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Long-term ecological monitoring offers insight into the state of Europe’s biodiversity

ground beetle Carabus glabratus
ground beetle Carabus glabratus
“Species across the world are declining at alarming rates. The global biodiversity crisis does not just affect those species but is a huge threat to human health and wellbeing as we are inextricably bound to the natural world. Some of these global changes may be different to those occurring at local levels, and we need that information to implement effective conservation measures"

New research by an international research team including ecologists at the James Hutton Institute has produced the most comprehensive long-term image of the state of biodiversity across Europe, showing -among a number of findings – significant changes in species communities and a decline in insect abundance.

Published in prestigious scientific publication Nature Communications, the research compiled and analysed 161 long-term monitoring studies from 115 sites in 21 European countries, and constitutes the best available representation of long-term biodiversity monitoring records in Europe.

Dr Jenni Stockan, an entomologist within the James Hutton Institute’s Ecological Sciences department and co-author of the study, said: “Species across the world are declining at alarming rates. The global biodiversity crisis does not just affect those species but is a huge threat to human health and wellbeing as we are inextricably bound to the natural world. Some of these global changes may be different to those occurring at local levels, and we need that information to implement effective conservation measures.

“That’s why it’s essential to understand the variation in biodiversity trends between localities and how and why these may vary across species, regions and local conditions.”

The research shows different trends among biogeoregions, realms, and species, including very significant changes in Northern Europe, likely due to species moving northwards in response to climate change induced temperature changes. The researchers also detected declines in insect species abundances in the Atlantic biogeoregion, corroborating recent reports of worldwide declines of local terrestrial insect communities.

“Our research shows that temperature variations are an important predictor of change, but patterns cannot be generalised between groups. These findings reiterate the need to increase the numbers of long-term monitoring schemes of local ecosystems, if we are to accurately track how Europe’s biodiversity is changing,” Dr Stockan added.

Looking to the future, the research team found an urgent need to standardise biodiversity monitoring schemes, and integrate long-term biodiversity and environmental monitoring data, which will allow conservation measures to be better tailored to slow or even reverse further biodiversity loss.

Paper: Pilotto, F., Kühn, I., Adrian, R. et al including Stockan, J.A. Meta-analysis of multidecadal biodiversity trends in Europe. Nature Communications 11, 3486 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-17171-y

More information from: 

Adam Walker, Communications Officer, James Hutton Institute, Tel: 01224 395095 (direct line), 0344 928 5428 (switchboard).


Printed from /news/long-term-ecological-monitoring-offers-insight-state-europe%E2%80%99s-biodiversity on 30/09/20 04:41:53 PM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.