Validity of Biodiversity Monitoring Programmes: Boundary Stream Mainland Island Project, Department of Conservation.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Forestry Science
The recent move to in situ conservation management world-wide is supported by, and stems from the 1992 International Convention on Biological Diversity. The Department of Conservation - charged with the conservation of New Zealand's natural resources - has directed efforts towards the restoration of natural processes as an avenue to halt local biodiversity decline. Ecosystem, habitat, and nature restoration programmes such as the Boundary Stream Mainland Island Project (BSMIP) represent the forefront of conservation management, combining intensive multi-species pest control, with broad-scale hierarchical monitoring programmes. Monitoring programmes confer information that is intended to support decision-making and management by the reduction of uncertainty, or by increasing knowledge. The validity of monitoring programmes depends on three key parts; the guiding objectives, biological relevance, and statistical reliability. Seven major long-term monitoring programmes established at the BSMIP were evaluated according to the above criteria. All monitoring programmes had appropriate guiding objectives, and were biologically relevant (outcome and result monitoring were balanced respective to each other and to the restoration intervention and efforts at BSMIP). The statistical reliability of the programmes was appraised with the use of the Computer programme MONITOR, which provided a calculated value for the statistical power of the monitoring programmes. All monitoring programmes except two (Lizard monitoring: which was initially designed as a short-term species survey, and Mustelid monitoring: which would be a good candidate for a double sampling methodology) had a robust design (evaluated using the actual initial data, and conservative criteria for the detection of population change). The monitoring programmes that did achieve a level of statistical robustness, provided a statistical power of 0.8 ( 80%) within appropriate timeframes for restoration of ecosystem processes (e.g. the timeframe for detection of a 10% change in the abundance, density, relative index, etc of the Result monitoring programmes: Rodents = three years, Possums = six years, and Outcome monitoring programmes: Weta = five years, Ground Invertebrates = four years, Birds (species nos.) = four years, Vegetation (Species, and sapling nos.) = 15 years). The guiding objectives for monitoring programmes must have clear, specific, measurable, and achievable goals, in-order to identify appropriate variables, in both spatial and temporal scales. The biological relevance or "linkage" between monitored groups is important and must be at least outlined, for monitoring programmes to be able to identify potential cause and effect. Statistical reliability (the balance between statistical significance, statistical power, and the timeframe for a conclusive result to be determined) is important, as it is the key method of detecting change. Statistical power can improve the design and efficiency of monitoring programmes and clarify research results. Power analysis has become readily available for researchers and managers with the development of computer programmes specifically designed for this task.