EBM10: Building long-term ecosystem monitoring programs to feed Arctic and international biodiversity assessments

Date: Wednesday October 10, 2018

Location: Erottaja, ELY

Time: 8:30-10:00

Arctic Council working groups put substantial effort into identifying and harmonizing data sets for Arctic and international assessments. The Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program (CBMP) has developed monitoring plans for marine, coastal, freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems and are in the process of identifying gaps in required biodiversity data. This session will explore how long-term ecosystem-based monitoring programs are designed, the considerations they must take, and how such programs can contribute to a circum-Arctic monitoring program. Presentations include examples of a long-standing and ongoing ecosystem-based monitoring program in Greenland, and the development of a new long-term monitoring program in Canada. Focus will be on how national programmes are developed to bring biodiversity related data to the CBMP and what CBMP does to streamline data collection and disemmination in Arctic and international assessments.

Chairs: Torben R. Christensen and Elmer Topp-Jørgensen, Aarhus University

Format: Series of presentations followed by discussion


  1. Greenland Ecosystem Monitoring Program: Torben R. Christensen, Aarhus Universitypdf
  2. Zackenberg BioBasisProgram and linkages to CBMP: Niels Martin Schmidt, Aarhus Universitypdf
  3. Establishing CHARS as an Arctic Flagship Research and Monitoring Site – Design and Implementation of the CHARS Terrestrial Monitoring Program: Donald McLennan, Polar Knowledge Canada - Canadian High Arctic Research Stationpdf
  4. CBMP strategic plan and data considerations: Sara Longan, North Slope Science Initiativepdf


Greenland Ecosystem Monitoring Program

Torben R. Christensen, Aarhus University; Elmer Topp-Jørgensen, Aarhus University

The Greenland Ecosystem Monitoring (GEM) Program is an interdisciplinary long-term monitoring program run by greenlandic and danish research institutions. GEM has over the past two decades established itself firmly as an internationally leading climate change related environmental barometer measuring climate change and its impact on arctic ecosystems. The GEM program is designed to study entire ecosystems to identify change and understand ecosystem processes and linkages from the land ice to the near coastal sea. The Program is made up of five disciplinary sub-programmes (ClimateBasis, GeoBasis, BioBasis, MarineBasis and GlacioBasis) and an overarching remote sensing component. Since its early days, GEM has been associated with Arctic Council working groups, AMAP and CAFF, and are thus at the forefront in developing and adopting plans and protocols and contributing to assessments. The long time series of biotic and abiotic parameters allow scientists to track changes in biodiversity patters and ecosystem functioning and relating these various drivers of change. This presentation will provide an example of the development of an integrated approach to monitoring and how it links to arctic and international networks and organisations.


Zackenberg BioBasisProgram and linkages to CBMP

Niels Martin Schmidt, Aarhus University

The GEM BioBasis program is the biodiversity component of the GEM program. The program studies key species and processes across plant and animal populations and their interactions within the terrestrial and limnic ecosystem compartments in Kobbefjord/Nuuk (low arctic) and Zackenberg (high arctic), Greenland. The main focus of BioBasis is on biodiversity in general, and abundance and community composition in particular, of important flora and fauna components in the tundra biome. Central to the program is the monitoring of status and trends of selected focal species, phenology of their life history events and rates of reproduction and predation. Through these monitoring activities, BioBasis documents the intra- and inter-annual variation in central parameters, their resilience towards biotic and abiotic perturbations, as well as their long-term trends. BioBasis has strong linkages to Arctic Council’s Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program (CBMP). The long time series and the interdisciplinary approach of GEM provides in depth knowledge of ecosystem structure and function, and the status of key biodiversity elements in a changing Arctic. This presentation will provide an example of a biodiversity monitoring program developed over a couple of decades with close ties to the CAFF’s Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program (CBMP), including participation in CBMP expert groups, development and adoption of plans and protocols, and how data feeds into arctic and international assessments.


Establishing CHARS as an Arctic Flagship Research and Monitoring Site – Design and Implementation of the CHARS Terrestrial Monitoring Program

Donald McLennan, Polar Knowledge Canada - Canadian High Arctic Research Station

Polar Knowledge Canada’s Canadian High Arctic Research Station (CHARS) in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, has a mission to develop the CHARS Experimental and Reference Area (CHARS ERA) as a Flagship Arctic monitoring and research site conducting and supporting world class environmental science by CHARS science staff, and by visiting Canadian and international scientists. The CHARS Monitoring Plan describes a broad, whole-of- ecosystem approach that includes long-term experiment-based monitoring of terrestrial, freshwater and coastal-marine ecosystems, and their interactions, all within a social-ecological context in the CHARS ERA. This presentation describes the terrestrial component of the Plan, which will follow the approaches and Focal Ecosystem Components laid out in the CAFF CBMP Terrestrial Monitoring Plan. Baseline inventories and studies, and piloted monitoring programs have been initiated since 2014 and will be accelerating now that the first CHARS science staff is located full time at the station in Cambridge Bay. Engagement of Kitikmeot communities and residents is another important component of proposed work in the CHARS ERA, and evolving plans for that engagement will be presented. The approach is to also engage regional governments, industry, academia, and NGOs in the development and delivery of the monitoring program. To implement the CHARS monitoring program we are proposing for discussion the creation of ‘communities of practice’ around key subject areas, e.g., cryosphere, birds, small mammals, soil processes, ungulates, C flux, vegetation, to engage interested science teams to cooperatively develop and demonstrate best practices in the CHARS ERA in the various fields. This presentation will summarize the work than has been completed to date by CHARS staff and co-investigators, will outline the monitoring and research framework that is described in the CHARS Monitoring Plan, and will describe work to be conducted in the 2018 field season. This work meets several of the ABC goals, in particular, the implementation of ABA policy recommendations around monitoring, the inclusion of global monitoring programs, facilitation of interdisciplinary discussions and the inclusion of governments, NGOs and industry, and by increasing the visibility of CAFF and the Arctic Council as a leading voice of Arctic biodiversity research and monitoring.


CBMP strategic plan and data considerations

Sara Longan, North Slope Science Initiative

The Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program (CBMP) is the biodiversity monitoring program of the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF), the biodiversity Working Group of the Arctic Council. The CBMP coordinates, collects and synthesizes existing monitoring data from the Arctic States and are thus receiver of data generated by programmes such as GEM and CHARS ERA. CBMP consists of four ecosystem domain groups (terrestrial, freshwater, coastal and marine) that all develop monitoring plans to detect and understand changes. These Arctic Biodiversity Monitoring Plans are developed by steering committees with input from various expert networks and includes standardizing and coordinating monitoring as well as synthesizing essential data.


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