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Thinking outside the plot: monitoring forest biodiversity for social-ecological research

Salk, Carl and Chazdon, Robin and Waiswa, Daniel (2020). Thinking outside the plot: monitoring forest biodiversity for social-ecological research. Ecology and Society. 25 , 7 , 1-11
[Research article]

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Protecting biodiversity, either for its own sake or for its value to humanity, is a principal goal of conservation efforts worldwide. For this reason, many studies on the social science of resource management and governance seek to quantify biodiversity outcomes. Here, we focus on the International Forestry Resources and Institutions program to demonstrate some of the challenges of quantitative biodiversity assessment and suggest ways to overcome them. One of this program's research goals is to understand the causes of biodiversity loss, which is explicitly assessed using plot-based forest sampling. Plot-based methods to capture biodiversity changes require huge amounts of data. Even if sampling is sufficient, existing protocols can only capture changes in the types of species actually sampled, typically trees. Other elements of biodiversity are not censused, including animals, herbs, shrubs, fungi, and epiphytes that may provide medicine, food, wildlife habitat, trade items, or cultural goods. Using case studies of two sites in Uganda, we demonstrate that more spatially extensive surveys targeting multiple types of data can give a broader picture of forest status and changes than can plot-based sampling alone; many relevant variables can be observed while traveling among plot points with little additional effort. Reviewing the ecological literature, we identify correlates of forest status that can supplement plot-based sampling. These include large trees, epiphyte-laden trees, culturally or commercially valuable species, large stumps, and evidence of hunting and trapping. Further, data elicited from local resource users can play an important role in biodiversity monitoring. These findings suggest that effective biodiversity monitoring may be within easier reach than previously thought, although robust comparisons among sites remains a challenge, especially when climate, soils, or site history differ greatly.

Authors/Creators:Salk, Carl and Chazdon, Robin and Waiswa, Daniel
Title:Thinking outside the plot: monitoring forest biodiversity for social-ecological research
Series Name/Journal:Ecology and Society
Year of publishing :2020
Article number:7
Number of Pages:11
Publisher:Resilience Alliance
Publication Type:Research article
Article category:Scientific peer reviewed
Version:Published version
Full Text Status:Public
Subjects:(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 1 Natural sciences > 106 Biological Sciences (Medical to be 3 and Agricultural to be 4) > Ecology
(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 4 Agricultural Sciences > 401 Agricultural, Forestry and Fisheries > Forest Science
Keywords:biodiversity monitoring, community-based monitoring, conservation, participatory monitoring, socio-ecological studies
Permanent URL:
Additional ID:
Type of IDID
Web of Science (WoS)000524149700001
ID Code:17156
Faculty:S - Faculty of Forest Sciences
Department:(S) > Southern Swedish Forest Research Centre
Deposited By: SLUpub Connector
Deposited On:30 Jun 2020 10:36
Metadata Last Modified:15 Jan 2021 19:45

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