Hannah Mossman and Chris Panter, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia. Photocredits: David White, Helen Mossman, Chris Panter
There is a wealth of ecological knowledge available for large numbers of priority species, but is scattered across different sources. We have developed a systematic method to collate this information, defining cross-taxa groups of species with shared requirements for ecological structures, processes and therefore management actions – management guilds of species.
We compare the numbers of priority species with particular management requirements to the conservation management actions being carried out in a particular region. This allows us to assess the cost effectiveness of conservation and provides an evidence base for potential improvements.
Our work utilises species records collected over many years by species experts and amateur natural historians, and would not be possible if it were not for their knowledge, enthusiasm and dedication.
Our Biodiversity Audit Approach involves collating all available species records within an area to quantify the “biodiversity” of a region - typically c.13,000 species! - much greater than previously recognised by practitioners or policy.
These records include those held by local records centres, National Biodiversity Network, natural history groups, plus extensive searches of literature and site reports. We attempt to make our record collation as inclusive as possible, and do not bias by taxon group.
We then identify those species that are conservation priorities, i.e. rare or scarce within the UK, and those that are regionally endemic nationally important species since they are restricted in their UK distribution and at high extinction risk.