The Austrian biodiversity monitoring ÖBM-Kulturlandschaft has a focus on habitat and species diversity in Austrian cultural landscapes (including alpine pastures) and started in the year 2017. The stratified random selection of the sampling sites is based on the 1 km² grid of Statistics Austria. A minimum of 50% of agricultural area within the 1 km² was the limit for considering a grid cell; 100 nested sampling plots are arranged hierarchically (i) remote sensing based landscape survey: 3 x 3 km² - landscape plots, (ii) habitat mapping: 625 m x 625 m test areas; and (iii) per test area: 10 test circles for surveys of vascular plants, grasshoppers and butterflies.
A rolling (staggered) survey is planned: in the first year of the survey, half of the 100 sampling plots have been covered, in the second survey year the remaining half of the sampling plots. The repetition of surveys should take place every three to five years. Remote sensing data will be applied within the framework of ÖBM-Kulturlandschaft at three different levels: (i) phenological characterizations of the habitat types within the 625 m x 625 m sampling plots, (ii) detection of changes in ecosystem functions (e.g. NDVI) and ecosystem structure (e.g. land cover) around the sampling plots at 3x3 km² and (iii) nation-wide analysis of land cover change with the COPERNICUS products available for the entire EU. The recording of habitat types is based on the red lists published by the Environment Agency Austria. Regarding organismic groups, the survey methods are closely aligned with those applied in the monitoring project Biodiversity-Nature-Safety (BINATS; Pascher et al. 2011) that focusses on maize and oilseed rape cultivation areas and it is planned to merge data from BINATS and ÖBM-Kulturlandschaft to provide overall results for the Austrian cultural landscapes. Vascular plants, grasshoppers and butterflies were chosen mainly for being optimal surrogates for overall biodiversity, suppliers of ecosystem services, and/or due to practical advantages in surveying.
Preliminary results from 2017 are that 69 species of grasshoppers (49% of Austrian species; n = 48 test areas) and 103 species of butterflies (48%, n=49) were detected. Average species richness was 10.6±4.6 for grasshoppers and 10.5±4.7 for butterflies per test area, and 3.9±2.9 for grasshoppers and 2.8±2.2 for butterflies per test circles.
A novel method for biodiversity accounting will be used to summarise the population change results of all species obtained during monitoring. With this method, measured population change results are weighted by the species’ Red List category at the national and international scale and its dependence on the monitoring area (determined by habitat requirements and total range).
K Pascher et al (2011) Setup, efforts and practical experiences of a monitoring program for genetically modified plants - an Austrian case study for oilseed rape and maize. Env Sci Eur 23:12