Composite bird indicators robust to variation in species selection and habitat specificity

Renwick, Anna R., Johnston, Alison, Joys, Andrew, Newson, Stuart E., Noble, David G. and Pearce-Higgins, James W. (2012) Composite bird indicators robust to variation in species selection and habitat specificity. Ecological Indicators, 18 200-207. doi:10.1016/j.ecolind.2011.11.008

Author Renwick, Anna R.
Johnston, Alison
Joys, Andrew
Newson, Stuart E.
Noble, David G.
Pearce-Higgins, James W.
Title Composite bird indicators robust to variation in species selection and habitat specificity
Journal name Ecological Indicators   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1470-160X
Publication date 2012-01-01
Year available 2012
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.ecolind.2011.11.008
Open Access Status Not Open Access
Volume 18
Start page 200
End page 207
Total pages 8
Place of publication Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Publisher Elsevier BV
Language eng
Subject 2303 Ecology
1800 Decision Sciences
1105 Dentistry
Abstract Ecological indicators are increasingly being used to monitor the state of the environment. Ideally indicators should quantify and summarise ecosystem function and overall health. However, there is a lack of consensus on the correct approach for the production of these indicators which is crucial to their success in achieving this overall aim. The selection of species and data to include in each indicator are key to the development of indicators. We examine the effects of changing the criteria for species inclusion in a high profile composite indicator based on population trends of breeding birds in England, currently used to represent the status of the overall environment. This is achieved by (i) applying an objective measure of categorisation, (ii) changing the minimum threshold for data quality, and (iii) changing from a species-level categorisation approach to one based on habitat-specific population trends for each broad habitat of interest. We show that the species in the current wild bird indicators, selected by expert judgement, is similar to the objective assessment that we propose. More generally, we show that indicators with the correct species selection are relatively robust to the habitat-specificity of the composite species trends. The most important consideration is the inclusion of scarce species which may be more sensitive to environmental change. Omission of these species can produce an over-optimistic assessment of the health of the ecosystem. We offer a simple but robust methodology that can be applied to a wide range of species and habitats with minimal knowledge of the specified habitat required.
Keyword Biodiversity loss
Habitat Specificity
Population trends
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collection: School of Biological Sciences Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 14 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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Created: Thu, 14 Aug 2014, 08:38:50 EST by Gail Walter on behalf of School of Biological Sciences