A niche-based framework to assess current monitoring of European forest birds and guide indicator species' selection

Amy S. I. Wade, Boris Barov, Ian J. Burfield, Richard D. Gregory, Ken Norris, Petr Vorisek, Taoyang Wu, Simon Butler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)
15 Downloads (Pure)


Concern that European forest biodiversity is depleted and declining has provoked widespread efforts to improve management practices. To gauge the success of these actions, appropriate monitoring of forest ecosystems is paramount. Multi-species indicators are frequently used to assess the state of biodiversity and its response to implemented management, but generally applicable and objective methodologies for species' selection are lacking. Here we use a niche-based approach, underpinned by coarse quantification of species' resource use, to objectively select species for inclusion in a pan-European forest bird indicator. We identify both the minimum number of species required to deliver full resource coverage and the most sensitive species' combination, and explore the trade-off between two key characteristics, sensitivity and redundancy, associated with indicators comprising different numbers of species. We compare our indicator to an existing forest bird indicator selected on the basis of expert opinion and show it is more representative of the wider community. We also present alternative indicators for regional and forest type specific monitoring and show that species' choice can have a significant impact on the indicator and consequent projections about the state of the biodiversity it represents. Furthermore, by comparing indicator sets drawn from currently monitored species and the full forest bird community, we identify gaps in the coverage of the current monitoring scheme. We believe that adopting this niche-based framework for species' selection supports the objective development of multi-species indicators and that it has good potential to be extended to a range of habitats and taxa.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere97217
JournalPLoS One
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 12 May 2014

Cite this