienceUniversity of HamburgHamburgGermany
  4. 4.Chair of Ecology and Geobotany, Institute of Ecology, Evolution and DiversityJ. W. Goethe-UniversityFrankfurt am MainGermany
  5. 5.Laboratoire de Production et Amélioration Végétales, U.F.R. Sciences de la NatureUniversité d’Abobo-AdjaméDaloa 02Côte d’Ivoire
  6. 6.Department of Research Management and FundingUniversity of HamburgHamburgGermany
  7. 7.Applied Biodiversity Research DivisionSouth African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)Cape TownSouth Africa
  8. 8.Department of Botany and ZoologyStellenbosch UniversityMatielandSouth Africa
  9. 9.Research Institute Senckenberg and J.W. Goethe-UniversityFrankfurt am MainGermany
  10. 10.Laboratoire d’Ecologie Appliquée, Faculté des Sciences AgronomiquesUniversité d’Abomey-CalaviCotonouBénin
  11. 11.National Botanical Research Institute (NBRI)WindhoekNamibia
  12. 12.Laboratoire de Biologie et d’Écologie Végétales, Unité de Formation et Recherche en Sciences de la Vie et de la TerreUniversité de OuagadougouOuagadougou 03Burkina Faso

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