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Scientific strategy


© shutterstock Robyn Butler


The bioDISCOVERY scientific strategy was developed to provide a framework to the scientific community to enable them to make breakthroughs in assessing, monitoring, understanding and predicting biodiversity change.

Why assessing biodiversity?

There are still huge gaps in our knowledge of biodiversity - estimates say that only about 20% of all species have been discovered or are described in detail. Improving our knowledge of biodiversity through strengthening and improving assessments will provide clearer, stronger messages to stakeholders and decision makers. Read more about how bioDISCOVERY intends to strengthen assessments in Focus 1 of the scientific strategy.

Why monitoring biodiversity change?

Species abundances and distributions are changing with climatic and land use changes. Monitoring biodiversity change allows us to track responses of species, communities and ecosystems to global change. It also enables us to identify the drivers of change, and pinpoint those areas that are particularly vulnerable to change. Find out more about improving observation and understanding of biodiversity change in Focus 2 of the scientific strategy.

Why predicting future change?

The development of effective policy in the face of global change makes it necessary to anticipate future biodiversity change. Planning for the future will depend (in part) on model-based biodiversity scenarios. Read more about how bioDISCOVERY plans to improve biodiversity projections in Focus 3 of the scientific strategy.

The Scientific Strategy

The goal of the scientific strategy is stimulate the basic research necessary to understand the mechanisms underlying biodiversity change and related ecosystem services change, and to provide input into policy to promote the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. Each of the three research foci is split into a number of tasks.

Structure of the bioDISCOVERY scientific plan and its relationship to structures for monitoring, policy making and other research programmes. From Ash et al., 2009. Click on the picture for a larger version.

Focus 1: Strengthening biodiversity assessments

Goal of focus 1 is to promote improvement of biodiversity assessments across spatial and temporal scales, different levels of biological organisation, and attributes, processes and functions of biodiversity. Focus 1 also aims at stimulating the development of robust indices of biodiversity change, and improve understanding of the consequences of biodiversity change for ecosystem services. Work within Focus 1 provides scientific support for a wide range of assessment initiatives, e.g. the newly established intergovernmental panel on biodiversity and ecosystem services, IPBES.

Focus 2: Improving observation and understanding biodiversity change

The overarching goal of focus 2 is to improve our ability to provide robust scientific information on the change of global biodiversity by integrating existing activities and approaches in terrestrial, freshwater and marine systems. More specifically, focus 2 aims at developing a framework to enable systems for monitoring biodiversity change on various scales and levels of organisation in order to identify the drivers behind the observed changes, analyse the biotic mechanism governing these changes, and pinpoint areas particularly vulnerable to biodiversity loss. An example for the such a monitoring system is GEO BON.

Focus 3: Improving biodiversity projections

Goal of Focus 3 is to enhance our understanding of future biodiversity change in response to multiple natural and anthropogenic drivers. The understanding will be used to develop improved, quantitative projections of future changes in abundance and distributions of genotypes, species and functional groups of plants, animals and micro-organisms, as well as community and biome structure and distribution. In particular, efforts will focus on supporting research on the weak link in the chain of analysis, including data/model comparisons and analysis of uncertainty.

Interactions between foci

All three foci depend on combinations of observations, experiments and models to achieve their goals. The foci often rely on the same data or tools, but with slightly different objectives. Data collected under foci 1 and 2 will provide the basis for the model predictions developed under foci 3. In turn, the very same models will be used for gap filling and understanding mechanisms of biodiversity change, and will inform future assessment and monitoring. Download the pdf of the scientific strategy here for more information on the research foci and the associated research tasks.

The development of the scientific strategy is however only the first step. Visit our implementation page to see how we take it forward into action. A Scientific Committee has been put in place to oversee the implementation of the scientific strategy, the international project office (IPO) is responsible for the coordination of the bioDISCOVERY activities.

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