Environmental monitoring allows for the assessment
of environmental and biological changes in an ecosystem,
with the goal of
- Making an inventory of species and habitats present
in an area as well as noting their mutual relationships
- Distinguishing natural fluctuations from abnormal
- Identifying cause-and-effect relationships between
external developments and changes in the biological
Tool in biodiversity management
Monitoring is an effective tool
- To measure the progress and effectiveness of conservation
measures, and to detect biological trends in response
to natural and human induced disturbances in the environment.
Different approaches can be followed in a monitoring
programme over a certain time span. For example,
- An All Biota Taxonomic Inventory (ABTI) that focuses
on a number of key species groups such as termites,
fishes or butterflies.
- An All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory (ATBI) focuses
on the description of all species present in a
- A Rapid Biodiversity Assessment (RBA) provides
an inventory of selected species giving a quick
estimate of the biological richness of an area.
Monitoring programmes can also focus on genetic
diversity, species or habitats or any combinations
These are only a few examples of the characteristics
of monitoring programmes. The approach chosen is closely
linked to the aim of the monitoring programme and the
resources that can be made available which can be thought
of as cost effectiveness.
The resources needed
Monitoring biological diversity at national, regional
and global levels requires systematic and ecological
infrastructure, economic input and human resources.
In addition countries that are party to the Convention
on Biological Diversity, are committed to identify
and monitor biodiversity for both conservation and sustainable
use. Even so some of the most well resourced and well-developed
countries still have a poor knowledge of their biota,
because of its complexity or lack of framework for executing
a cohesive monitoring programme.
Example: ADRIATIC DOLPHIN PROJECT, Croatia
This long-term monitoring project in the area of Cres-Losinj
archipelago in the Croatian part of the Adriatic Sea
serves as an example of integration of monitoring, awareness
raising, and putting the obtained results into practice.
In 1987, an Italian research institute initiated the
"Adriatic Dolphin Project" (ADP) in order to study the
state of the local population of bottlenose dolphins
(Tursiops truncatus). Dolphins are top predators and
therefore representative of the health of an ecosystem
as a whole. In this area they are classified as critically
endangered (IUCN) and are threatened by over-fishing,
pollution, and tourism.
Monitoring the dolphins
Some of the indicators recorded and the methods used
to determine them are:
- Population size (photo identification by scars and
notches on the dorsal fin)
- Range of movements (also photo ID)
- Activity (sounds recorded using hydrophones)
- Stomach contents (of killed species found in the
The evaluation by monthly and yearly comparisons by
GIS-application and other means not only allows for
conclusions concerning the state of the dolphin population
to be made, but also interactions with human activities
such as fisheries.
Funding & Awareness raising
80% of the funding is supplied by ecovolunteer tourism,
which consists of volunteers who pay to visit the research
station and to participate in the scientist's activities.
Further financial resources include local and national
governments, sponsorships by banks and private companies,
as well as public participation initiatives e.g. "Adopt
a Dolphin", summer research and educational courses.
Awareness is raised additionally by explaining the research
results to the local public through journal and newspaper
articles, appearances on TV and radio programmes, and
special events e.g. "Dolphin Day".
As a result of this long lasting monitoring programme,
an area for a Marine Park of great importance to submarine
and bird life as well as archaeological heritage was
identified. In 1996 the Croatian Government contributed
to the "Environmental Management Plan for the Conservation
of Cres-Losinj archipelago" (1993). However, the plan
was not implemented, so that the ADP still relies on
rather risky annual sponsorships.
In 2001 the ADP was taken over by a Croatian NGO. A
year later a new proposal for the creation of Losinj
Dolphin Reserve was submitted to several agencies and
approval was anticipated. Apart from proposing a marine
education centre, several recommendations were made
that can form the basis for co-operation with other
sectors: further studies on dolphin-fishery interactions,
dolphin-tourism interactions, pollution effects, and
socio-economic impacts will most probably reveal the
necessity of integrated approaches in the management
of this area.
see also socio-economic
see also web page: www.adp.hr