Document details for 'Developing monitoring protocols for rapid surveillance of priority lichen species in Scotland'

Authors Britton, A.J., Mitchell, R.J., Potts, J.M. and Genney, D.R.
Publication details The Lichenologist 46(3), 471-482.
Keywords biodiversity monitoring; biomonitoring; population trends; Pseudocyphellaria norvegica; quality assurance; Scotland; surveyor variability
Abstract The criteria set out by the International Union for Conservation of Nature to identify threatened species requires information on population trends which, for priority lichen species within Scotland, is lacking. Collecting such data is problematic as there is a lack of empirical information on the performance of different sampling designs and survey methodologies. Using Pseudocyphellaria norvegica as an example species, we tested differences in the efficiency of 3 transect patterns and a 20 minute search for surveying 100 x 100 m cells of potentially suitable habitat. The methods were not intended to census the total population of the cells but, rather, to provide a standardized, repeatable estimate of the population density to allow detection of trends through time. We also tested the repeatability of the methods between surveyors. The results provided no evidence to suggest that controlled survey methodologies using fixed transect patterns were any better in terms of consistency between surveyors or numbers of occupied trees found than 20 minute searches of the areas within each 100 x 100 m cell deemed suitable for the target species by an experienced surveyor. Given that following the fixed transect patterns took approximately twice as long as a 20 minute search, the search method would clearly be more cost-effective when there are large numbers of cells to survey. For all survey methods variability between surveyors was high, meaning that it would be extremely difficult to detect temporal changes in populations, and hence identify population trends. We also examined the extent to which recording presence/absence at the 1 ha scale might improve consistency between surveyors and found that it reduced, but did not eliminate, the surveyor variability. Recording only presence/absence would allow greater numbers of cells to be surveyed using the same level of resources, but would reduce the amount of information available per cell for use in analysis of population trends. We conclude that controlling inter-surveyor variability while collecting adequate data for population trend analysis is a major issue when planning and implementing any large-scale survey of lichen species.
Last updated 2018-04-06

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