Improving and extending the use of biodiversity indicators

O'Reilly, Enya (2022) Improving and extending the use of biodiversity indicators. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Biodiversity indicators and indices of functional diversity can play a vital role in monitoring the impact of harmful human activity on species’ populations and on the ability of biodiversity to support ecosystem functioning respectively. However, an objective, quantitative approach to indicator species selection is needed to improve the use of biodiversity indicators. Furthermore, studies suggest that conservation management should consider large-scale temporal and spatial changes in functional diversity more closely to gain a greater understanding of community functional structure.
In this thesis, I use birds as a model system to develop a fully quantitative approach to indicator species selection. I first explore a quantitative metric to determine the extent of species’ habitat associations and find that literature-based classifications reflect this metric suggesting that this metric is a reliable alternative which is more robust and flexible than static literature-based classifications. I then integrate this metric with an existing niche-based framework which selects species for an indicator based on its resource use. Using this, I develop forest bird indicators for European, regional and national levels using “direct”, “top-down” and “bottom-up” approaches for each. I find that for a given spatial scale, indicators produced directly at that scale (“direct”) contain more sensitive species and cover more resources than an indicator produced at a higher spatial scale and adapted to lower scales (“top-down”), or an indicator produced at lower spatial scales and integrated up to produce an indicator at a higher scale (“bottom-up”).
In the second half of this thesis I improve our current understanding of functional diversity indices by exploring its temporal and spatial patterns for avian communities across Europe. I find that functional diversity varies over time and space with the extent of this variation dependent on habitat and index. Finally, I extend the use of functional diversity by exploring temporal and spatial patterns in species subsets within avian communities in order to describe overall community patterns. Results show that functional diversity of the overall community is reflected in those of species subsets with the extent of this relationship varying between habitat and subset.
My research demonstrates how the use of biodiversity indicators and functional diversity indices can be improved and extended in order to make them more informative to conservation policy.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Science > School of Biological Sciences
Depositing User: Kitty Laine
Date Deposited: 27 Jun 2023 12:25
Last Modified: 27 Jun 2023 12:25


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