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Activity 09: Biodiversity monitoring

Indicators for biodiversity monitoring – What to consider!

Objective: Introduction to the characteristics of indicators for biodiversity monitoring
Learning outcomes: The students will be able to filter relevant information from texts and then answer corresponding questions. Students will be able to describe what indicators are and apply this knowledge to biodiversity indicators used in monitoring.
Previous knowledge: The students already need to know what biodiversity monitoring is.
Duration: 45 min
Materials / Conditions: Material 1-3
Methods / Techniques: Teamwork in groups of two, text analysis, group discussions
Learning subject: Biodiversity / Module 2: Biodiversity and environmental protection / Level: Advanced learning

Introduction: Certain indicators must be set up and implemented for the effective monitoring of biodiversity. But what exactly are indicators and what is to be considered?

1. Read the short info-text about indicators (material 1, resources). In groups of two, reflect what could be used as biodiversity indicators and then compare your results with material 2 (see resources).

2. Discuss with an other group why biodiversity indicators are of great importance in biodiversity monitoring and try to identify areas of potential problems. Also analyse material 3 for this (see resources).

Material 1: What are indicators?
Indicators are measured variables, which are easy to evaluate and can be used to understand or reflect a more complex issue, for example the current status of an ecosystem.
The term indicator derives from the latin indicare, which can be translated with “to display” or “to reveal” something. For instance the presence of certain plant species can reveal a lot about the condition of the soil (humidity, alkalinity, etc.), or likewise some specific invertebrate species display the water quality of a stream.

Material 2: What are biodiversity indicators and what are they used for?
Biodiversity indicators provide information about the status or dynamics of certain aspects or elements of biological diversity. For example the variety of breeding birds in a rural landscape can also indicate the composition of other animal and plant groups in that ecosystem. Biodiversity indicators can also be anorganic factors, for example the structural composition of a landscape or area, the spatial concentration of cattle, the size of agricultural cultivation units, the ratio of dead wood in a forest, or the intensity of human land use.

Hence, biodiversity indicators are used to simplify complex phenomena in biological diversity in addition to quantifying and communicating them comprehensibly. They are an important basis for biodiversity monitoring programmes and enable comparative reporting on the status of biological diversity. They also play a crucial role in planning and evaluating political strategies for the protection or the sustainable use of biological diversity.

Material 3: Biodiversity indicators must feature certain quality criteria:
• high and nationwide significance in regard to biological diversity
• high degree of cross-linking with other indicators in the monitoring system
• swift and regular collectability with standardised methods
• easy to communicate, highly comprehensible and tangible
• required actions and measures can easily be deducted
• high level of social importance/value
• high presence nationwide
(Source: Material 1-3 changed from

Possible results / Results:
1. Indicators are measured variables and can be used for the analyses of complex issues; biodiversity indicators are measures which provide information about the biological status

2. Creation of comparable indicators, ability to make statements about the biological diversity, frequent reproducibility and collectability are possible; possible problems: communication difficulties, data administration, setting of standards, data acquisition

Related activities:

Author: Franziska Schoen
Aus dem Deutschen übersetzt von Tim Hutchings

en/learning/courses/subjects/s01/m02/advanced-learning/a09.txt · Last modified: 2015/09/18 10:35 by sschoeffer