K305 Alvar

Farmland Biodiversity Monitoring Practice in Europe and North America


Gabriela Hofer
Janet Franklin
Felix Herzog


Agriculture is one of the main causes for the strong declines in biodiversity over the last decades. To protect and promote farmland biodiversity effectively, politicians and farmers need information about the status and dynamics of biodiversity on agricultural land. We reviewed a number of large monitoring programs in Europe and North America and investigated design decisions, monitoring costs and informative value for stakeholders.
Useful programs focus on the landscape scale and investigate the state and dynamics of habitats and one or better several organism groups, mainly plant species and faunal groups if financially feasible. They sample raw data stratified over intensive and remote areas and distribute one sample continuously over several years. Landscape sample units seem to be related to the grain size of the agricultural landscapes; they are smaller in Europe than in North America. To lower the costs of biodiversity monitoring programs remote sensing and genomic and citizen science approaches experience a high attention and will hopefully deliver good opportunities in the near future.

One of the recently implemented programmes is the Swiss Farmland Biodiversity Monitoring programme "ALL-EMA". To assess the state and the dynamics of species with a focus on habitats of the agri-environmental targets in Switzerland, a sampling design with weighted random sampling at several levels was used. Based on a highly standardized habitat mapping with a habitat key for reproducible recording, habitats of specific interest are sampled more intensively than other habitats. Synergies with the biodiversity monitoring of Switzerland allow ALL-EMA to use butterfly and bird data in addition to the recorded plant and habitat data. The electronic field data assessment allows a standardized, fast data processing. In 2020, the first main report about the state of farmland habitats and species is expected.

Herzog F., Franklin J.: State-of-the-art practices in farmland biodiversity monitoring for North America and Europe. Ambio, 45, (8), 2016, 857-871.