e-CBMP Newsletter
Fall 2018
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Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program            Volume 11 Issue 1

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Message from the CBMP Co-Leads
Dear Friends,

We are pleased to share the 2018-2021 CBMP Strategic Plan, completed earlier this year. The Plan is guiding the CBMP Steering Groups (Marine, Terrestrial, Freshwater, Coastal) through the development of Arctic Biodiversity Monitoring plans and towards the implementation of wide-ranging recommendations as each plan is completed. As a community, we have the opportunity - and the challenge - to do this in a way that is meaningful not just at the local or regional level but also from the circumpolar vantage point that the CBMP is uniquely positioned to explore.

The four overarching goals - each with specific, supporting objectives - seek to ensure the following:
  1. The CBMP is relevant to the Arctic States, Permanent Participants, the scientific and Traditional and local knowledge communities, and other partners.
  2. CBMP results support decision making and facilitate coordinated monitoring.
  3. The CBMP is an adaptive monitoring program.
  4. The CBMP is sustainable (defined by organization, capacity, and finances.)

While all of us in the CBMP community focus a great deal on collecting, aligning, and analyzing data, as CBMP Co-leads we also take this opportunity to reflect on the vibrant network of energetic and passionate scientists and managers that contribute to the program throughout the year. Below you will find brief updates on each of the Expert Monitoring Groups.


We hope to see you at the Arctic Biodiversity Congress and welcome your ideas for how we can continue to enhance CBMP and our work together.

Tom Christensen, CBMP Co-lead
Aarhus University (Denmark)

Sara Longan, CBMP Co-lead
North Slope Science Initiative/Bureau of Land Management (U.S.)

Do you have a project or publication you'd like to share with the CBMP community in a future newsletter? If so, please send to sara@nukaresearch.com for consideration in our next issue.

 Rosa Meehan, Arctic Turn Consulting
Following completion of the State of Arctic Marine Biodiversity Report, the Marine Steering Group and expert networks have been focusing on how the key findings can be used and how the advice from the report can be implemented. Rosa Meehan was asked by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
to begin exploring options.  Here are her responses to a few questions.

Can you describe the work you've been doing?
The SAMBR reflects our current state of knowledge and monitoring efforts organized around six marine ecosystem components.  Both the level of knowledge and the extent of monitoring vary across the six components. The SAMBR includes recommendations for future monitoring - so a key follow-up question was to what extent was the report useful to those interested in the Arctic? Within the U.S., most people I contacted were familiar with the report and the level of knowledge ranged simple awareness (those who had read or heard about the report) to those who had directly contributed.  

What might SAMBR implementation look like in different countries? How might implementation vary?
Implementation in other countries reflects the degree of involvement by academic and management institutions. For example, Norway emphasizes involvement in scientific efforts and publications as well as incorporation of SAMBR monitoring advice into ongoing regional monitoring efforts such as around the Barents Sea. Similar to the experience in the U.S., SAMBR recommendations are most readily aligned with existing regional programs when the same scientists have been involved in both efforts.

What have you identified as some of the biggest challenges to SAMBR implementation?
The lack of support for broad scale monitoring is a significant challenge. In general, monitoring efforts are regionally focused or are site-specific efforts related to development projects or community needs. As a result, there are small and regional scale monitoring efforts that are not necessarily coordinated. Data archiving and accessibility pose other challenges, which are critical to long-term studies.

And, of course, what do you see as some of the best opportunities?
Some of the best opportunities to take advantage of the insights from SAMBR come through continued outreach through existing Arctic networks (such as the Arctic Research Consortium of and the Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee, both in the U.S.) and with management agency networks. Clarification of agency roles and policy leads between management agencies is crucial as many individuals are involved in several forums with overlapping goals and objectives. On the science front, ongoing efforts including the Distributed Biological Observatory program and the new Arctic Long-term Ecological Research project. Both of these initiatives offer detailed and robust monitoring efforts that can advance our understanding of the changing Arctic systems.

EBM4: The State of the Arctic Marine Biodiversity Report (SAMBR)
Date: Tuesday October 9, 2018
Location: Tieva, Lappia Hall
Time: 17:00-18:30

Jen Lento (coordinator),  Joseph Culp and Willem Goedkoop (co-leads) 

The State of the Arctic Freshwater Biodiversity Report is nearing completion now. What's the status and when do you expect it to be complete?
The report is complete and is currently under review by the CAFF Board.  Revisions to address this feedback are ongoing, and our goal is to present a final report to the CAFF Board for approval at their February meeting in Anchorage, Alaska. Following approval by the CAFF Board and Senior Arctic Officials, the aim is to release the "State of the Arctic Freshwater Biodiversity Report" in early Spring 2019.

How did you go about developing the report so far? What are some key findings readers can expect to learn about freshwater biodiversity in the Arctic?
We have worked for several years not just to identify monitoring data that existed for Arctic freshwater, but also to gather those data into a central database. We have thus created both the first comprehensive assessment of circumpolar freshwater biodiversity and also a circumpolar freshwater database that can continue to grow and build the foundation for future assessments. We worked closely with freshwater experts from all the Arctic countries to overcome some of the challenges of working with such a large and varied set of data, including differences in species identification, sampling methods, and sampling frequency. Because of this, readers will find that the report provides important information about how diversity varies across the circumpolar Arctic for each of our focal ecosystem components (for example, fish, invertebrates, algae). Moreover, it also allows for comparison among focal ecosystem components to produce a more holistic view of freshwater biodiversity patterns. One of the interesting findings is the comparison of biodiversity patterns among organism groups. For example, we find evidence that although some organisms like invertebrates appear to reflect temperature gradients across the Arctic, there are other organism groups like algae that are more related to the chemical and physical habitat. This tells us a lot about what changes we might expect to see in freshwater communities and food webs with future warming. However, readers will note large gaps in Arctic freshwater monitoring across the circumpolar region, and the fact that few freshwater systems have monitoring data for more than one focal ecosystem component. These data gaps challenge our ability to detect changes in biodiversity in response to climate and land use changes in the Arctic and subarctic regions.

There will also be a special journal issue of Freshwater Biology dedicated to this topic. How does this relate to the SAFBR itself? Why was this approach chosen?
By building a circumpolar database of Arctic freshwater data from national monitoring programs, academic research, industry, and other sources, we are uniquely positioned to analyze Arctic freshwater diversity patterns on a scale not done before. Developing the special journal issue provided the opportunity to create more focused and detailed assessments of the data than could be included in the SAFBR.  This approach also provided a way to better engage Arctic freshwater scientists in the process. Thus, while the SAFBR provides an overview of status and trends in Arctic freshwater biodiversity, the special issue provides a closer look at these patterns at a regional scale (for multiple focal ecosystem components) and at a circumpolar scale (separately for each focal ecosystem component). This allows us to tell the full story of ecological change in Arctic freshwaters, while also communicating the message to a broader audience.

EBM2: The CBMP Freshwater: Coordinated monitoring and assessment to improve knowledge on status and trends in circumpolar Arctic freshwaters
Date: Tuesday October 9, 2018
Location: Tieva, Lappia Hall
Time: 13:00-14:30

EBM7: The CBMP as an international player and a regional Biodiversity Observation Network of GEO BON: Exploring Synergies
Tuesday October 9, 2018
Location: Tieva, Lappia Hall
Time: 15:00-16:30

Hrefna Jóhannesdóttir (coordinator)
The State of the Arctic Terrestrial Biodiversity Report (StArT) is under preparation. There will also be a special journal issue of Ambio - a Journal of the Human Environment dedicated to this topic. 

How does this relate to the StArT itself? Why was this approach chosen?
The StArT will primarily be based on the 14 papers published in the special journal issue of Ambio, but also include relevant published literature in general . The scientific approach of the papers is both regional and circumpolar and will therefore both provide an overview and in-depth status of a few cases regarding the monitoring of the terrestrial biodiversity. This will give the necessary scientific basis for the StArT report and will contribute to the dissemination of the key findings. We hope it will also support the objectives and recommendations in the StArT report.
What's the status of the StArT and when do you expect it to be complete?
The Ambio articles are being reviewed and the drafting of the StArT is going as expected. The StArT report is scheduled to be completed under the Icelandic chairmanship of CAFF.

What are some key findings readers can expect to learn about terrestrial biodiversity in the Arctic? Were there any surprises?
The key findings have not been presented yet, but the Arctic Biodiversity Assessment report revealed that monitoring the arctic terrestrial biodiversity is very important. The work led by the Terrestrial Steering Group has shown that the monitoring is at very different levels in different areas of the arctic. The special issue journal articles and the StArT report, which includes all relevant published literature, will provide the necessary basis for ongoing monitoring. Remote sensing will be an important tool since it provides valuable information without too much cost.

EBM3: The State of the Arctic Biodiversity Terrestrial Report (StArT): the Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program, Terrestrial
Date: Wednesday October 10
Location: Tieva, Lappia Hall
Time: 10:30-12:00

Donald McLennan and Tahzay Jones (co-leads)
What is the Coastal Expert Monitoring Group working on now?
We are working on completing the Coastal Plan, the 4th in a series of CBMP monitoring plans aimed at tracking change in key elements of Arctic biodiversity. Members of CEMG are coming together this week at the Arctic Biodiversity Congress  to present the plan, seek expert input, and finalize a draft for review. 

The group has made an effort to consider Traditional Knowledge in developing the plan - how have you approached this so far? What are some examples we might see in the forthcoming plan?
To develop the Coastal Plan, the CEMG hosted workshops in Canada, Alaska, and Norway, where we brought together science and Indigenous experts to provide input on plan direction and focus. In addition to the science direction, the Indigenous Knowledge (IK) input has been incorporated throughout the Plan, including in the identification of threats to coastal biodiversity, in the development of Focal Ecosystem Components (FECs), and for the Attributes and Parameters we propose to use to track changes in the FECs.  The Coastal Plan clearly recognizes the role of the coastal environment as an ancient and ongoing homeland of Indigenous Arctic Peoples, and frames the Coastal  Plan in the context of social-ecological systems where human communities are seen as an essential component of Arctic coasts.      

Have there been any unexpected issues or challenges arising in working to integrate information from different countries - and languages - or did the participants already bring a shared understanding of the key topics?
The work on the international science components of the Plan has brought together an excellent international team that has resulted in a united circumpolar approach for tracking change in Arctic coastal biodiversity. More demanding and more rewarding for the CEMG has been the ongoing participation of Indigenous experts and elders, who have openly shared their experience and wisdom to inform the Coastal Plan. We look forward to final review of the Coastal Plan by TK experts over the next few months.

What's coming next, and when?
The Coastal Plan will be circulated for review by both science and Indigenous experts in November 2018. This input will be incorporated and the Coastal Plan submitted for approval to the CAFF Board in 2019.  Following approval by the CAFF Board, each country will work together  to use the direction in the Coastal Plan to produce the State of Arctic Coastal Biodiversity Report (SACBR).