Assessing biodiversity in farming landscapes – a cross-taxonomic surrogate approach to conservation planning

Presented by ANU College of Health & Medicine

Many indicator measures have been proposed as surrogates of biodiversity in conservation planning and management. To a large extent this is driven by the impracticality of collecting data on large suites of species to inform conservation decisions. A common assumption underlying the use of many biodiversity surrogates is that areas planned to conserve a subset of charismatic (surrogate) species groups such as birds would also benefit other species. Yet this assumption is seldom rigorously tested. This is despite mounting evidence that the effectiveness of many surrogate approaches vary with spatial scale, species groups and the analytical approaches used. My research investigates how effective different species groups perform as surrogates for other biodiversity in a heavily transformed landscape consisting of numerous box gum grassy woodland patches in New South Wales. Through inventories of taxa consisting of vertebrates (bird, mammal, herpetofauna), invertebrates (bee, beetle) and plants (tree), I examined these surrogate associations at different spatial scales, landscape contexts and over time. Understanding these cross-taxonomic patterns of biodiversity can provide important insights into what works best as robust surrogates of biodiversity in the world’s ever expanding agricultural land. This knowledge in turn will provide valuable information to guide conservation planning and management in such landscapes.

About the speaker

Ding Li is a final year PhD student at the Fenner School. Ding Li’s main research interests are in how biodiversity patterns responds to anthropogenic disturbance, and tropical-bird conservation. Ding Li completed his honours degree at the National University of Singapore where he studied land-bridge island ecosystems in Malaysia. Elsewhere, he has also carried out fieldwork in the rainforests of Singapore, Indonesia and China. Ding Li has published widely on conservation and has written, edited or illustrated seven books on the biodiversity of Asia.

Short title for tweet: surrogates of biodiversity in farms